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What objections did the sepoys have to the new cartridges that they were asked to use?

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  • Last Updated : 09 Feb, 2023
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The major reason for the objection to using the new cartridges was the new ‘Enfield rifle’. The local Indian soldiers, who have been the part of the armed forces of East India Company were known as the sepoys, these sepoys were majorly from the poorer sections of the country and were readily available. They were enlisted in the British armed forces in a large number. As Indians, most of them were related to either Hindus or Muslims.

When the new “Enfield rifle” was first made available to the armies, it was thought that the cartridge of this rifle were lubricated with pig and cow fat. It was inappropriate for their religious beliefs to use it, the main reason was that it has to be bitten off before being loaded into the gun. As a result, the sepoys of Muslims and Hinduism refused to use the new cartridge. Which, eventually became the immediate reason for the revolt of 1857, causing thousands of soldiers to rebel against the British government.


Due to this, on March 29, 1857, a young soldier by the name of Mangal Pandey—who himself came from a brahmin family—started the uprising by refusing to use the cartridge and attacking the British officer. He was therefore executed by hanging. Even though the incident wasn’t particularly significant, it had a significant impact on the Indian soldier, who was already bitter toward the British government. He was followed by numerous others but  Meerut regiment soldiers who began to rebel against the British government and refuse to use the new cartridge. Eventually, the incident grew in size and gave rise to the 1857 uprising.

Here are some of the major concerns sepoys had about using the new cartridges.

  • Using the fat of cows and Pigs: The major reason for the refusal of using the new cartridge was that it was greased with the cow and pigs’ fat. which enraged the sepoys.
  • Promoting Christianity: The Indian soldiers believed that the main goal of the Britishers behind the new cartridges is to convert both Hindus and Muslims into Christianity and denigrate their religion.
  • Harm to their religious beliefs: Hindus and Muslims, both religions have their own beliefs. Eating cows and pigs’ meat is forbidden in the respective cultures. Using the new cartridge was harming their religious beliefs, which enraged them. as they believed that the British government is trying to denigrate their religion.
  • Using the mouth to remove the covering: The cartridge was coated with beef and pig’s fat, which needed to remove before loading into the rifle. To remove it the sepoys needed to bite it by their mouth, which caused the objection.

FAQs on Sepoys

Question 1: What did the British do to promote Christianity in India?


The British East India Company permitted Christian missionaries to operate freely and even own land and property in its territory in order to promote Christianity. The new law that makes it simpler for people to change their religion to Christianity was passed by the company in 1850. also encourage them to change their religion by offering them a number of benefits. Because of this, many Indians started to believe that the British were destroying their culture, including their religion and social customs.

Question 2: What could be the reason for the confidence of the British rulers about their position in India?


Britishers were confident as the Indian soldiers were loyal and faithful to them. Many Zamindars and kings supported britishers. Before 1857, riots and rebellions which took place were easily suppressed.

Question 3: What changes did the company make in its policies after the rebellion of 1857?


Following the 1857 uprising, the Indian government was directly taken over by the British Crown. The Crown received the East India Company’s authority. They made the following modifications in their policies to change the situation. 

  • In order to prevent future insurrections against the British, the Doctrine of Lapse policy was abolished,
  • The army’s Indian sepoy population was reduced, 
  • Zamindars’ and landowners’ rights were strengthened,
  • And the Crown pledged not to interfere with people’s religious practices.
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