Many great men and women alike have disappeared into the massive labyrinth of history. I can definitely say the same about many of are freedom fighters who remain unnoticed till date (and God knows how many more). These people will always remain the true offsprings of an India that was burning with the desire of freedom. It is sad that many of them died without witnessing the India they had freed and no one makes an effort to give them the recognition they deserve. As citizens of India, it is our duty to acknowledge these individuals whose efforts gave rise to a free India. With Independence Day fast approaching, let me tell you about some of these brave people…
1. Surya Sen
Popularly known as ‘Master Da’, Surya Sen, was an influential Bengali revolutionary who is best known for initiating the 1930 Chittagong raid. He was the leader of the Chittagong group that fought the British stationed there. The group comprised of many passionate young revolutionaries namely: Ambika Chakraboraty, Anant Singh, Ganesh Ghosh, Lokenath Baul and many others. They were responsible for seizing the arms from the Chittagong armoury followed by the destruction of the city’s communication system. Sen was forced to go into hiding after the group was cornered in the Jalalabad hills by the British troops. Unfortunately, he was betrayed and sentenced to death.
2. Pritilata Waddedar
Pritilata and her classmate Kalpana Dutta were later additions to Surya Sen’s Chittagong group.
She launched an attack on the Pahartali European Club. She swallowed potassium cyanide in order to escape arrest, thus becoming a prominent female martyr for the cause.
3. Bina Das
This terrific lady is best remembered for her assassination attempt on Stanley Jackson, the Governor of Bengal. However, she missed her mark and bravely endured nine years imprisonment. Her participation in the Quit India Movement again led to her arrest. The Padma Shri was awarded to her in 1960.
4. Khudiram Bose
Bose was hardly 18 when he was led to the gallows. He was patriotic from his childhood days and joined the Anushilan Samiti when he was 15 years old. He was tried for the failed assassination of Magistrate Douglas Kingsford.
5. Bagha Jatin
This man who was as ferocious as the title he had earned. He headed the Jugantar Party and planned to attack the British while they were busy during the first world war. He also tried to harness the support of Germany in his plan. Somehow, this ploy collapsed and he had to face the British in Kaptipada. This is what Tegart, a top British cop wrote about him: “Bagha Jatin, the Bengali revolutionary, is one of the most selfless political workers in India. His driving power (…) immense: if an army could be raised or arms could reach an Indian port, the British would lose the war.”
6. Velu Nachiyar
She is an embodiment of unmatched valour who fended off the British by defeating them in 1780. She successfully regained her kingdom and ruled it for 10 years. She was succeeded by her daughter Vellaci.
7. Begum Hazrat Mahal
The male-dominated society didn’t stop her from confronting the British. She encouraged women to participate in the war after her husband, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was exiled. She actively opposed Lord Dalhousie’s Doctrine of Lapse and continued with her dauntless war efforts. She later escaped to Kathamandu when Lucknow was seized by the British.
8. Tirupar Kumaran
This daunting freedom fighter led a protest March in 1932 against the British. No assault by the police could stop him from holding the National flag high even in his dying moments. He subsequently earned the name Kodi Kaatha Kumaran — “Kumaran, the saviour of the national flag.”
9. Peer Ali Khan
Who would have imagined a mere bookseller could revolt and rebel? Well, that man was Peer Ali. He would frequently plot against the British at his bookstore. He was busy doing this with the soldiers of the Danapur Cantonment, when the British got wind of his activities and hanged him.
10. Matangini Hazra
Hazra became a champion freedom fighter when she decided to participate in the Dandi March led by Mahatma Gandhi. She bravely faced a gunshot when while leading 6,000 volunteers who were a part of the Quit India Movement.
11. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay
A fiery social activist, she revived several traditional vocations. She later joined the Seva Dal, a Gandhian organisation that worked towards social upliftment. She became the first woman who was arrested for selling salt packets thereby protesting against the salt monopolization.
12. Veerapandya Kottabomman
Kottabomman’s refusal to pay tribute was met with a bloody confrontation against the British. He was eventually captured by them who sought the help of the ruler of Pudukottai, and was hanged on 16 October 1799.
13. Tirot Sing
This Khasi cheiftain resorted to guerilla warfare tactics for four years to ward off the British. The latter found him in a cave and deported him to Dhaka in the year 1833.
14. Bhikaji Cama
Bhikaji Cama was supported the birth of the Indian Home Rule Society in February 1905. She actively propagated the cause of Indian Independence and attended the second Socialist Congress at Stuttgart, Germany. During the congregation, she appealed for autonomy from Great Britain and unfurled the “Flag of Indian Independence”.
15. Chapekar Brothers
The Chapekar brothers comprising of Damodar Hari Chapekar, Balkrishna Hari Chapekar and Vasudeo Hari Chapekar were revolutionaries who assassinated W.C Rand, the British plague Commissioner of Pune. They were awarded with the death sentence for rising against the meaningless, oppressive measures undertaken by the British during the Plague epidemic.