Table of Contents
Context: The central government through its ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ initiative has endeavored to honour the unsung heroes, icons and events which have huge significance in the freedom struggle yet are not well known by masses.
Some Lesser Known Events in the Indian Freedom Struggle
- The 1857 rebellion is considered the First War of Independence. However recently Paika Rebellion of 1817 contested for this title. Furthermore, there were many other spirited revolts against the British Empire in South India prior to this, such as the Attingal revolt, the Poligar rebellion and the Vellore Mutiny.
- March 23 is often remembered as Martyrs’ Day, to commemorate the sacrifice of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. But March 23, 1919, is also important as the Non Cooperation Movement took shape on this day. Mahatma Gandhi was in Chennai and from here decided to counter the draconian Rowlatt Act through mass hartal.
- Gandhiji supported the British in the Boer war for which he was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind medal, in 1915, by the British. He later returned the award in 1920
- In 1942, C. Rajagopalachari stayed away from the Quit India Movement as he felt it would not serve India’s best interests.
- Role of North East India: There were many nationalist who fought against the British from the North East. Rani Gaidinliu, a Naga spiritual leader, raised the banner of revolt against foreign rule.
- Similarly, Kanaklata Baruah, Moje Riba, Shoorvir Pasaltha Khuangchera are among lesser known nationalists.
Indian Freedom Struggle: The event that brought together people from conflicting backgrounds and ideologies
- Moderates and Extremists: Moderates trusted constitutional methods and extremists preferred boycott and revolution.
- They both had crucial roles in the freedom struggle. Lal-Pal-Bal and Aurobindo underwent rigorous imprisonment, while Bhagat Singh, Birsa Munda and Vanchinathan sacrificed their lives.
- Serving in the administration: Gopal Krishna Gokhale and B.R Ambedkar served in the British Viceroy’s executive council and were probably never imprisoned. But this does not dilute their patriotism and contributions to India’s freedom.
- Armed struggle: Subhas Chandra Bose valiantly raised an army overseas to free India, a venture where he worked with Japan, an Axis power.
- Overseas freedom fighters: Bhikaiji Cama, Shyamji Krishna Varma, Chempakaraman Pillai and Thillaiyadi Valliammai championed the cause of India’s liberty from abroad.
Holistic View of History
- Central role: Congress party may have played a pre-eminent, but this struggle spanned over two centuries and involved several parties, ideologies and people.
- Role of women: Women freedom fighters like Sarojini Naidu, Annie Besant, Rani Chaudhrani, Aruna Asaf Ali, Usha Mehta etc. were significant part of various movements of India like Non Cooperation Movement, Civil Disobedience movement, Quit India Movement etc.
- Selfless freedom fighters did not participate in the freedom struggle for position or power but with the sole aim of liberating their motherland. Hence no freedom fighter should be impugned.
- Fundamental duties in our constitution calls “To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom”.
- There should be unreserved gratitude to all, especially the unsung luminaries of our freedom struggle who were devoted to the national cause transcending any ideological inclination.