Freedom Fighters of India
Indian independence is the result of the sacrifices of many freedom fighters. These freedom fighters were not born in same place nor they speak same language, most of them even may not know each other. But their heart and vision was united, which was to flew Britain away and make India an Independent nation. We are completely aware of the contributions of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in Indian independence. From young ages, we used to hear the brave stories of them. But do you know about the Nightingale of the country? Do you know about the freedom fighter for whose head the British put Rs.30,000 in the 1930s? The fighter who was hit with a bullet, yet stayed quiet to save the country? Do you know about the revolutionary who bombed the British Assembly?
Let’s look to some of the courageous and revolutionary freedom fighters :
The Rani of Jhansi-Lakshmi Bhai
- After the death of Gangadhar Rao, King of Jhansi ( to whom, Laxmi Bahi was married in the age of 7) rani was coronated as the queen of Jhansi.
- The Britishers took advantage of the lack of experience of the queen and demanded the control of her kingdom. But they were wrong! Rani was strong and determined for her kingdom.
- Since there was no biological male heir, the kingdom was annexed to British Raj by Governor-General of India under Doctrine of Lapse.
- Rani adopted a son, but Lord Dalhousie did not consider Damodar Rao as a biological heir and sent the message of merging Jhansi into British.
But Rani, was courageous and was not ready to surrender her land to the invaders
- She formed an army, including both women and men and trained them in Military techniques.
- The incident of Britishers looting common people, killing women and children in Jhansi, strengthen her decision to fight against Britishers.
Along with her army, she fought against the Britishers for almost two weeks. She carried her adopted son Damodar Rao on her back and took a sword in each hand, and killed many British soldiers. Her attack have made the British Army to set back from the fight.
- But later in 18th June 1958, the British attacked the Gwalior and entered into Jhansi.
- Rani decided to break the military front and while she was trying to break it she came across a garden.
- Since she was riding a new horse, she felt difficult to control it.
- Ultimately she fell and got injured. Since Rani was in male warrior costume, the Britishers didn’t recognize her and they left her.
- Rani’s servant helped her up and gave her ‘gangajal’, which is considered a holy water.
- Her last wish was that she should not be touched a Britisher, and hence was burn by a hermit.
The Nightingale of India~ Sarojini Naidu
A women who stood for Female Rights- A true inspiration for promoting Feminism in India
“As long as I have life, as long as blood flows through this arm of mine, I shall not leave the cause of freedom…I am only a woman, only a poet. But as a woman, I give to you the weapons of faith and courage and the shield of fortitude. And as a poet, I fling out the banner of song and sound, the bugle call to battle. How shall I kindle the flame which shall waken you men from slavery”
- She started her career in literature at the age of 12 by writing a play named Maher Muneer. The play received wide recognition and praises.
- She received a scholarship at the age of 16 from the Nizam of Hyderabad and went to London King’s College. There, Nobel Laureates Arthur Simon and Edmond Gausse advised her to focus on Indian themes for writing.
- She became an incredible poet of the 20th century by expressing her feelings, emotions and her experiences through poems.
- During her college days, she falls in love with a non-Brahmin physicist named Padipati Govindarajulu Naidu. She married him at the age of 19.
Her fight for freedom began when the viceroy of India, Partitioned Bengal.
- She met Gopal Krishna Gokhale through whom she came into contact with several prominent faces of India’s freedom struggle including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore and Annie Besant.
- She was urged by Gokhale to use her intellect for the cause and she dedicated herself to politics and Indian freedom movement, taking a respite from writing.
- Between 1915 and 1918, Naidu travelled to different regions in India delivering lectures on social welfare, the emancipation of women and Nationalism and established Women’s Indian Association in 1917.
- In 1916 she fought against the Brtish for the rights of farmers in Champaran, Bihar who were forced by the Britishers to grow Indigo instead for the food crops they used to grow for their survival.
- Naidu was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Medal by the British government for her work during the plague epidemic in India, which she later returned in protest over the April 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
- Naidu again went to London in 1919 as a part of the All India Home Rule League as a part of her continued efforts to advocate for freedom from the British rule. Upon return to India in 1920, she joined Gandhi’s Satyagraha Movement.
Sarojini Naidu presided in the annual session of Indian National Congress (INC) in 1925, and also became the president of the INC.
Naidu said in her address, “In the battle for liberty, fear is one unforgivable treachery and despair, the one unforgivable sin”.
- Sarojini Naidu participated in the Salt Satyagraha with many other women protesters at Dharsana Salt Works in Gujarat.
- Naidu was arrested, along with other Congress leaders including Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Madan Mohan Malaviya for participating in 1930 Salt March.
- Naidu was one of the major figures to have led the Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit India Movement led by Gandhi. She faced repeated arrests by the British authorities during the time and even spent over 21 months in jail.
Sarojini Naidu was the first female governor of India – she served as the Governor of United Provinces in Agra and Oudh from 1947 to 1949.
- She died on 2 March 1949 due to cardiac arrest at the Government House in Lucknow. She had been the strongest advocate of the Father of the Nation “Gandhiji” and had supported him in every ideology to make India free form the British rule. She was nicknamed as Mahatma Gandhi’s “Mickey Mouse”.
“यह आज़ादी की लड़ाई है …ग़ुज़रे हुए कल से आज़ादी … आने वाले कल के लिए”
- An Indian Soldier, who plays a predominant role in the events preceding the rebellion of 1857.
- Born in 19th July 1857 to a Brahmin Family, Pandey joined in the Bengal Army in 1849. (5th Company of the 34th Native Infantry)
- The East India Company introduced reforms that were completely unfair and unjust. They made the use of bullet cartridge which were used in P-53, Enfield rifle for all soldiers.
- These cartridges were coated with a grease membrane that have to cut by teeth before loading. Since this membrane was extracted from the fat of either cow or pig, which was offensive for both Hindus and Muslims. The Indian troops in some regiments were of the opinion that this was an intentional act of the British, with the aim of defiling their religions.
- When all other attempts and uproar failed to change this phenomenon, on March 29, 1857, Mangal Pandey launched an open mutiny at Barrackpore in Kolkata. He rebelled and killed many British officers for their cruel and inhuman nature towards his countrymen.
- He along with his men attacked the sergeant Major Hudson which lead to a tough situation of battle on the army ground.
- Mangal Pandey was surrounded by the British soldiers, but he collapsed after firing a bullet on his own chest.
- It is said that even when there was a bullet in his chest, he kept quiet and have not revealed the names of his fellow co-conspirators.
- He was hanged on 29th March 1857.
- To commemorate the brave soldier, the Indian government issued a postage stamp with his image in 1984.
- A movie on the life and journey of Mangal Pandey was released in 2005, where Aamir Khan played the titular role.
Bhagat Singh~The Indian Revolutionary
Bhagat Singh is one of the most famous revelationary in Indian Freedom Struggle and is known as Shaheed Bhagat Singh (Shaheed means martyr). He gave a new direction to the revolutionary movement and a goal beyond the elimination of the British. A clarity of vision and determination of purpose distinguished Bhagat Singh from other leaders of his time.
- Born on 28 September 1907, in Lyallpur district of Panjab Province of British India (Now Pakistan). His family was actively involved in the freedom struggle.
- He studied European revolutionary movement and was widely attracted to the socialism.
He realised that the overthrow of British rule should be accompanied by the socialist reconstruction of Indian society and for this political power must be seized by the workers.
- The incident of the Jalianwala Bagh massacre in 1919 increased his hatred towards the British Rule. He was 12 years old then.
He even collected the blood mixed soil and kept it as a memento that would serve as a motivation for him for his entire lifetime.
- In 1923, Bhagat Singh won an essay competition set by the Punjab Hindi Sahitya Sammelan. This got the attention of the members of the organization including Prof. Bhim Sen Vidyalankar, its General Secretary. He read a lot of poetry and literature written by Punjabi writers and Allama Iqbal was his favourite poet.
- Inspiring from the call of Mahatma Gandhi to participate in Non-cooperation movement, Bhagat Singh left the school and joined the movement in 1921.
- However, in 1922, when Gandhiji suspended the Non-cooperation movement against violence at Chauri Chaura in Gorakhpur, Bhagat Singh was greatly disillusioned. His faith in non-violence weakened and he came to the conclusion that armed revolution was the only practical way of winning freedom.
- Bhagat Singh joined in the Hindustan Republican Association at Kanpur. After the arrest of the leading figures of the association, he along with the youths formed Hindusthan Socialist Republican Association.
- He circulated newspapers and notices in different languages to make people more aware about his motives.
- In 1928 he attended a meeting of the revolutionaries in Delhi and came into contact with Chandrasekhar Azad. They formed Hindustan Samajvadi Prajatantra Sangha with the objective of establishing a republic in India by means of an armed revolution.
- In 1928, the British government set up the Simon Commission to report on the political situation in India. Some Indian political parties boycotted the Commission because there were no Indians in its membership, and there were protests across the country. When the Commission visited Lahore on 30 October 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai led a march in protest against it. Police attempt to disperse the large crowd resulted in violence. The superintendent of police, James A. Scott, ordered the police to lathi charge (use batons against) the protesters and personally assaulted Rai, who was injured. Rai died of a heart attack on 17 November 1928. Doctors thought that his death might have been hastened by the injuries he had received. When the matter was raised in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the British Government denied any role in Rai’s death.
Shaheed Bhagat Singh respected and idolized Lala Lajpat Rai. So when Lala Lajpat Rai succumbed to injuries by the infamous lathi-charge led by superintendent of police, James A. Scott while protesting against the Simon Commission, Bhagat Singh decided to take revenge and kill Scott. He ended up killing John P. Saunders, an Assistant Superintendent of Police.
- Influenced by Auguste Vaillant, a French anarchist who had bombed the Chamber of Deputies in Paris, Singh’s plan was to explode a bomb inside the Central Legislative Assembly. The nominal intention was to protest against the Public Safety Bill, and the Trade Dispute Act, which had been rejected by the Assembly but were being enacted by the Viceroy using his special powers; the actual intention was for the perpetrators to allow themselves to be arrested so that they could use court appearances as a stage to publicise their cause.
- On 8 April 1929, Singh, accompanied by Batukeshwar Dutt, threw two bombs into the Assembly chamber from its public gallery while it was in session. The bombs had been designed not to kill, but some members, including George Ernest Schuster, the finance member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, were injured. The smoke from the bombs filled the Assembly so that Singh and Dutt could probably have escaped in the confusion had they wished. Instead, they stayed shouting the slogan “Inquilab Zindabad!” (“Long Live the Revolution”) and threw leaflets. The two men were arrested and subsequently moved through a series of jails in Delhi.
On October 7, 1930, Bhagat Singh, Sukh Dev and Raj Guru were awarded death sentence by a special tribunal. Bhagat Singh wrote a letter to Viceroy Lord Irwin when he was in prison asking him to execute them not by hanging but by firing squad. But his plea was rejected and he was hanged on March 23, 1931, when he was only 24 years old.
Bhagat Singh’s contribution to the nation is highly remembered. He wanted his death to be the inspiration of thousands of youth at that time and for the generation to come.
Chandra Shekhar Azad
- A courageous freedom fighter and a fearless revolutionary, born on 23 July 1906 in Bhavra, Madya Pradesh.
His famous proclamation, ‘Dushmano Ki Goliyon Ka Saamna Hum Karenge, /Azad Hi Rahe Hain, aur Azad hi Rahenge’, which translates into ‘I will face the bullets of the enemies, I have been free and I’ll forever be free’, is exemplary of his brand of revolution. He embraced martyrdom like an old friend and inspired a fierce sense of nationalism in the hearts of his contemporaries.
- In December 1921, when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi launched the Non-Cooperation Movement, Chandra Shekhar, then a 15-year-old student, joined. As a result, he was arrested. On being presented before a magistrate, he gave his name as “Azad” (The Free), his father’s name as “Swatantrata” (Independence) and his residence as “Jail”. From that day he came to be known as Chandra Shekhar Azad among the people.
- Azad become more aggressive after the suspension of Non-Coperation movement. He met a young revolutionary, Manmath Nath Gupta, who introduced him to Ram Prasad Bismil who had formed the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), a revolutionary organisation.
- He becomes an active member in Hindusthan Revolutionary Association (HRA) and started to collect fund for HRA. Most of his fund collection was through robberies, of government property. He was involved in the Kakori Train Robbery of 1925, in the attempt to blow up the Viceroy of India’s train in 1926, and at last, the shooting of J. P. Saunders at Lahore in 1928 to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpat Rai.
- He along with other revolutionaries formed ‘The Hindustan Socialist Republican Association’. He was a mentor to many revolutionaries including Bhagat Singh. He wanted complete independence for India by any means.
- On October 30, 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai led a peaceful protest against the Simon Commission at Lahore. Police Superintendent James Scott ordered lathi strike to thwart the advancement of the march.
- Lalaji was deeply wounded in this incident and died on 17th November 1928. Together with Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru, he plotted the assassination of Scott. On December 17, 1928, the plan was executed but a case of mistaken identity led to the killing of John P. Saunders, an Assistant Superintendent of Police.
- Azad along with 29 others were charged in the Lahore Conspiracy Case Trial, but he was among the few who the British authorities were unable to capture.
- The British so furious and even announced Ruppese 30,000 for the head of Azad. The huge amount of money led to vital information on the whereabouts of Azad. On February 27, 1931, Chandrashekhar Azad was meeting with friends at Alfred Park, Allahabad. A pre-informed police surrounded the park and asked Chandrashekhar Azad to surrender.
- Azad in the fight killed three policemen and helped his friends to escape safely.
- After having no ammunition and foreseeing no means to escape, Azad shot himself in the head with the last bullet. He upheld his vow, never to get killed in the hands of British.
- After independence, to commemorate the bravery of Chandrashekhar Azad, Alfred Park in Allahabad was renamed Chandrashekhar Azad Park.
Multiple patriotic films have depicted Azad’s character. In the 2002 Ajay Devgan starrer biopic of Bhagat Singh, Azad’s character was portrayed by Akhilendra Mishra. The patriotism of Azad, Rajguru, Pandit Ram Prasad Basil and Ashfaqula Khan was depicted in Rang De Basanti, a 2006 Bollywood film where Amir Khan portrayed the character of Chandra Shekhar Azad.
Dr. B R Ambedkar~ The Father of Indian Constitution
- Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956) was born into a Mahar (‘Untouchable’/ Dalit) family. His father served in the British Indian Army at the Mhow cantonment in the Central Provinces (now in Madhya Pradesh).
- During his school days, being Dalit, he was not allowed to sit inside the class. The teachers refused to touch the notebooks of him and his friends. Even they faced difficulty while drinking water as the peon who is in upper-caste pour the water to them from a height. Even Bhim and his friends have to spend the whole day without water when the peon was absent.
- Bhim was very much interested in learning and his interest has made him the first Dalit to get enrolled in prestigious Elphinstone High School in Bombay.
- He later won the Baroda State Scholarship for three years and finished his postgraduate education from Columbia University in New York. He passed his M.A. exam in June 1915 and continued his research.
- He put forward a thesis on the topic “Caste in India” at Columbia University.
“The caste problem is a vast one, both theoretically and practically. Practically, it is an institution that portends tremendous consequences. It is a local problem, but one capable of much wider mischief, for as long as caste in India does exist, Hindus will hardly intermarry or have any social intercourse with outsiders; and if Hindus migrate to other regions on earth, Indian caste would become a world problem.”
- After completing three important theses that dealt with Indian society, economics, and history, Dr Ambedkar enrolled at the London School of Economics where he started working on a doctoral thesis. He stayed in London for the next four years and finished two doctorates. He was conferred with two more honorary doctorate degrees much later in the fifties.
- Returning to Indian in 1924 he started to initiate an active movement against untouchability in India. In 1924, he founded the Bahishkrut Hitkaraini Sabha, aimed at uprooting caste system in India. The organisation ran free schools and libraries for all age groups. Dr Ambedkar took the grievances of the Dalits to court, and brought them justice.
- He also organise march demanding Dalit’s right on drinking water from public well and granting entries for them in temples. Despite getting several attacks and threats from the Hindu upper-caste men, Ambedkar marched to public wells and reservoirs to drink water from it.
- In the conference held in 1927, Ambedkar criticized Manusmriti for justifying caste system and untouchability. On December 25, 1927, Dr Ambedkar led thousands of Dalits and burnt copies of the text.
- In 1937, when the British government agreed to hold elections on the provincial level, Dr Ambedkar’s Independent Labor Party won in the Bombay province with a thumping majority. Dr Ambedkar led many social, labour, and agricultural reforms in the region in the years that followed.
- Post-independence, Dr Ambedkar was invited by Congress to serve as the nation’s first Law Minister, which he accepted. He was soon appointed the Chairman of the Drafting Committee formed to write India’s new Constitution. Article 11 of the Constitution abolished untouchability in every form. Granville Austin in his famous book The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation (1964) described the Constitution of India as one of the most progressive and revolutionary political documents of its time.Read more at: https://yourstory.com/2016/04/bhimrao-ambedkar
Subhas Chandra Bose- The leftist Congressman
- Subhas Chandra Bose was born on 23 January 1897 (at 12.10 pm) in Cuttack, Orissa Division, Bengal Province, to Prabhavati Dutt Bose and Janakinath Bose, an advocate belonging to a Kayastha family. He was the ninth in a family of 14 children. His family was well to do.
- He was influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna after reading their works at the age of 16. He felt that his religion was more important than his studies.
- In those days, the British in Calcutta often made offensive remarks to the Indians in public places and insulted them openly. This behaviour of the British as well as the outbreak of World War I began to influence his thinking.
- He got fourth in the Indian Civil Services examination, but resigned from ICS in 1921 as he don’t want to work for the opponents of Indians.
Writing to his brother Sarat Chandra Bose He said: ” Only on the soil of sacrifice and suffering can we raise our national edifice.”
- He started the newspaper Swaraj and took charge of publicity for the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee.
- He became the president of all India Youth Congress and also the secretary of Bengal State Congress.
- In 1927, after being released from prison, Bose became general secretary of the Congress party and worked with Jawaharlal Nehru for independence. In late December 1928, Bose organised the Annual Meeting of the Indian National Congress in Calcutta. His most memorable role was as General Officer Commanding (GOC) Congress Volunteer Corps.
- Bose emerged as the mayor of Calcutta in 1930.
- He also researched and wrote the first part of his book The Indian Struggle, which covered the country’s independence movement in the years 1920–1934. Although it was published in London in 1935, the British government banned the book in the colony out of fears that it would encourage unrest.
- By 1938 Bose had become a leader of national stature and agreed to accept nomination as Congress President.
- He stood for unqualified Swaraj (self-governance), including the use of force against the British. This meant a confrontation with Mohandas Gandhi, who in fact opposed Bose’s presidency, splitting the Indian National Congress party.
All India Forward Bloc was a left-wing nationalist political party in India which emerged as a faction within the India Congress in 1939, led by Subhas Chandra Bose. He was well known for his leftist views in the Congress. The prime objective of the Froward Bloc was to bring all radical elements of the Congress party. So that he could spread the meaning of complete independence of India with adherence of the application of principles of equality and social justice
An important development in the struggle for freedom during the Second World War was the formation and activities of the Azad Hind Fauj, also known as the Indian National Army, or INA. Rash Behari Bose, an Indian revolutionary who had escaped from India and had been living in Japan for many years, set up the Indian independence league with the support of Indians living in the countries of south-east Asia.
When Japan defeated the British armies and occupied almost all the countries of south-East Asia, the league formed the Indian National Army from among the Indian prisoners of war with the aim of liberating India from the British rule. General Mohan Singh, who had been an officer in the British Indian army, played an important role in organizing this army.
In the meantime, Subhas Chandra Bose had escaped from India in 1941 and gone to Germany to work for India’s Independence. In 1943, he came to Singapore to lead the Indian Independence league and rebuild the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) to make it an effective instrument for the freedom of India. The Azad Hind Fauj comprised of about 45,000 soldiers, among who were Indian prisoners of war as well as Indians who were settled in various countries of south-east Asia.
Indian women also played an important role in the activities for the freedom of India. A women’s regiment of Azad Hind Fauj was formed, which was under the command of Captain Lakshmi Swaminathan. It was called the Rani Jhansi regiment. The Azad Hind Fauj became the symbol of unity and heroism to the people of India. Netaji, who had been one of the greatest leaders of India’s struggle for freedom, was reported killed in an air crash a few days after Japan had surrendered.