Mangal Pandey was a sepoy in the 34th Regiment of the Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) of the English East India Company. He is widely known in India as one of its first freedom fighters. The Indian government has issued an Indian Postage Stamp to commemorate him as a distinguished freedom fighter. Beyond that his life and actions have also been adapted to the silver screen.
At Barrackpore on the afternoon of March 29, 1857, Lieutenant Baugh, Adjutant of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry (BNI), was informed that several men of his regiment were in an excited state. Further, it was reported to him that one of them, 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 rebel and threatening to shoot the first European he set his eyes on. Baugh immediately buckled on his sword, placed loaded pistols in his holsters, mounted his horse, and galloped to the lines. Pandey took position behind the station gun, which was in front of the quarter-guard of the 34th, took aim at Baugh and fired. He missed Baugh, but the bullet struck his horse in the flank, and horse and rider were brought down. Baugh quickly disentangled himself and, seizing one of his pistols, advanced towards Pandey and fired. He missed. Before Baugh could draw his sword, Pandey attacked him with a talwar (a heavy Indian sword) and closing with the adjutant, slashed him on the shoulder and neck and brought him to the ground. It was then that another sepoy, Shaikh Paltu, intervened and tried to restrain Pandey even as he tried to reload his musket.
Mangal Pandey was born on 19 July 1827 in the village Nagwa, of Ballia district in Uttar Pradesh of India to a Bhumihar Brahmin family.
He joined the East India Company’s forces in 1849 at the age of 22. Pandey was part of the 6th Company of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry and is primarily known for his involvement in an attack on several of the regiment’s officers. This incident marked an opening stage in what came to be known as the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 or the First War of Indian Independence. It is said that Pandey was a devout Hindu who practiced his religion diligently.