India’s first struggle for Independence in 1857-1858, started as an uprising protesting against the cartridges given to the soldiers. These new cartridges which had to be rammed down the barrel of the gun were greased with tallow containing both cow’s fat and pig’s fat which were offensive to both Hindus and Muslims. The offending cartidges were withdrawn, but the existing ones became suspect, so did cooking oil and flour. In Meerut, the British Command court martialled eighty-five troops for refusing the suspect cartidges and humiliated them in front of the entire garrison. The next day, their comrades-in-arms rose as one to free them. They broke into the armory and started massacring the European Community. This lit the fire which spread across the Gagngetic plain.
Update: Vikas Kamat has some pictures of the “forgotten heroes”:http://www.kamat.com/vikas/blog.php?date=8/10/2003
[Adapted from India: A History]