In solemn remembrance - The Heroes of Indian Freedom Struggle
Shackled in the chains of colonialism for decades, when our motherland finally achieved freedom on August 15, 1947, it did taste sweet and divine.
But the path that led to this beautifully cathartic experience was not a cakewalk.
The path of freedom struggle was fraught with challenges and is still fragrant with the patriotic blood and spirit of those hundreds and thousands of men and women who sacrificed their every breath to see their nation free of British trammels.
Today as we celebrate the 67th anniversary of Independence Day, it is but natural that we remember those great souls who lived and died for their motherland, India. So, let`s all stand united and pay them a tribute of solemn remembrance, as Lata di sang,
“Jo shaheed hue hain , unki zara yaad karo kurbani”.
(Do remember the sacrifices of those, who have been martyred)
Mahatma Gandhi - a lawyer who actually became the architect of India`s freedom, an apostle of peace who forced the British out of our nation without violence, and also our bapu – the father of the nation – who became a guiding light for millions of countrymen who, mesmerised by his mystic might, followed him blindly on a path devoid of violence and bloodshed, that finally led to freedom.
Having fought against apartheid in South Africa, when Gandhiji returned to India in 1915, he ushered in a volley of movements - like the Satyagraha, the Non-cooperation Movement, Purna Swaraj, Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit India Movement – which left the British shaken. An entire nation seemed to be hypnotised by his mantra of “Do or Die” and the Mahatma spearheaded the masses on the path to freedom.
However sadly, the great soul who dedicated his entire life to see a free India, could not even live one entire year after independence as he was assassinated by Nathuram Godse on January 30, 1948.
Known for carrying out the train dacoity at Kakori, a young Ashfaq sacrificed his life with a song on his lips, for the nation`s sake.
Ashfaq was one of the young revolutionaries who laid down their life for the sake of the motherland. Dejected by Mahatma Gandhi`s withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement after the Chauri Chaura incident in 1922, Ashfaq decided to join the revolutionaries and executed the Kakori train robbery for which he was hanged by the British along with his friend Ram Prasad Bismil.
It is said that while being hanged, Ashfaq, who was also an Urdu poet, sang Vande Mataram.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Popularly called the “Lokmanya” (acceptable to people), Bal Gangadhar Tilak was one of the members of the famous trio – Lal-Bal-Pal. Opposed to the moderates, he was one of the most-eminent radicals at the time. Besides being a firebrand freedom fighter, he was a staunch nationalist, journalist, teacher, social reformer and a lawyer.
Tilak was one of the strongest voices to vouch for "Swaraj" (self-rule) and famously said, "Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it!".
Better known as Shaheed (martyr) Bhagat Singh, he was one of the youngest revolutionaries to sacrifice his life with a smile. One of the prominent symbols of the Indian freedom movement, Bhagat Singh was one of the most audacious revolutionaries, who planned to retaliate after Lala Lajpat Rai was badly injured in a lathicharge by the British.
Bhagat Singh along with Batukeshwar Dutt threw two bombs in the Central Legislative Assembly in New Delhi on April 8, 1929. He was imprisoned and hanged at the age of 23 along with Sukhdev and Rajguru on March 23, 1931.
Best described by the poem of Subhadra Kumari Chauhan (Khub ladi mardani who toh Jhansi wali rani thi), Rani Lakshmibai stood for women power and proved that Indian women are no less when it comes to protection of one`s motherland.
One of the first firebrand leaders of India`s first struggle for independence, Rani Lakshmibai symbolises patriotism, gallantry and honour.
Brought up in a unique way, Rani was adept in horse riding and wielding swords and other weapons.
When her husband and the king of Jhansi, Maharaja Gangadhar Rao died, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India at that time, planned to annex Jhansi on grounds that it did not have any legal heir as rani had an adopted son only.
But Rani Lakshmibai famously said, “Mai apni Jhansi nahi doongi” (I will not give my Jhansi). And she valiantly fought the British till her last breath. Legendarily, she is known for having fought the British troops, with her both hands wielding swords and her adopted son tied at the back.
Shaheed Mangal Pandey was one of the first freedom fighters of India, whose attack on a British sergeant and adjutant, paved way for the outbreak of what came to be known as India`s First War of Independence or Indian Mutiny of 1857.
Employed as a sepoy of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry regiment of the British East India Company, Mangal Pandey started revolting against the British when he came to know about a new type of bullet cartridge used in the Army, which was greased with the fat of pigs and cows. The cartridges had to be bitten at one end before use and hence both Hindus and Muslims were opposed to this.
The Indian soldiers took offense to the greasing of the cartridges with animal fat and considered this as a deliberate act by the British to violate their religions. And this triggered a mass revolt of Indian soldiers in the British Army which came to be known as the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
On April 8, 1857, Mangal Pandey was sentenced to death in Barrackpore.
Azad was an electric personality, who galvanised the freedom struggle with his heroic sacrifice. A revolutionary freedom fighter, Azad is better known for saying that he will not receive death at the hands of British. So, at last when cornered by the British, he took his own life by firing a bullet into his head.
Also, in 1921, when he was sentenced to fifteen lashes, he bravely chanted `Bharat Mata Ki Jai` as each whip struck its blow.
One of India`s finest statesmen, Jawaharlal Nehru who guided India for nearly two decades after independence, also contributed enormously towards the achievement of freedom.
Born to Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal was an early Congressman who was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and started working under his aegis for India`s freedom. He hailed from a well-to-do family but his devotion towards national freedom struggle made him shun the luxuries of home and landed him in jail.
Nehru, who is better known as the architect of modern India, went on to become India`s first Prime Minister. His wisdom, vision and excellence as a political leader remains unparalleled yet.
9. Gopal Krishna Gokhale
One of the towering leaders of the Indian National Congress, Gopal Krishna Gokhale served as Mahatma Gandhi`s political guru.
Gokhale left his profession as a history professor to enter India`s freedom struggle and as a moderate leader of the Indian National Congress, he vouched for moderate and lawful methods of agitation and gradual reform. Additionally, he also served as a great social reformer, working for the cause of the poor and the underprivileged.
Gokhale`s thoughts and deeds have inspired generations of Indians and his contribution towards independence will seldom go unremembered.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose
“Give me blood and I will give you freedom” – this adage coined by the heroic revolutionary Subhash Chandra Bose, went on to become an iconic mantra and swayed a huge mass of Indian freedom fighters, who inspired by him, joined his Army to rise against the autocratic British rule.
Bose, a brilliant student since beginning, had qualified for civil services examination and was undergoing training when he decided to leave his career midway for the sake of nation`s freedom. He started by joining Mahatma Gandhi`s Non-Cooperation Movement but later he was dejected by Gandhiji`s non-violent approach and left Congress. Bose was of view that a non-violent struggle would never lead India to freedom and that only a strong violent resistance would force the British out of India. He also landed in jail a number of times for his secret revolutionary activities.
In 1939, when the World War II began, Subhash Chandra Bose reached out to Germany, Italy, and Japan - the enemy of the English in the war.
It is said that he also met Mussolini and Hitler. The Japanese assisted Subhash Chandra Bose a lot and with their fiscal, political and military aid, he formed the Azad Hind Fauz - the Indian National Army (INA) which had some 30,000 Indian soldiers.
It is said that Netaji lost his life in a plane crash when his plane was flying from Singapore to Bangkok. But his death is still shrouded in mystery as there are conflicting reports which say that Netaji survived the crash and went into hiding as the plane had made a stopover in Taipei.