Mangal Pandey: The Great Indian Freedom Fighter

Mangal Pandey: Mangal Pandey was an Indian soldier in the British army. It is widely believed that Mangal Pandey was one of the key figures behind Sepoy Mutiny. Mangal Pandey was born on July 19, 1827.  Mangal Pandey pioneered the sepoy mutiny, which eventually led to the rebellion of 1857. The primary reason Sepoy Mutiny was because of a new type of bullet cartridge used in the Enfield P-53 rifle. The cartridges that were used in the rifle by the Britishers were rumoured to be greased with animal fat particularly cow and pig. In order to load bullets in the rifle, a soldier had to bite the cartridges. The use of the cartridges made up of animal fat angered the Indian soldiers and revolt rose up against the company as it hurt their religious belief. This made Mangal Pandey to revolt against the Britishers. Let’s take a look at the biography of Mangal Pandey and his struggles against the Britishers.

Overview

Born 19 July 1827
Religion Hinduism
Place of Birth Nagwa, Ballia district, Uttar Pradesh, India
Nationality Indian
Death 8 April 1857 (aged 29), Barrackpore, Calcutta, West Bengal, India
Known For Mutineer / Indian freedom fighter

Early life of Mangal Pandey

Mangal Pandey was born on 19 July 1827 in a Brahmin family at Nagwa, a village of upper Ballia district (now in Uttar Pradesh). Mangal Pandey’s father Divakar Pandey was a peasant. Mangal Pandey joined the British East India Company army in 1849 as a young 22-year-old. He was appointed as a soldier (sepoy) in the 6th Company of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry. There were also several other Brahmin young men in his regiment.

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Revolt of 1857

One of the main reasons of the revolt of 1857 was the introduction of the ‘Enfield’ rifle. The cartridge had to be bitten off before loading it into the gun. Indian sepoys believed that the cartridge was greased with animal fat (pig and cow fat). This was against the Hindu and Muslim sentiments and religious ideologies. They were reluctant to use the ‘Enfield’ rifle. Mangal Pandey was a staunch Hindu Brahmin. He was enraged by the alleged use of lard in the cartridges. Mangal Pandey decided to take violent action against the British to show them his disapproval. This was believed to be one of the main factors for the revolt of 1857.

On 29 March 1857, Mangal Pandey, paced in front of the regiment’s guard room by the parade ground with a loaded musket, inciting the other Indian soldiers to revolt against the British. Several other men were supported Mangal Pandey and came along with him. Mangal Pandey planned to kill the first European he set his eyes on. Lieutenant Baugh, Adjutant of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry (BNI), learned of the revolt and galloped on his horse to disperse the rebellious men. Upon seeing him approach towards him, Mangal Pandey aimed and fired at Baugh. The bullet missed the British officer but hit his horse, brought him down. Mangal Pandey was arrested and ordered to be executed on April 18. However, fearing a revolt from other sepoys, the British authorities hanged him on April 8, ten days before the scheduled date.

Legacy of Mangal Pandey

  • Mangal Pandey is remembered as a freedom fighter against British rule. A commemorative postage stamp with his image on it was issued by the Indian government in 1984.
  • The place where Mangal Pandey opened fire on the British Officers and where he was later hanged is known as ‘Shaheed Mangal Pandey Maha Udyan’ now.
  • The Bollywood movie, ‘Mangal Pandey – The Rising’ that was released in 2005 was based on the life and times of Mangal Pandey. His life was also the subject of a stage play titled ‘The Roti Rebellion’.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What was the reason of Mangal Pandey’s revolt against the Britishers?
The primary reason Sepoy Mutiny was because of a new type of bullet cartridge used in the Enfield P-53 rifle. The use of the cartridges made up of animal fat angered the Indian soldiers and revolt rose up against the company as it hurt their religious belief. This made Mangal Pandey to revolt against the Britishers.

Q. How old was Mangal Pandey when he joined East India Company’s Army?
Mangal Pandey joined the British East India Company army in 1849 as a young 22-year-old. He was appointed as a soldier (sepoy) in the 6th Company of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry.

Q. When did Mangal Pandey die?
Mangal Pandey was arrested and ordered to be executed on April 18. However, fearing a revolt from other sepoys, the British authorities hanged him on April 8

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