P. C. SHARMA
Mangal Pandey was a dare devil revolutionary of country’s first war of Independence, 1857, who being emotionally charged was the first one to press the trigger on 29 March, 1857 against the cruelties and barbaric injustice of well-established Imperialist British Empire which ultimately became instrumental in feverishly awaited full throttled first war of Independence on May 10, 1857 which is acclaimed Red Letter Day in the history of India that is Bharat, our beloved Motherland.It was no child’s play but an herculean deed against the mighty empire during the challenging and tormenting times of slavery. Mangal Pandey’s martyrdom is especially significant in the sense that he daringly challenged the exceedingly tyrannical foreign rulers and dispatched Major Huesan to his heavenly abode in the very first strike. At this point of time when we are emerging as a RisingSovereign Independent Nation and leading the world in the fight against enigmatic COVID-19 it shall be perfectly appropriate occasion to mark our remembrance in the honour of brave heart Mangal Pandey, The rare species of Patriots who laid the solid foundation of our Independence in the line of unsung revolutionaries who are scarcely remembered.Mangal Pandey was son of Diwakar Pandey. He was born in village Nagwan, Akbarpur of Distt. Balia (Faizabad), apparently simple looking but very aggressive and hard core Nationalist by temperament. He had been rendering service in the British Army for the last 7 years in 34th palatoon in the capacity of sepoy no. 1446 in Bairakpur cantonment, Hubli, Calcutta and was about 27 years old at the time of his martyrdom. The message of Freedom movement had widely spread in the 34th Regiment of Mangal Pande and the 19th Regiment both located in Bairakpur cantonment and the soldiers were looking forward to the orders for unleashing the struggle and waging first war of freedom against English Empire. On the other hand Britishers were making the best use of the doctrine of divide and rules by generating wide spread communal disharmony.English commanders introduced Enfield Rifles in which cartridges enclosed in a wrapper laced with cow and pig fat had to be opened with the mouth, in a deliberate attempt to inflame religious sentiments of both Hindus and Muslims. This scheme of things adversely flopped and boomeranged against the British authorities at the spur of the moment. The news of such an ugly tricks and provocative machinations disseminated like wild-fire. 19th Regimen was promptly disbanded. The simmering anger and religious insensitivity of Mangal Pandey got further compounded by hearing the highly provocative satirical remarks of a bevy of womenfolk drawing water from the village well whom he approached for some water to quench his thirst. He introduced himself as a Brahmin and a Sainik. In return they retorted, “Ganga Maiya Ki Charvi Chatne Wale Tum Kaise Brahman Ho? Tum To Gobhakshak Firangoun Ki Joothan Chaat Rahe Ho”. These sarcastic words of village ladies had indelible impression on the impulsive mind of Mangal Pandey and abruptly changed course of events. His patriotic and nationalistic pride was deeply hurt and shattered. He flew into rage, adorned himself as a warrior, ran into the cantonment throwing open challenge to all his fellow soldiers, “Utho Bandhuo;Tumehe Apne Dharam Ki Sughand, Swatantra Ke Liye In Atyacharion Par Prahaar Karo.”On hearing the roaring voice of agitated Pandey smacking of rebellion, Sargeant Major Heusan ran out and ordered the troops to capture him but none of them obeyed his command including on duty Quarter Guard Jamadar Ishwari Pandey. In a rapid action Mangal Pandey fired upon Major Heusan and shot him dead. It was followed by a bloody scuffle with Lieutenant Bob whose sword holding arm was chopped off. The fight further escalated as one English officer advanced towards Pandey but he was killed by Indian soldiers, immediately thereafter Commander General Hearsey accompanied by his two sons arrived at the spot and ordered troops to catch him but in vain, however, a soldier named Sheikh Paltu over powered him from behind. In this catchy situation Mangal Pandey finding arrest and death imminent, tried to shoot him with his Rifle and injured. The English officers moved towards him but Indian soldiers stopped them in their tracks and warned them not to touch this virtuous fighter. This is how the Shree Ganesh of first war of Independence with the first bullet of Mangal Pandey had been triggered. He was court martialed on 6 April, 1857. He was asked, “why did you fire the bullet?” He fearlessly replied, “I harbour no malice against Heusan or Bob. I do harbour malice against the entire British community who have enslaved my country.” Then he was asked, “Tell us the names of people who are part of this Armed rebellious drive against the English establishment.” Mangal Pandey vcurtly replied, “I shall not divulge anything on this issue.”Mangal Pandey was accordingly charged with propagation and waging of Armed rebellion against English Regime coupled with open disobedience to the command of English officers and sentenced to be hanged to death. Accordingly Mangal Pandey was hanged till death on fateful day of 8 April, 1857 on a Bargad Tree in Bairakpur which stands in witness even today. Citation on his memorial states ‘Yahan Par 1857 Ke Vidroh Ki Pahli Goli Chalai Gayi Thi’. This martyrdom of Mangal Pandey, the cynosure of revolutionaries acted as catalyst and became instrumental in generating a spate of youthful revolutionaries in the country and instilled fear psychosis in the mind of English Rulers to the extent of changing their thought process that henceforth India cannot be taken for a ride anymore and also shall not be a cake walk to rule it forever.Mangal Pandey was extremely ebullient patriot. His sacrifice ignited the dormant passion of nationalism in the Indian youth. The fire sparked by Pande turned into an inferno which engulfed not only Delhi but slowly and steadily spread to the whole of India. The first war of freedom commenced from 5 PM. on 10th May,1857 instead of 31st may, 1857 and the freedom fighters with the whole-hearted support of common masses captured Delhi on 11th May, 1857 and scripted Golden History of 1857. It was not an isolated rebellion but a full scale war with startling statistics: At that point of time population of Delhi was 1.5 lakh, out of these 45,000 People were killed which included 4 to 6 thousand revolutionaries, 4,000 English troops, and rest of the people were Delhi citizens. 26 to 27 thousand people were hanged. The war continued for 134 days. Had the troops of Patiala, Nabha and Jeend not aligned with English Regime, rendering them not only military support but financial support as well, the Indian troops bit more united and disciplined, the top commander of forces more experienced in war strategy and powerful, furthermore all the freedom fighters had not converged in Delhi, the History would have been entirely different. The grateful Nation is indebted to the towering sacrifice and martyrdom of unsung Hero, Mangal Pandey who was the first to lay down his life in the foundation of our National edifice. He will remain a perennial source of inspiration for the indian youth forever. Remembering this unsung hero of 1st war of freedom, 1857 is a sweet pleasure and honour in itself. Heartiest salutations.
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