Today, April 8 in Indian history marks the 161st death anniversary of freedom fighter Mangal Pandey, who played a major role in inciting the Indian rebellion of 1857  (also known as “The First War of Indian Independence’’). In 1891, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, the writer of the national song of India ‘Vande Mataram’ passes away. In his lifetime, he wrote numerous stories, essays, novels and his works were translated into several languages. In 1929, in order to court arrest, two young Indian revolutionaries Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw political handouts and smoke bombs at the Delhi Central Legislative Assembly.

April 8, 1857: Death Anniversary of revolutionary freedom fighter Mangal Pandey

To ensure the freedom for the next generation, several Indian soldiers have given their lives in the name of independence. One of such freedom fighters was Mangal Pandey. Born on 19th July 1827 in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district, Mangal Pandey played a key role in events immediately preceding the outbreak of the Indian rebellion of 1857 or the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Pandey was the sepoy or sipahi in the 34th Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) regiment of the British East India Company. On March 29, 1857, Mangal Pandey attacked the British officers in North Kolkata’s Barrackpore. While the British termed him as a traitor and mutineer, Pandey is regarded as a hero in modern India. However, Mangal Pandey was detained and hanged by the Britishers on April 8, 1857. In a bid to honour his contribution towards India’s freedom struggle, the Indian government issued a postage stamp to commemorate him in 1984. Mangal Pandey’s life and actions have also been portrayed in several cinematic productions, one of which is a movie helmed by director Ketan Mehta, ‘‘Mangal Pandey: The Rising’, played by actor Aamir Khan.

April 8, 1891: 124 years ago, Vande Mataram writer Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay passes away

Considered as the pioneer of the revival of Bengali literature in the 19th century, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay gave us our national song ‘Vande Mataram’. Born on June 27, 1838, in West Bengal’s Naihati to an orthodox Bengali Brahmin family, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote the national song ‘Vande Mataram’, which was a part of his novel Anandamath (1882). Anandamath is a political novel depicting a Sanyasi army fighting the British soldiers. You’ll be surprised to know that the tune of Vande Mataram was later composed by national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’writer Rabindranath Tagore. In 1891, he passed away at the age of 55.

April 8, 1929: 89 years ago, Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt throw bombs at the Delhi Central Legislative Assembly

In order to turn the deaf, aristocrat British ears towards a youth upheaval that changed the course of India’s freedom movement, two young Indian revolutionaries Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw political handouts and smoke bombs at the Delhi Central Legislative Assembly. The sole aim behind the bombing was not to cause harm but protest against the passing of two repressive bills, the Public Safety Bill and the Trade Dispute Bill. In accordance with the plan, Singh and Dutt were successful in stopping the Assembly meet and they also surrendered themselves to the police. Bhagat Singh later got death penalty while Batukeshwar Dutt got life imprisonment. The courage of these Singh and Dutt was one of the reasons for our nation’s independence.

Other important events on April 8:

1674: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj honoured Hansaji Mohite with the degree of ‘Hambirrao’ and appointed him as the Chief General of his Army.

1887: Ramnarayan Vishwanath Pathak, famous Gujrati literature critic, poet and story writer, was born.

1919: Mahatma Gandhi arrested on way to Delhi for refusal to comply with order not to enter Punjab; escorted back to Bombay; outbreaks of violence in several towns.

1950:  Then Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and then President of Pakistan Ayub Khan signed the Indus Waters Treaty.