What was the immediate cause of the revolt of 1857?
The Company administration introduced the new Enfield rifle whose cartridge had a greased paper cover. It had to be bitten off before it could be loaded into the rifle. A rumour that the cover contained cow and pig fat started doing the rounds. Cow was sacred to the Hindus, and pig was taboo for the Muslims. As a result, both religious groups felt insulted and cheated. The cartridge incident proved to be the final straw as the sepoys were already seething with discontent because of a variety of other social, economic and political policies of the British Government. Finally, on 29 March 1857, Mangal Pandey, a sepoy at the Barrackpore cantonment, refused to use the cartridges. As a result, he was hanged to death. The news spread like wildfire and on 9 May, 85 soldiers at Meerut too refused to use the new equipment. They were court-martialled and sentenced to 10 years. To further buttress the point, they were stripped in front of their colleagues and thrown into jail. This resulted in the other sepoys rising in revolt. They ransacked the jail and freed their comrades and even cut off the telegraph lines to Delhi. Even the European officers were not spared and their houses were set on fire. Thus began the revolt of 1857.