The hero of the first freedom struggle of India: Mangal Pandey

Kriti Billore

The history of Indian freedom struggle is great and interesting. The entire story consists of many people who played major roles in making the nation independent and free from British atrocities. 

An Indian soldier, whose attack on British officers on March 29, 1857, became the first major incident of what came to be known as the Indian, or Sepoy, Mutiny, was Mangal Pandey.

Pandey was born in Nagwa near Ballia district in Uttar Pradesh on 19 July, 1827, but some records say that his birth place is a small village near Lalitpur. He belonged to a high-caste Brahman landowning family which had strong Hindu beliefs. 
Mangal joined army of the British East India Company in 1849, some accounts state that he was recruited by a brigade that marched past him. He became a soldier (sepoy) in the 6th Company of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry, which included a large number of Brahmans. Pandey was ambitious and viewed his profession as a stepping-stone for his future success.

Pandey’s career ambitions, however, came into conflict with his strong and strict religious beliefs. When he was posted at the garrison in Barrackpore in the mid-1850s, a new Enfield rifle was introduced in India which required a soldier to bite off the ends of greased cartridges in order to load the weapon. According to a rumour the lubricant used was either cow or pig lard, which was repellent to Hindus and Muslims, respectively. The belief arose among the sepoys that the British had deliberately used the lard on the cartridges.

There are various stories and accounts about the events of March 29, 1857. However, the general agreement is that Pandey tried to agitate his fellow sepoys to rise up against their British officers. Mangal Pandey attacked two of the officers and tried to shoot himself after having been restrained, and eventually was overpowered and arrested. Some contemporary reports say that he was under the influence of drugs, possibly cannabis or opium and was not aware of his actions. Pandey was soon sentenced to death. His execution (by hanging) was set for April 18, but the British authorities were scared of an outbreak of a large-scale revolt if they waited until then and therefore they shifted the hanging to April 8. Resistance to the use of Enfield cartridges later that month in Meerut led to the outbreak of a revolt there in May, and the start of a larger insurrection.

In india Mangal Pandey is remembered as a great freedom fighter. His rebel againt the british rule inspired alot of Indians to stand against the Britishers and fight for the nation. 

A commemorative postage of his image was issued by the Indian Government in 1984. 

In 2005, a movie starring Aamir khan which was directed by Ketan Mehta and also a stage play on his life were made.  

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