Mangal Pandey was an Indian soldier who played a key part in the events immediately preceding the outbreak of the Indian rebellion of 1857. Mangal Pandey was born in Nagwa, a village of upper Ballia district, Ceded and Conquered Provinces (now in Uttar Pradesh), to a Hindu Brahmin family.
He was a sepoy (infantryman) in the 34th Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) regiment of the British East India Company.
It was the afternoon of 29 March 1857, when Lieutenant Baugh, Adjutant of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry was informed that several men of his regiment were in an excited state. One of them, Mangal Pandey, was pacing in front of the regiment's guard room by the parade ground, armed with a loaded musket, calling upon the men to rebel and threatening to shoot the first European that he set eyes on.
He was shouting to other sepoys: "come out – the Europeans are here"; "from biting these cartridges we shall become infidels" and "you sent me out here, why don't you follow me".
Pandey's reference to cartridges is usually attributed to a new type of bullet cartridge used in the Enfield P-53 rifle which was to be introduced in the Bengal Army that year. The cartridge was thought to be greased with animal fat, primarily from cows and pigs, which could not be consumed by Hindus and Muslims respectively (the former a holy animal of the Hindus and the latter being abhorrent to Muslims).
After this incidence, where Mangal Pandey severely injured himself by his own musket, the British East India Company court-martialled Mangal Pandey and the court sentenced him to death by hanging. His execution took place on 8 April 1957.
The attack by and punishment of Pandey is widely seen as the beginning of what came to be known as the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
Knowledge of his action was widespread amongst his fellow sepoys and is assumed to have been one of the factors leading to the general series of mutinies that broke out during the following months.
Mangal Pandey would prove to be influential for later figures in the Indian Nationalist Movement like V.D. Savarkar, who viewed his motive as one of the earliest manifestations of Indian Nationalism.
With Best Regards,
Dr TP Singh
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