Mangal Pandey was hanged on April 8, 1857. The local executioners had refused to hang him. After this, four executioners were called from Kolkata and this soldier was hanged. But only a few people know that Mangal Pandey, born on July 19, 1827, tried to take his own life several days before the hanging. And, he was seriously injured in this attempt.
Mangal Pandey was posted
This was the 29th of March in the year 1857. Pandey was posted with the 34th Bengal Native Infantry at Barrackpore. From being forcibly converted to Christianity among the soldiers, many kinds of rumors were spreading. One of these rumors was that many European soldiers were coming to kill Indian soldiers. Historian Kim A. Wagner, in his book ‘The Great Fear of 1857 – Rumors, Conspiracies, and Making of the Indian Uprising’, has described the events of March 29 sequentially.
Wagner writes, “Knowing the fear in the soldiers’ mind, Major General JB Hersey dismissed the news of European soldiers attacking Indian soldiers as rumors, but it is possible that Hersey confirmed these rumors that had reached the soldiers. The situation worsened later. The constable who was terrified by this speech of the Major General was also Pandey of 34th Bengal Native Infantry.
The evening of March 29, stained with blood
Mangal Pandey was cleaning the gun in his tent at 4 pm on March 29. Wagner writes, “It was 4 p.m. Mangal Pandey was cleaning the gun in his tent. After a while, he came to know about the European soldiers. The restlessness among the soldiers and the cannabis intoxicated Mangal Pandey was gripped by panic. Wearing his official jacket, cap, and dhoti, Mangal Pandey took his sword and gun and ran towards the parade ground near the Quarter Guard building.”
British historian Rosie Llewellyn Jones in her book “The Great Uprising in India, 1857 – 58 Untold Stories, Indian and British” describes the incident of Mangal Pandey attacking two British military officers.
Jones writes, “Armed with a sword and his gun, Mangal Pandey started instigating his regiment by walking in front of the Quarter Guard (Building). He was provoking the soldiers of the regiment by saying that they would be eliminated by European soldiers. Sergeant Major James Hwison went out on foot to know about all this. And, according to Havildar Sheikh Paltu, an eyewitness of the whole incident, Pandey fired at Hewson. But the bullet did not hit Wesson.”
The wave of Mangal Pandey’s sword
Jones writes, “When Adjutant Lieutenant Bempade Bagh was informed about this, he reached there riding on his horse and saw Pandey loading his gun. Mangal Pandey fired once again and once again missed the target. Bagh also targeted Pandey with his pistol, but the bullet did not hit the target.”
After Pandey, another constable Ishwari Prasad Pandey was hanged. Historian Kim A Wagner writes of this soldier, “When Sergeant Major Hwison asked Ishwari Pandey to capture Mangal Pandey, Ishwari Prasad replied – “What can I do, my heroes have gone to the adjutant, constable.” Have gone to the field officer, can I control him alone?”
Mangal Pandey attacked the sergeant
Jones further writes about this conflict, “Mangal Pandey attacked the sergeant major and the adjutant with his sword and seriously injured both of them. During this only one Indian officer, Sheikh Paltu came and defended the British military officers. Tried to do it and asked Pandey not to shoot, but Pandey also hit Paltu. According to Jones, Paltu said, “After this, I grabbed him by the waist.”
Jones writes, “But after this when Paltu asked Jamadar Ishwari Pandey to send four soldiers to capture Mangal Pandey, Ishwari Prasad showed the gun to Paltu and said that if Mangal does not let Pandey escape, he will shoot. Paltu said, “I let him go because he was injured”.
Then Mangal Pandey fired his last bullet
Jones writes, “After this Mangal Pandey abused his colleagues and said. “You people provoked me and now you are not with me. Jones continues, “The cavalrymen and several foot soldiers started moving towards Mangal Pandey. And seeing this, Mangal Pandey put the gunshot in his chest, pressed the trigger with his toe. The bullet started burning his jacket and clothes. And he fell on the ground injured.”
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