Mangal Pandey | The Harbinger of Revolution!

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His Life: A Pioneer of Indian Nationalism

  • Year 1827 – Born in Nagwa village of Ballia district, Uttar Pradesh.
  • Year 1830 – His sister died in the famine.
  • Year 1849 – Joined the Army of British East India Company in 1849.
  • Year 1857 – Got posted at the garrison in Barrackpore, West Bengal.
  • Year 1857 – Assaulted English officers to protest.
  • Year 1857 – Was executed by the Britishers.

“Yeh azaadi ki ladai hai … ghuzre hue kal se azaadi … aane waale kal ke liye..”

Mangal Pandey was an Indian soldier whose act against Britishers triggered the revolt of 1857. He was a soldier in one of the regiments of the East India Company. He is widely revered for being the pioneer of India’s First War of Independence.

Childhood

He was born to the Divakar Pandey, a peasant into a Bhumihar Brahmin family. He was born on July 19, 1827 in the Nagwa village of Ballia district, Uttar Pradesh. He had a sister who died in the famine of 1830.

Personal Life

He was born into a Brahmin family who was an ardent follower of the Hinduism. His upbringing shaped his religious beliefs which later led to the conflict of 1857.

Political Journey

Pandey joined the Army of British East India Company in 1849. Few accounts suggest that he was recruited by the marching brigade when it passed him in Akbarpur on their way to Benares. He was appointed as a soldier in the 6th Company of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry (BNI). He was pretty excited to join the military and was an ambitious young man. Although with the passage of time he grew wary of the Britishers and their policies towards India. During the mid 1850s he became a private soldier in the 5th Company of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) and was stationed at a garrison in Barrackpore, West Bengal.
Most of the soldiers in his company were Brahmins and Muslims. During this time a new Enfield rifle was assigned to the soldiers. It was rumored that the cartridge for the rifle was greased with pig or cow lard. Both of them were offensive to the religious beliefs of Hindus and Muslims. The rumor infuriated the soldiers and unrest spread among them. It is widely believed that Pandey was the first person to oppose the Britishers and tried to provoke other soldiers for rebellion.
On March 29, 1857, Lieutenant Baugh was informed of the unrest and he ran towards Pandey on his horse. Pandey fired the bullet at him, but missed. Instead the bullet hit the horse, bringing the horse and the rider down to the ground. Pandey blew another strike on him with his sword gravely injuring him. Another officer named Hewson attacked Pandey but he knocked Hewson down with his rifle. The two officers fled the scene to save their lives. In the meantime, Commanding Officer, General Hearsey was informed of the incident and he came to restrain Pandey accompanied by other soldiers.
Anticipating his inevitable arrest, Pandey shot himself with his own rifle. His jacket absorbed most of the firepower and he survived.

Later Life

Pandey was captured and sent to the court martial. He was sentenced to death for his act of mutiny along with Ishwari Prasad, who tried to help Pandey. His execution by hanging scheduled for April 18, 1857, but was carried out on April 8 due to the fear of bigger revolt. Ishwari Prasad was hanged on April 21, 1857.
The news of the rebellion and the death of Mangal Pandey spread throughout the country like a wildfire. The revolts and mutinies soon followed in the coming times. The incident came to be known as the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and it instigated the idea of Nationalism among Indians.
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