Mangal Pandey, born on July 19, 1827, Akbarpur, U.P, in India was an Indian soldier who attacked British officers on March 29, 1857, the first major incident to be known as ‘India’s First War of Independence’ or ‘Sepoy Mutiny’.
- Pandey was from a high-caste Brahmin family that professed strong Hindu beliefs.
- In 1849, he joined the army of East India Company.
- Pandey became a Sepoy (soldier) in the 5th Company of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry (B.N.I) regiment of East India Company.
- He entered the journals of Indian history for attacking British officers, encouraging the First War of Indian Independence or as the British termed it, the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
- During the mid-1850s, a new Enfield rifle was introduced in the army whose cartridges could be loaded only after biting off its ends. There were rumors that the lubricant used in the cartridges was either cow or pig lard. As the cartridge had to be opened by the mouth it impacted their religious beliefs.
- A fight sparked when a low-caste Sepoy teased a high-caste Sepoy for ‘losing his caste’ after biting the cartridge. Pandey led a group of Indian soldiers and refused to use the cartridge.
- At the end of March 1857, Pandey was provoked by the actions of the East India Company and declared that he would rebel against commanders at Calcutta’s Barrack pore parade ground.
- His actions against the British set a series of revolts all over India, which ultimately turned into India’s First War of Independence.
- On March 29, 1857, Pandey reportedly attacked two British officers. After attacking him, Pandey tried to shoot himself but failed.
- Pandey was court-martialled on April 6, 1857, and given a death sentence.
- Mangal Pandey’s execution was scheduled for April 18 but was carried out ten days before the due date i.e. on April 8.
- Several films and tv series have been made at the life of Mangal Pandey. A biographical drama film ‘Mangal Pandey: The Rising’ was released on 12 August 2005 based on the life of Pandey in which Aamir Khan played the role of Mangal Pandey.