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Mangal Pandey: A Hero of Indian Independence

Saturday, August 11, 2012 | 3:31:00 AM

In 1857, Mangal Pandey was a solider in 34th Regiment of the Bengal native infantry of the East India Company. He was famous for his bravery because he saved the life of his British commanding officer. He did not fear death. He was ready to fight against injustice.

Everything was going fine. Tension started with the introduction of a new rifle. At that time the British army constituted 96% of Indians.The rifle has to be loaded
with a cartridge. Before loading, it has to be bitten by the mouth and the gun powder has to be poured into the rifle. They were shown the demonstration how to load the cartridge in the rifle. Some soldiers came to knew that the cartridges which held gun power were greased with either pig fat or beef tallow. Rumours started spreading. These made the soldiers in the infantry angry because for Hindus cows were a scared animal. They used to worship the cows. The British tried explaining the soldiers, and even asked them to make their own grease from vegetable oils. Now the rumours came into the ears of Mangal Pandey. He inquired about the whole situation. He found that the rumours are correct. This made him angry and violent. He decided not to compromise. He decided to revolt against this order. Some soldiers shook hands with him in this act.

The news of revolt reached into the ears of the Britishers. They ordered Lt. Baugh to investigate the situation. He tried to pacify the soldiers but the situation got
out of control and Mangal Pandey fired at him. He was safe but the bullet killed his horse. Due to his disrespect against a senior officer he was arrested and put in the jail but somehow he escaped. This resulted in a revolt. However it was crushed by the two units called from Rangoon. Mangal Pandey tried to commit suicide but was captured alive. He was again put in the jail.

The Britishers were in a shock due the effect of the revolt. They decided to hang Mangal Pandey. On 8th April, 1857 he was hanged till death.

In 1984 the Indian government issued a postage stamp to commemorate him. A park is named 'Sahid Mangal Pandey Udyan' in the memory of Mangal Pandey where he attacked British officers and was hanged, at Barrackpore road in Barrackpore sub-divisional town in North 24 Parganas district. A play named ‘The Roti Rebellion’ is based on his life.

He is widely regarded as a freedom fighter in modern India. He reaped the seed for getting independence from the British rule.

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