The Rebellion of 1857, then known as the Indian Mutiny or Soldiers’ Mutiny by the British and later by the Indians as the ‘Indian War of Independence’ , played an important role in the Indian liberation struggle. Mangal Pandey, a soldier who first started it, played a key role in this. Today is his birth anniversary.

The soldiers’ revolt aroused the national zeal and desire for liberation of the Indian people who were enslaved under British Raj. The British government made great efforts to suppress real information about India’s first war of independence which shook the British Empire. Savarkar was hounded by the British for writing a book on the topic in defiance of the ban. British banned the book even before it was printed.

Even now, when reading historical articles about these events, bullets smeared with cow and lard are portrayed as the sole cause of the revolution. (The bullets should be loaded after being put in the mouth. The cow is sacred to Hindus and the pig is repugnant to Muslims).

But Savarkar denies this, arguing in his book ‘Indian War of Independence’ that the ‘rumour’ was a spark in the revolution against British Raj and that the mutiny may have been caused by something else even though that spark did not form. With this in mind, it is good to see the actions of Mangal Pandey.

Mangal Pandey was born on July 19, 1827, in a small village in eastern Uttar Pradesh to a Brahmin family. In 1849 he joined the British Indian Army as a soldier in the Sixth Company in the 34th Native Bengal Infantry.

There are various opinions as to what happened on March 29, 1857. But what is generally accepted is that Mangal Pandey killed two British officers, asked the soldiers who were with him to cause a riot, and tried to commit suicide with his gun when captured. He was later sentenced to death by hanging on April 18. The British government carried out his execution 10 days earlier, on April 8, fearing further riots if the government waited that long. He died at the age of 29, marking the beginning of one of the greatest uprisings against British imperialism in Indian history.

The Sixth Company, of which he was a soldier, was completely dissolved in ‘disgrace’. Although Mangal Pandey admitted that he had no one to help him and that he had acted alone in court, the entire company was disbanded, claiming that the other soldiers were idle when he killed the British officers and thus unreliable.

The name had a profound effect on the British. After that, any soldier involved in the war of liberation was called a ‘Pandey’.

Courtesy: wbpscupsc

Fear of the British was not in vain. Although the revolt, which lasted until 1858, ended in defeat, it was a major turning point in Indian history. He was the spark in the Indian freedom struggle. The East India Company was dissolved by the British government. India came under direct British rule. Queen Victoria was also crowned Queen of India. The Government of India Act 1858 came into force.

In 1984, the Government of India issued a postage stamp commemorating Mangal Pandey. In 2005, Mangal Pandey: The Rising, a film and drama based on his life, was released.


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