Born on 19 July 1827 in the village of Nagwa in the Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh, Mangal Pandey was the first soldier who played a major role in events immediately preceding the outbreak of the Indian rebellion of 1857. He was a true hero, who fought against the British rule for India’s Independence. Mangal Pandey, a sepoy (soilder) in the 34th Regiment of the Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) of the East India Company, entered the chronicles of Indian history for attacking the British officers, flickering up the First War of Indian Independence, which popularly came to be known as the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.

In the year 1849 at the age of 22, Mangal Pandey joined the sepoy power of the British East India Company. He was a devoted Hindu and practiced his religion sternly. It was alleged that the cartridge used in the Enfield P-53 rifle, which was used by the Indian sepoys were greased with the fat of pig and cow fat. These cartridges had to be bitten off in order to take out the cover before using them and this went against the religious beliefs of the Muslims and Hindus. The common opinion was that the Britishers had intentionally done this to hurt the emotions of Indians and this was the main cause behind the outburst of Mangal Pandey’s anger.

On the afternoon of 29 March 1857, at Barrackpore Lieutenant Baugh, Adjutant of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry (BNI), was clued-up that several men of his regiment were in an energized. Further, it was reported to him that one of them by the name of Mangal Pandey, was pacing in front of the regiment's guard room by the parade ground, armed with a loaded musket, calling upon the men to insurgent and intimidating to shoot the first European that saw. Baugh without delay armed himself and mounted his horse. Pandey took position at the back of the station gun, which was in front of the quarter-guard of the 34th and took aim at Baugh and fired. He missed Baugh, but the bullet struck his horse in the side, and it fell down along with Baugh. Baugh quickly unravelled himself and, grabbed one of his pistols, towards Pandey and fired but it missed the shot. Even before Baugh could draw his sword, Pandey attacked him with a sword, closing with the adjutant, slashed Baugh on the shoulder and neck and brought him to the ground. It was then that another sepoy, Shaikh Paltu, interceded and tried to hold him back even as he tried to reload his musket.

Mangal Pandey was soon surrounded by guards and officers and seeing no ways to escape, he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself but unfortunately, he was seriously injured. He was court-martialled on April 6, and on April 8, 1857, he was hanged at Barrackpore and India lost a great soldier. He was the first freedom fighters and revolutionaries, who openly challenged the British Government and with the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, the freedom movement of India started in the true sense.

Birth: 19 July 1827

Martyrdom: 8th April 1857

Achievement: Initiated the first war of India's Independence in 1857