Updated May 30, 2023
Who was Mangal Pandey?
On March 29, the whole of Indian history witnessed the bravery of an ordinary soldier who gave a turning point to the history of free India on April 12, 1857. The epic story is about Mangal Pandey and the memories that prevail today. But what was Mangal Pandey’s contribution to India’s modern history? Let’s take a look below!
Mangal Pandey was born near Faizabad, now known as the eastern Uttar Pradesh state in northern India. A land-owning, upper-caste Brahman family fervently claimed him to be Hindu.
According to some reports, Pandey enlisted in the British East India Company’s army in 1849 after a brigade marched past him and allegedly recruited him. He joined the 34th (BNI) Bengal Native Infantry in the 5th Company, which had a sizable Brahman population, as a soldier (sepoy).
What Happened to Mangal Pandey?
- The mid-1850s saw the introduction of a new Enfield rifle to India, which required a soldier to bite off the ends of polished cartridges to load the weapon.
- At the time, his position was at the garrison in Barrackpore. According to a rumor that circulated, the lubricant was either pig or cow lard, which Muslims and Hindus, respectively, found repulsive. The sepoys started to think the British put fat on the cartridges on purpose.
- Realizing how low the whites could get, there was a silent rumbling among the soldiers. Soldiers became increasingly upset and desired to escalate this matter immediately.
- Soldiers were forming mutiny and planning ways to attack the British officers who took charge of those cartridges and ammunition. On March 29, 1857, Lieutenant Baugh had his posting at Barrackpore. Baugh, one of the cruel British officers, was no different from them and took pleasure in belittling his arms men.
- The sepoys started revolting when the water overflowed to the brim, and the news spread rapidly to the nearby battalions, resembling a forest fire. In no time, Baugh received the information that Mangal Pandey had taken matters into his hands.
- Despite being intoxicated with narcotics, Mangal Pandey remained deeply troubled by the injustice faced by every soldier.
- Pandey pointed his loaded musket at the regiment’s guard room and roared to shoot the Britishers in rage, summoning other army men to revolt. When the officials reported Baugh about this incident, he marched to the incident on his horse along with his ammunition.
- When Mangal Pandey saw Lieutenant Baugh riding towards him in agitation, he fired at Baugh, though missed. Baugh fell from the horse due to a gunshot fired by Panday, who was already prepared to launch a counterattack.
- Baugh instantly sprang to his feet, grabbed a revolver, and began firing at Mangal Pandey. On the opposite side, Pandey began retaliating at Baugh with a sizable Indian sword.
- Hewson, a British Sergeant, soon arrived at the parade ground and gave Jemadar Ishwari Prasad, the Indian officer in charge of the quarter guard, the order to hold Mangal Pandey.
- Hewson approached Pandey in combat and tried to seize him. But Pandey threw Hewson to the floor. After hearing the firing sound, other sepoys gathered around them, but they did not speak or take action.
- A British soldier named Shaikh Paltu intervened during the altercation and attempted to save the two English police officers. The onlookers began tossing shoes and stones at Paltu’s back. When Shaikh Paltu summoned the guard for assistance, the soldiers threatened to hit him if he didn’t leave Pandey.
- As soon as General Hearsey learned of the tragedy, he and his two officers descended to the ground. Upon reaching the bottom, he ordered his two companions to apprehend Mangal Pandey and threatened to shoot anyone who defied him.
- His two soldiers obeyed him, starting to follow Mangal Pandey once he gave the order. Mangal Pandey pulled the gun’s trigger with the heel of his foot after putting the muzzle to his chest. He began to bleed, and this set fire to his regimental jacket.
The Tragic end of a Brave Soldier
- The authorities put Mangal Pandey on trial a week after the Barrackpore incident once he had recovered from his injuries. He testified that he voluntarily rebelled against the British, independent of any external influence.
- Additionally, he said that he had consumed alcohol. Along with Ishwari Prasad, who had instructed the Sikh members of the quarter-guard not to capture Pandey, the British authorities sentenced Mangal Pandey to death.
- They put him to death on April 8, 1857, while they executed Jemadar Ishwari Prasad on April 21.