Shaikh Paltu

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Shaikh Paltu (Hindi: शैख़ पलटू) was a Muslim[1] soldier (sepoy) with the British East India Company, serving in the 34th Bengal Native Infantry in March 1857, shortly before widespread discontent broke out in the Bengal Army. When on March 29, Sepoy Mangal Pandey of the same regiment attacked a British officer, it was Shaikh Paltu who saved the life of the adjutant by seizing Mangal Pandey. The sepoys of the quarter guard on duty and others present refused to take any action against their comrade and remained as "idle spectators of a murderous assault".[2]

An English sergeant-major had been first to arrive at the scene but had been knocked down by the musket of a member of the quarter-guard. While other sepoys looked on, Shaikh Paltu continued to defend the two British officers, calling upon other sepoys to join him. The sepoys, with obvious sympathy for Pandey, chose to remain inactive. Some are reported to have attacked their officers with the butts of their muskets. The sepoys threw stones and shoes at Shaikh Paltu, threatening to shoot him if he did not let go of Mangal Pandey. Paltu however "continued to cling to him" until the British officers had time to rise and escape.[3]

Major-General J. Hearsey, who with other officers had ridden to the scene, took control of the situation. Pande shot and wounded himself, and the members of the quarter-guard now obeyed orders. Pande and the jemander in command of the guard were subsequently court-martialed and executed. The 34th Bengal Native Infantry was disarmed and disbanded six weeks later on May 6.[4]

Shaikh Paltu was promoted to Havaldar (native sergeant) a day after Mangal Pandey's execution and recommended by General Hearsey for a decoration.[5] However, some days before the disbandment of the 34th BNI (Bengal Native Infantry), he was lured to an isolated spot in the cantonment and murdered by several of his former comrades.[6]


  1. ^ Mason, Philip. A Matter of Honour. An Account of the Indian Army, its Officers and Men. p. 272. ISBN 0-333-41837-9. 
  2. ^ Durendra Nath Sen, page 50 Eighteen Fifty-Seven, The Publications Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, May 1957
  3. ^ Hibbert, Christopher. The Great Mutiny India 1857. p. 69. ISBN 0-14-004752-2. 
  4. ^ David, Saul. The Indian Mutiny. pp. 69–72. ISBN 0-141-00554-8. 
  5. ^ Wagner, Kim A. The Great Fear of 1857. Rumours, Conspiracies and the Making of the Indian Uprising. p. 97. ISBN 978-93-81406-34-2. 
  6. ^ Wagner, Rumours and Rebels (2010), p.97 referring to The Delhi Gazette, 9 May 1857

Suggested readings[edit]

  • Malleson, G.B., The Indian Mutiny of 1857, pp. 36–39, Delhi, Rupa & Co. publishers, 2005 (first published: 1890)

External links[edit]