Political leaders cutting across party lines paid homage to Mangal Pandey, India’s first freedom fighter, on Thursday, 19 July, on the occasion of his 191st birth anniversary.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar were among those who paid tributes on Twitter to the Bengal Army sepoy whose revolt against the East India Company triggered the first war of India’s independence.

“Homage to martyr Mangal Pandey on his birth anniversary,” wrote Banerjee, who is also the Trinamool Congress chief.

 

“Tributes to India’s first freedom fighter and brave son of Ma Bharati on his birth anniversary,” wrote Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

 

“My Salutations to a great freedom fighter and a revolutionary #MangalPandey , who played a key role during 1857 freedom struggle, on His Birth Anniversary !” wrote Fadnavis.

 

“Remembering the brave Indian freedom fighter #MangalPandey ji on his Jayanti. His sacrifice was significant in awakening the nation against colonial rule. His intrepidity and valour will continue to inspire the future generations,” said Khattar.

The Haryana CM’s tweet also carried a quote attributed to Pandey in which the freedom fighter says that when one defends the nation, he automatically defends religion.

 

In his tweet, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said Indians drew inspiration from Pandey’s rebellion and fought against the oppression of the British rule.

“Pay my tributes to the great Indian patriot Mangal Pandey, on his birth anniversary today. His rebellion inspired many Indians to raise their voice against the oppression of British rule in India. His valor & commitment for the nation will be remembered for ever. #FreedomFighter,” wrote Naidu.

 

Born in 1827 in Nagwa, a village in Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh, Pandey became the hero of all Indians when in 1857 he led sepoys station at Barrackpore in Bengal (now West Bengal) to fight the British.

The reason behind the soldiers’ resentment was the East India Company’s decision to introduce cartridges laced with animal fat, primarily from cows and pigs. The bullets were to be bitten at one end before use.

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Both Hindu and Muslim soldiers of the Company stationed at Barrackpore refused to use the bullet because of religious reasons – while the cow is sacred to Hindus, Muslims are barred from consuming pork.

Pandey’s revolt and his subsequent hanging on 8 April 1857 led to the outbreak of India’s first war of independence.