Mangal Pandey (19 July 1827 – 8 April 1857) is synonymous for his role in the initial stages of the Indian Uprising of 1857. Born in Uttar Pradesh, Pandey was a Sepoy in the 6th company of the 34th Native Infantry .The daring attack on a superior officer provoked the spark of India’s First War of Independence. Mangal Pandey became the first freedom fighter and martyr of 1857.
The reason for the uprising reached its culmination as the British introduced reforms which were very stringent and unfair. The provision provided for sepoys were meager with paltry salaries. The East India Company made matters worse by introducing the Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle. The cartridges for these rifles were coated with grease membrane that has to be cut by the teeth, before loading.
The rumor was the membrane was extracted from the fat of either cow or pig. This proved to be the last straw, as it is offensive to both Hindu as well as Muslim soldiers. There was no reasoning with the sepoys, despite the permission to create grease from vegetable oil.
On March 29,1857, Mangal Pandey launched an open mutiny at Barrackpore near Kolkata. Wounded in the combat , Pandey was arrested and sent to the gallows. Mangal Pandey’s execution was scheduled for April 18, but was carried out ten days earlier.
In 1984, the Indian government issued a postage stamp bearing the image of Mangal Pandey on October 5,1984,commemorating his spirit. His valor has become the subject of films, plays and fiction.