Our Forgotten Heroes
“A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new… India discovers herself again.” – J.L. Nehru. On the eve of India’s independence, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru famous speech “Tryst with Destiny” marked the beginning of a free India with words symbolizing hope and triumph.
This year incredible India is celebrating its 67thIndependence Day. India got its independence from the clutches of British rule on 15th August 1947. It was this day when India’s tricolour flag was unfolded by Pandit Nehru on the barricades of the Red Fort at Delhi.
The history behind Indian independence is very painful and is full of sacrifices. And only because of those sacrifices India freed herself from the shackles of British Empire. It was an endless struggle of millions faceless Indians, who made the inhabitants united and fought for the freedom of their own country. Each and every patriotic soul watched with excitement and paid tribute to thousands of martyrs who sacrificed their lives for India’s freedom.
The year 1857 is a benchmark in the history of Indian independence. On 29th march 1875, a brave Indian soldier first ever raised his voice against the British Empire and later it resulted to Sepoy Mutiny. Mahatma Gandhi. The name of the Indian soldier was Mangal Pandey, and the reason behind his revolt was, low wages of Indian workers than other British soldiers, racial discrimination and cultural misunderstandings. And another strong reason was the packing of the cartridges which was believed to be greased with cow and pig fat and soldiers had to tear the packing with their teeth in order to use it. Combination of all these issues led to the violent uprising of Barrakpore Sepoy mutiny. Mangal Pandey, was hanged because he had shot his sergeant major on the parade ground. This incident fanned the fire of the revolution. On 10th May of the same year the enraged Indian soldiers and the common civilians of Meerut joined their hands to protest against the ill-treatment of the British on some native soldiers.
In next few decades there were many small and big wars fought against the empire. Among these wars most prominent were the Battle of Kanpur led by Nana Shahib of Bittur. He progressed with the Gwalior contingent after the British reoccupation of Kanpur and forced General Windham to retreat from Kanpur. During the Siege of Cawnpore in 1857, Nana Sahib’s forces attacked the British entrenchment at Kanpur in June 1857. The low supplies of food, water and medicine added to the misery of the British Forces who accepted Nana Sahib offer of safe passage to Allahabad.
With all due respect, Indian nationalist, social reformer and freedom fighter – Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who was the first popular leader of the Indian Independence Movement and is known as “Father of the Indian unrest.” Tilak was one of the first and strongest proponents for Swaraj in Indian consciousness, and is considered the father of Hindu nationalism as well. His famous quote, “Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it!” is well-remembered in India even today and is very popular. Reverently addressed as Lokmanya, Tilak was a scholar of Indian history, Sanskrit, Hinduism, mathematics and astronomy.
The central and the final characters of these epic strugglers should be well etched in public minds. They sacrificed their ‘today’ for our ‘tomorrow’. We should salute these martyrs.