The lesser remembered faces of India’s Independence

It is universally known that people never understand the true value of something until it is lost. Same has been the case with India's independence. Thousands of people, both men and women, sacrificed their lives for the sake of getting freedom from British rule, all because they had a dream. A dream to see their country as free. Many articles have been published and written about the Indian struggle for independence, but few remember all the freedom fighters who played pivotal roles in securing this hard-earned independence. 

Ordinary men and women, with very little formal education, from smaller households, led the movement, either by staying in the shadows of more prominent nationalist or at the forefront too. Their passion and spirit to get away from the clutches of the British is worth mentioning, for it is because of their dedication that we can enjoy the freedom to tweet about the government and not get arrested.

The beginning of India's struggle for freedom is a motivating guide, one we’ve all heard multiple times. The freedom movement is synonymous with the many famous and lesser-known freedom fighters who were revolutionary in their approaches towards contending for independence. We all know how Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose and more paved the way to freedom for us. However, among these known fighters are many more unsung heroes we perhaps haven’t even heard of. Here is an insight into the lives of a few of those great personalities.

Surendranath Banerjee

Surendranath Banerjee was born on 10 November 1848 in the capital of British India in Calcutta. The founder of the coveted Indian National Association, Surendranath Banerjee later became one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress (INC), which is still in existence today. He had a crucial role in organizing some of the initial sessions of INC in 1883 and 1885. He was also one of the few Indians who cleared the ICS exam twice in 1869 and 1871. Due to his deep knowledge, he was able to instil a sense of nationalism in the young Indians of that time. He was famously called "Surrender Not Banerjee," due to his role in the freedom movement of India.

Matangini Hazra

An Indian revolutionary also known as ‘Gandhi buri’ (bengali for old lady Gandhi), Hazra played a very much vital role in the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1920 and the Quit India Movement in 1942. During one of the processions, she continued to advance with the Indian flag in her hand even after being shot thrice by the Britishers. It is said that she kept on shouting "Vande Mataram." till her last breath. After independence, she became the first woman, whose statue was erected in Kolkata. There are also many roads and monuments named after her, to honour her struggle in the Indian freedom movement.

Pandurang Mahadev Bapat

Popularly known as ‘Senapati Bapat’, Pandurang Mahadev Bapat was the leader of the Mulshi Satyagraha. It was due to his leadership there that he got the title of Senapati. He was the chosen one, who had the honor of hoisting the Indian flag in Pune for the very first time after India's independence in 1947. During his stay in Britain, he was associated with India House and he spent a majority of his time learning bomb-making skills instead of pursuing his official studies. He had been jailed by the British for speaking in public against their rule as well as for vandalism of property, after which he surrendered himself to the Britishers because as a satyagrahi, he was not supposed to pursue the path of violence.

Potti Sreeramulu

Potti Sreeramulu was an avid supporter and a severe devotee of Mahatma Gandhi. It was after the earl death of his wife that he became interested in dedicating his life towards achieving independence. After seeing his dedication towards humanitarian purposes, fasting, and towards the nation, Gandhiji once stated: "If only I have eleven more followers like Sriramulu, I will win freedom in a year." He devoted his whole life to the service of India and its independence.

Bhikaji Cama

There are numerous roads and structures in India named after her, but only few know much about who this lady was and what she managed to achieve. Not only did Bhikaji Cama play a big part in the more significant Indian Independence Movement, but she was also a famous figure for gender equality in those times. She donated most of her personal wealth to an orphanage for girls. She also unfurled the Indian flag at the International Socialist Conference at Stuttgart in Germany, 1907.

Tara Rani Srivastava

Tara Rani Srivastava led a freedom movement procession in front of the Siwan Police Station along with her husband. Though her husband was severely injured after being shot, this brave lady bandaged his wounds and kept on moving forward. By the time she returned from the freedom procession, her husband had passed away. Still, her will and determination to go on satyagraha did not break, and she continued to fight to hold the indian flag high.

Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi

Commonly known as Kulpati, Munshi Jiwas was very active during India's freedom movement- especially during the Quit India Movement. He was also the founder of the coveted Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, now a leading source of education.
When the demand for a separate state of Pakistan gathered some momentum, he gave up the idea of non-violence and instead supported the idea of a civil war to compel the Muslims to give up their demand for partition. The number of times the British regime arrested him clearly showed his true dedication and passion for a truly independent India. 

Peer Ali Khan

Peer Ali Khan was one of the great initial rebels of India. Khan was also a part of the 1857 freedom struggle and among the very few people who were punished with capital punishment due to their active role in the freedom movement. His dedication and work inspired many who followed him. However, many generations later, his name unfortunately faded away, and this great freedom legend was forgotten.

All the people mentioned here and hundreds of others who are not, played an active role in the freedom movement. Even though their work towards independence has been overshadowed by the actions of other prominent nationalists, we as a country should strive not to forget all that they did for us. Their strength and sheer grit are the reason why we are a democratic country today, why we can breathe in peace. Thus, their contribution towards the nation will not remain buried or unremembered and will instead continue to lighten up the path of the current and the coming generations.

- Sonal Bera

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The lesser remembered faces of India’s Independence The lesser remembered faces of India’s Independence Reviewed by EMN on March 03, 2019 Rating: 5

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