Mangal Pandey was an Indin soldier in the British Army who played a crucial role in outbreaking the revolt of 1857 in India. He was employed in the 34th Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) regiment of the British East India Company from 1849 to 1857. On 8 April 1857, he was hanged by the Britishers as a result of his actions against the colonial rule in India.
Mangal Pandey was born on Thursday, 19 July 1827 (age 30 years; at the time of death) in Nagwa, Ballia district, Ceded and Conquered Provinces, Company India. His zodiac sign was Cancer.
Family & Caste
He belonged to the Brahmin community.
Parents & Siblings
He was a follower of Hinduism.
The Bengal Army recruited Mangal Pandy as a private soldier in the 5th Company of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry in 1849.
Various Indian men in the British Army started rebelling against the British government in March 1857, and this information was received by Lieutenant Baugh, who was posted at the Barrackpore as the adjutant of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry. On 29 March 1857, Mangal Pandey was seen pointing a loaded musket towards the regiment’s guard room, and he was heard threatening that he would shoot all Europeans. He was also urging other army men to accompany him. Lieutenant Baugh took his horse and loaded arms soon after receiving the information and headed towards Mangal Pandey. On the other side, Pandey counter-attacked Baugh, and Baugh fell from his horse, but he quickly managed to stand, and he fired at Mangal Pandey, who was using Indian swords. Another British Sergeant, Hewson, arrived at the incident scene and ordered Jemadar Ishwari Prasad, an Indian officer in command of the quarter-guard, to arrest Mangal Pandey. In the meantime, Pandey started firing at Hewson. Hewson tried to capture Mangal Pandey when Pandey was fighting with Lieutenant Baugh, but all was in vain. Soon, other army men gathered near the ground to watch the battle. A British soldier, Shaikh Paltu, who had just reached the incident scene, tried to help Lieutenant Baugh and Hewson; however, the soldiers, who were the spectators, started attacking Paltu with stones and shoes. Paltu called Ishwari Prasad for help, but Ishwari Prasad threatened Paltu that he would shoot him if he would not leave Mangal Pandey. Soon, General Hearsey, the commanding officer of the regiment, was informed about the incident, and he then reached the spot with his two English police officers and ordered his men to capture Mangal Pandey. Hearsay threatened all the spectators there that he would shoot anyone who would try to disobey his orders. During the scuffle with these two army men, Mangal Pandey pressed the trigger of his musket on his own foot, and he started bleeding, and his regimental jacket also caught fire. Mangal Pandey was caught and arrested.
Mangal Pandey was put on court trials soon after his arrest. He stated during the court trials that he was not under influence of anyone, and nobody provoked him to rebel. He took responsibility for his own actions. In one of his statements, Mangal Pandey stated that he was under the influence of an intoxicating substance.
Reportedly, the main aim behind the mutiny of Mangal Pandey remained unclear. During the Barrackpore event, he was heard shouting,
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.”
Soon after his arrest and during the court trials, he stated that he was under the influence of intoxicating substances (Bhang and opium). He further stated to the court that he was unaware of his actions on 29 March 1857.
Before the revolt initiated by Mangal Pandey, there were various reasons that created rumoured mistrust among the Indian men in the British Army. It was said that a new type of bullet cartridge was introduced by the British government to be used in the Enfield P-53 rifle. It was rumoured that these bullets were greased with the fat of cows and pigs. The consumption of cows and pigs was restricted by Hindus and Muslims, respectively, and before using the cartridges, the soldiers had to bite one end of the bullet. It was supposed by some Indian soldiers in the British regiments that the Britishers intentionally greased animal fat on the cartridges so that they could harm the religious sentiments of the Indian communities.
Mangal Pandey was executed by the British government on 8 April 1857 at Barrackpore, Calcutta, Bengal Province, Company India. Ishwari Prasad was hanged on 21 April 1857. Ishwari Prasad was the one who ordered the Sikh members of the quarter-guard not to arrest Mangal Pandey during the Barrackpore event.
- In 1984, the sacrifices of Mangal Pandey were honoured by the Government of India when it issued a postal stamp in his name.
- After Mangal Pandey’s arrest and death, the enquiry records mentioned that Mangal Pandey was intoxicated with Bhang and opium when he snatched the weapons and aimed toward the quarter-guard building.
- Firstly, the hanging date of Mangal Pandey was scheduled for 18 April 1857; however, he was hanged on 8 April 1857 by the colonial government.
- Later, the place where Mangal Pandey challenged the British government was named ‘Shaheed Mangal Pandey Maha Udyan’ in his memory by the government of India.
- According to some historians, Mangal Pandey’s revolt against British rule was more religious than patriotic.
- Mangal Pandey initiated a mutiny against the colonial rule in Barrackpore in 1857, and after his execution, this fire of revolt started spreading to Meerut, Delhi, Cawnpore, and Lucknow.
- Major-General Hearsay sent a proposal to Lord Canning who later sanctioned and allowed the Indian soldiers in the British army to use another form of greasing in cartridges soon after the revolt of Mangal Pandey.
- The rule of the British government in India started losing confidence in its ruling power after the rebellious act of Mangal Pandey. Soon, the ruling power was shifted to Queen Victoria.
- the character of Mangal Pandey was portrayed by Bollywood actor Aamir Khan in the film Mangal Pandey – The Rising in 2005. In the same year, a stage play based on the life of Mangal Pandey was also organised in Mumbai.