The Indian War of Independence from the British Colonial Powers lasted for numerous decades and finally after a long struggle freedom was achieved. It was a war that abolished British supremacy in the world. Hundreds and thousands of men, women and children fought for it till their last breath and some like Shaheed Bhagat Singh even in their death. I might not be able to pay my respects to all of those great souls. But that doesn’t mean that their contribution wasn’t worthwhile. The free air that we breath, and every walk that we take is all because of those noble ones and this is a tribute to them- This one is to them, to Freedom!
Bahadur Shah Zafar
Bahadur Shah Zafar
The last Mughal Emperor of India, Bahadur Shah was a poet and had little ambitions of expanding his territory which now was merely the Red fort. The British has already taken power over the majority of the country. When the Revolt of 1847 started, he and all his sons participated to free India. He led his army for the sepoy mutiny against the East India Company. The revolt didn’t succeed and Shah along with his sons was tried in court for rebelling. He was exiled to Rangoon (Now Bangladesh). Even after the defeat, he said “Ghāzioń méń bū rahegi jab talak imān ki; Takht-e-London tak chalegi tégh Hindustan ki” (As long as there remains the scent of faith in the hearts of our Ghazis, so long shall the sword of Hindustan flash before the throne of London). It is believed that on the day of Nouroj (Persian New Years) which is one of the biggest festivals, he was presented with chopped heads of his sons by a British Officer. Even then instead of showing remorse of showing his weakness in front of the colonial powers he said “Praise be to Allah, that descendents of Timur always come in front of their fathers in this way.”
Annie Besant was a British Activist who believed in Indian Self-rule. During the First World War, she campaigned for the Freedom of India and helped in the formation of the ‘Home Rule League’. She was elected as the President of the Congress and got extremely involved in the Indian Politics. She was also a Woman’s Rights Activist. SHe kept campaigning and fighting against her own country for the establishment of democracy in India until her death in 1933.
The Nightingale of India, Sarojini Naidu was a poet and a social activist. She studied at the King’s College, London and Girton College, Cambridge. She was the first women to become the Governor of an India state as well as the Indian National Congress. She was one of the members who formed the Constitution of India. During the Partition of Bengal, she came in contact with prominent Independent leaders like Annie Besant, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rabindranath Tagore, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and others. She started travelling from state to state and delivered speeches on social welfare and spread the message of independence through her poetry. An important woman leader, her birthday is now celebrated as ‘Womans’ Day’ all over India.
Subhas Chandra Bose
Netaji as he was called was a very prominent figure in the Indian freedom struggle. His sole aim was the freedom of his country and he termed it as a necessity and didn’t agree with Gandhiji on the terms that it can be negotiated. He was well educated and believed that there should be complete intolerance for caste-differentiation, racism or religious separation. His was so active in the Indian National Congress that he was arrested several times by the British Government. Soon he realised that international backing was a must for India’s freedom and hence started meeting leaders from Japan, Italy, and Germany who were against the British forces in the World War 2. He even met Mussolini and Hitler at different times. He was completely against the racism that The dictators propagated but he appreciated the discipline and unity of their men. It was on Hitler’s Suggestion that he went to Japan and formed the Indian National Army and started the Campaign ‘Challo Dilli’ which though failed, wasn’t enough to break his spirit. The Slogan ‘Jai Hind’ was also given by him which still prevails.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
Born in a Dalit family, Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was a victim of the Indian caste System. Being of the lowest caste, he was accosted with negligible opportunities for his intelligence. But being a genius he saw the light and converted to Buddhism helped many others from the lower castes to convert and not oblige to the inhuman behaviour conducted towards them. His love for books and learning played a major role in his liberation. It was this hunger for knowledge that made him the chairman of the committee that founded the constitution of India. Dr. Ambedkar was the one who scripted the constitution of this democratic country.
Mangal Pandey was a soldier in the British troops. In 1847, there were rumours spreading that the cartridges supplied by the East India Company had pork and beef in them and this was against the religion of both Hindus and Muslims. At that time, Pandey convinced his colleagues that the Company wouldn’t do anything of this sort. But later after a series of event he realised that the Company didn’t have the best interest of the Indian population in its mind and was just them like slaves. The winds of an uprising had already started flowing and soon it turned into the first ‘Revolt of !857’ and Mangal Pandey, who was at the forefront of the struggle became the First Freedom Fighter of the Indian Struggle for Independence.
She fought a man’s war, she was Rani Lakshmibai of Jhanji’ go the lyrics of a song written in her honour. Lakshmibai was a queen of the Princely state of Jhansi. During the ongoing Revolt of 1857, The British government ordered that all princely states that do not have a male heir will be taken over by the government. Queen Lakshmibai was widowed and had an adopted son. But she refused to give her reign. When the troops of the Colonial power arrived to the fort, they found it well defended by the army of Queen Jhansi. She led her troops and fought the battle. It has also been reported that she commanded the largest women’s army till date. When finally she saw that they were losing the battle, she tied her son to her back and started riding away to save her son with colonial army chasing her. Unfortunately her luck had passed and her horse fell and she with it fell over breaking her head. Her words ‘Mein Apni Jhansi nahi Dundi’ (I will not give my Jhansi) have gone down in history for the sheer bravery of this woman who fought a man’s war.
A revolutionary who was brought up in the patriotic atmosphere, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, where Shaheed means ‘Martyr’, from a very young age all he ever dreamed was of seeing his country free. He met Rajguru and Sukhdev who shared his thoughts and together they fought several guerrilla wars fighting and revolting every British law that was against the civilians and also against the right of humanity. The Jallianwalla Baugh Massacre is one such example of the colonial inhumanity. He even blasted bombs inside the Assembly hall shouting slogans of ‘Inqualab Zindabad’( Independence Prevails) to revolt against two laws-“Trade Union Dispute Bill” and “Public Safety Bill”. All three were arrested and hanged to death. Their death, instead of silencing the people, actually acted as catalyst that ignited the fire within people as even while leaving all three kept uttering-“ Sar Kata Sakte Hai mar, Sar Zhuka Sakte Nahi” ( We can have our heads chopped but not bowed).
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
One of the most iconic men that ever took birth and still continues to survive in the lessons of passive-resistance and non-violence that he selflessly gave to the world, hence making it a much better place. He gave up everything, his law career; his house and wealthy family to fight for justice and for the betterment of his people who were being treated as third class citizens by the colonial British. Even in the harshest of conditions, he never gave up his morals and rules, no matter what the cost of it. Mahatma Gandhi has right fully been given the title of the father of the nation as India truly owes its independence as a republic and a democracy to this Short, thin brown man who needed a stick while walking to support him but who was strong enough to take the responsibility of an entire country and usher it to the world of sovereignty.