March 29, 1857 Revolt started by Mangal Pandey in Barrackpore Cantonment and was hanged on April 8, 1857. Gradually the rebellion spread and by May 10, 1857, the revolution had spread widely. In the revolt of 1857, the rebel soldiers started moving to Delhi and elected Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar to lead the revolution.
Why was Bahadur Shah Zafar chosen ?
First Reason: After Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka, the Mughals had done political integration in the north and south of the land of India, although Kanishka, Harshavardhana and Gupta also ruled a large area but it remained confined only to the northern part of the Indian peninsula . But during the more than 300 years of Mughal rule, due to religious tolerance and administrative efficiency, political integration took place in North and South India, due to which the people of all communities living in India remained confident in the Mughal leadership.
Second Reason: Due to the trust of all the communities in the Mughal rule during the rule of 300 years, the natural leadership in the revolution of 1857 came to Bahadur Shah Zafar. At that time, the revolutionaries were also thinking the same thing because the all India leadership consensus was with the Mughals, so Bahadur Shah Zafar was chosen by the revolutionaries. It is also important that the revolutionaries were politically motivated and the role of religion in this was negligible.
Was Bahadur Shah Zafar able to give successful leadership ?
At that time the Mughal leadership and influence had become very weak as the later sultans like Akbar, Jahangir and Aurangzeb did not emerge but the Mughals were recognized from the psychological point of view of all India.
Bahadur Shah Zafar was very old at that time and was not even effective but under the insistence and compulsion of the revolutionaries, he accepted the leadership of the revolution of 1857 but he was only a symbol in it because the real leadership was with General Bakht Khan.
Reasons for not giving successful leadership
Due to his compulsion, old age, lack of personality and weak Mughal power, Bahadur Shah Zafar could not give it a successful leadership and after some time when the British returned effectively in repression, they were prosecuted and banned by the British.
What did Bahadur Shah Zafar do for the revolution ?
Bahadur Shah accepted the leadership after initial hesitation and after that he wrote letters to all the important rulers to fight the British. Court was created to hear public issues. Along with this he also tried to form a federation or an organization to fight the British rule.
Gradually, in the areas of East Punjab, Central India, Bihar, Bengal, Awadh, Rohilkhand, Doab, Bundelkhand etc., many rulers raised their voice against the British.
Bahadur Shah Zafar after the revolution
With his military prowess and strategy in the English, he won back the territories lost from the revolution of 1857, one by one. He arrested Bahadur Shah Zafar by luring some reliable people and taking Sikh, Madrasi soldiers on his side and after that his two sons and one grandson were also murdered. After this Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried and sent to Burma on pension.
Who was General Bakht Khan
The leadership of Bahadur Shah Zafar was ceremonial while the real command was with General Bakht Khan who was actually leading the military revolutionaries and reached Delhi with the soldiers.
General Bakht Khan had persuaded the Mughal emperor for many things. There were ten people in Bakht Khan’s team, 6 from the army and 4 from the civil department. This team also functioned like a court subordinate to the Mughal emperor.