Vellore Sepoy Mutiny celebration begins today

Staff Reporter

VELLORE: The bi-centenary year of the Vellore Sepoy Mutiny will commence with officials and others paying homage to the memorial here at 8 a.m. on July 10. The cultural programmes of school students would be held at 11 a.m. at Anna Kalai Arangam.

The Agricultural Minister, K. Pandurangan, and the Minister of State for Railways, R. Velu, would participate at a special function to mark the occasion to be held at the same venue at 4 p.m. under the presidentship of the Collector, S. Gopalakrishnan.

In the early 19th century, soldiers of the erstwhile North Arcot district who served in the British army planned to put an end to the British rule. After the death of Hyder Ali in 1782 A.D., his son, Tipu Sultan fought the British. He was killed in the battle at Srirangapattinam. Later, the British rulers kept Tipu Sultan's family in the Vellore fort. At that time, there were 1,500 native and 370 European soldiers in Vellore.

In their attempt to propagate Christianity in this land, the East India Company forced the native soldiers to sport a cross-like emblem in their dress and wear leather shoes. Hindus were banned from displaying their religious mark on the forehead and wearing ear ornaments, while Muslims were forced to shave their beards and trim their moustaches. Irked by these changes, the native soldiers revolted against the alien rule.

In May 1806, Lt. Col. Darley informed his superiors in Madras that the native soldiers were not satisfied with the new changes in army dresses. But he was ordered to send the revolting soldiers to St. George Fort, Madras, where one Hindu and one Muslim soldier were whip lashed and the terminated from service.

When the native soldiers were planning to revolt against the British army on June 17, Mustapha Baig, a soldier of the First Regiment, revealed the secret plan to his officers. July 14 was fixed for the revolt. Due to Baig's treacherous action, the mutiny was advanced to July 10. On July 9, the marriage of Tipu Sultan's daughter was celebrated inside the fort. The people who gathered for the function participated in the mutiny. A native soldier allowed many of his colleagues inside the fort to facilitate the mutiny. At 4 a.m. on July 10, the native soldiers opened fire on the parade ground and spread a rumour that the Europeans were killing Indians. The angered native soldiers fired against the Europeans and killed the army officers. Tipu Sultan's second son, Futheh Hyder, was declared as King. The Mysore flag was hoisted in the fort. Major Gootes, an officer, hastened to Ranipet and informed Col. Gillespie about the mutiny. The latter commanded Her Majesty's 19th Dragons at 7 a.m., immediately rushed to Vellore and brought the mutiny under control after killing 800 native soldiers inside the fort.

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