Between 24th April and 10th May, 1857 a major event unfolded in Meerut which are detailed and documented for the first of all time in this Museum. One of the leaders who coordinated the revolt of 1857 arrived in Meerut as a fakir (saint). He incited the people, as well as the Native soldiers to get together and fight the rule of the British East Company.
Col. Carmychael Smyth was the commandant of the 3rd Native Light Cavalry Regiment. He wanted to test the willingness of his soldiers to use the disputed cartridges of the new Enfield Rifles. On the 24th of April 1857, he ordered 90 carbineers of his regiment to use the cartridges at a special parade called for this purpose. Out of these 90, 85 refused to use the cartridges. This was taken to be the utmost act of disobedience by the commandant.
These 85 soldiers were then tried at a special court-martial that lasted 3 days. All 85 soldiers were awarded a punishment of 10 years imprisonment for refusing to obey orders. Later the punishment of 5 soldiers was reduced to 5 years in consideration of their age.On the 9th of May the authorities committed their gravest mistake. They did it on purpose but had a long time to repent for it later. On that fateful day the punishment of these 85 soldiers was carried out in front of the whole Meerut Garrison. They were brought to the heart of the British side of the cantonment and made to assemble at the British Infantry parade ground. Here they were made to stand in the center. Around them were the three Indian Regiments, which had been specifically disarmed and dismounted for this purpose. The three British Regiments were armed and mounted and put in such a position around the Indian Regiments that if any soldier committed even the slightest provocation, he can be immediately cut down. The order of the punishment was read out, the uniforms of the 85 soldiers were publicly thus removed and shackles were put on them there and then in front of everyone. The Indian regiments stood through all this, feeling dishonor and shame, which they carried with them to their barracks. The British officers thought that a good lesson had been taught to the native, but something else rose out of all this.