A still of Aamir Khan from the 2005 film 'Mangal Pandey: The Rising'
A still of Aamir Khan from the 2005 film 'Mangal Pandey: The Rising'

Mangal Pandey was an Indian soldier who played a key part in the events immediately preceding the outbreak of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. He was a Sepoy in the 34th Bengal Native Infantry regiment of the British East India Company. Due to his attack on two British officers, Mangal Pandey was hanged to death on April 8, 1857, at the age of 29.

Why did Mangal Pandey attack the British officers?

A new Enfield rifle was introduced in India by the British and the rumour going around was that the cartridges were greased with animal fat, primarily from pigs and cows.

To use the rifle, the soldiers would have to bite off the ends of the greased cartridges in order to load the gun. Since cows are holy animals to Hindus and pigs are considered repugnant to Muslims, it's use was considered controversial by the Indian soldiers.

The Indian soldiers thought that the British did this on purpose to dishonour the religion of the Indian soldiers.

Mangal Pandey, who was a devoted Hindu Brahmin was furious by the suspected use of fat in the cartridges and decided to take a stand and show his disapproval by taking a violent stand against the British.

At the Barrackpore ground near Kolkata, on 29 March 1857, Pandey attacked and injured his British sergeant and wounded an adjutant. During this attack, Pandey too was wounded. He recovered and was brought to trial less than a week later.

When asked if he had been under the influence of any substances, Pande stated that he had mutinied on his own accord and that no other person had played any part in encouraging him. He was then hanged to death on April 8, 1857.

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