Thursday, April 8, 2010
This is an attempt to recall legendary hero Mangal Pandey on his death Anniversary, today that is 8th April.
Mangal Pandey was born on 19 July 1827 in the village of Nagwa in the Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh. A sepoy in the 34th Regiment of the Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) of the English East India Company, he entered the annals of Indian history for attacking his British officers, sparking off the First War of Indian Independence or as the British termed it, the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. At Barrackpore near Kolkata on March 29, 1857, Pandey attacked and injured his British sergeant, besides wounding an adjutant. A native soldier prevented him from killing the adjutant and the sergant-major. He was arrested and sentenced to death. He was hanged on April 8, 1857.
The primary reason behind Mangal Pandey's behavior was because of a new type of bullet cartridge used in the Enfield P-53 rifle. It was rumoured that the cartridge was greased with animal fat (pig and cow fat), which neither Hindus nor Muslims consumed. The cartridges had to be bitten off to remove the cover, which was detested by both the Hindu and Muslim soldiers in the army. The general feeling was that British intentionally did it. What added to the discontent was that the Commandant of the 34th BNI(Bengal Native Infantry) was a known Christian preacher.
There are many who have questioned whether Mangal Pandey was a brave martyr or one who attacked his officer under intoxication. The Bollywood movie, The Rising in 2005 was based on the life and times of Mangal Pandey. His life was also the subject of a stage play titled The Roti Rebellion.