Unknown freedom fighters of India
India- the land of the brave and the home of the free is only because of the courageous freedom fighters that fought their way through the odds to give an independent nation to their offspring. British have ruled India for more than 200 years and called it the crown rule in India. During this 200 years tenure, India has witnessed some of the most incredibly legendary people that challenged the British Raj to withdraw. Independent India is indeed the collective victory of all such brave people who contributed to the freedom revolution.
The brave acts of Subhas Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Rani Lakshmi Bai, or Bal Gangadhar Tilak are nothing less than legendary. Every citizen of India is aware of how these fearless souls made our country free but have you ever heard about Begum Hazrat Mahal or Senapati Bapat? Though Indians have never forgotten the legacy of our freedom fighters- there seems to be few the country failed to give enough credit. Here are few freedom fighters that remained unsung and uncelebrated in pages of history.
Lesser-known freedom fighters of India
Our independence was hard-fought and just like every battle- there are heroes, aren’t there?
Begum Hazrat Mahal:
Do you remember the 1857 Indian Rebellion? It was one of the major but unsuccessful rebellions of India from 1857–58 against the British East India Company. Begum Hazrat Mahal played a very crucial role in this Rebellion. Born in Faizabad, Awadh, her maiden name was Muhammadi Khanum. She was married to Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last ruler of Awadh. After her husband was sent to exile in Calcutta, Begum Hazrat Mahal took control over Awadh and seized control over Lucknow where she bought British forces to the knees during the 1857 Indian Rebellion. Though she fought bravery against the British rule, Mahal was soon forced to retreat to Nepal where she ultimately died.
Pandurang Mahadev Bapat or Senapati Bapat:
Pandurang Mahadev Bapat also known as Senapati Bapat was one of the initial figures in the Indian independence movement. He was a master in bomb-making skills and during his leadership in Mulshi Satyagraha, he acquired the title Senapati. Though initially he was considered a seasoned revolutionary, Senapati often talked about violence due to which he was once even sent to Jail. But later in his life, Bapat chose Gandhian Philosophy of non-violence and Satyagraha. In 1921, Bapat led the three-year-long farmer’s protest against the construction of Mulshi Dam. The protest ultimately failed but his struggle for a better India was awarded in 1977 when the Indian government issued a postage stamp to commemorate him. On 15 August 1947, Bapat was given the honor of raising the Indian national flag over the city of Pune for the first time.
Potti Sreeramulu was an Indian freedom fighter and a revolutionary. He was an avid follower of Mahatma Gandhi and thus chose the path of non-violence. In an effort to protect the interests of the Andhra people Sreeramulu performed a hunger strike for almost 58 days before he died on 15 December 1952. For his sacrifice for the Andhra people, he is widely revered as Amarajeevi “Immortal Being”. Though his sacrifice failed to capture nationwide attention, the people of Andhra still remember him for his self-sacrificing act.
Aruna Asaf Ali:
Aruna Asaf Ali was an active participant in the Indian Independence movement. She became a member of the Indian National Congress after marrying Asaf Ali. During her participation in Salt Satyagraha Aruna Ali was arrested and sent to jail. She was once again arrested for her participation in another movement where she launched a hunger strike in the Tihar jail. Her efforts were successful as the condition of the Jail was improved. During her fight for an independent India, she volunteered in several movements and also encouraged people to join the revolution. Aruna Asaf Ali is widely remembered as a lady for hoisting the Indian National flag during the Quit India Movement in 1942.
Tara Rani Srivastava:
Few often repeated and famous names like Rani Laxmi Bai, Sarojini Naidu, or Annie Besant, the contribution of many women from small regions of India for independence received less attention. Tara Rani Srivastava was one of the unsung warriors of Bihar and a part of Mahatma Gandhi’s Quit India Movement. In 1942, Srivastava along with her husband marched towards Siwan police station where her husband was shot by the British forces in preventing them from hoisting the flag. She tore a piece of cloth from her sari and wrapped it over her husband’s wound. After that, she nonetheless continued her march and reached the police station where she attempted to host the Indian national flag. After returning she found that her husband has succumbed to his injuries and died. The tragic incident wasn’t enough for Srivastava to quit her fight against the British; she bravely continued her revolutionary acts for the next five years until the country was finally independent in 1947.
Peer Ali Khan:
Peer Ali Khan was an Indian revolutionist and an important figure in the 1857 freedom struggle. He had a small book shop in Patna which was turned into a point of secret meetings amongst freedom fighters. He was soon able to gather support for his rebellion against the British. He raised a blue and white flag and gathered his troops to distribute 50 guns which he acquired with the help of Maulvi Mehdi. Maulvi was however soon arrested and hung without trial. The day was the 3rd of July, 1857, when Peer Ali raised the flag of mutiny. He along with 200 supporters decided to storm Gulzar Bagh, headquarter of the State administration where they managed to kill Dr. Lloyal. British forces in turn were ordered to open fire on the random crowd killing hundreds of people. Peer Ali shop was also raided and he was subsequently arrested with his supporters. Though his supporters were hung to death the very next day, Peer Ali was tortured for three days to extract the information about the other rebellions. Despite the brutal torture, he never disclosed any information and was ultimately hanged on 7th July 1857.
Abadi Bano Begum:
Also known as Bi Amman, Abadi Bano Begum was a prominent voice in the Indian independence movement. She was one of the first Muslim women to actively participate in the freedom movement. Widowed at a young age, Bano had the responsibility of raising her five sons and two daughters all by herself. She fought her way to educate her children among whom Maulana Mohammad Ali Jouhar and Maulana Shaukat Ali went on to become leading figures of the Khilafat Movement and the Indian independence movement. Abadi Bano also fought for the release of Annie Besant and her two sons from the prison. Seeing her sheer dedication, Mahatma Gandhi encouraged her to speak to get support from the women of the country. She often spoke behind the purdah and in 1917 during the All India Muslim League; she gave the most heartwarming speech of her life. She also encouraged several women to donate to Tilak Swaraj Fund set by Bal Gangadhar Tilak.
The Bottom Line
Though their stories were soon faded, they all will remain heroes who fought for the free world we enjoy. While some stories became famous with time, some remained in the dark but that doesn’t mean that one sacrifice for the nation was less than the other. Each one of them contributed collectively in the fight for Independent India. They all are heroes, heroes whose legacies should never fade with time. As the citizens of a free India, we should never take for granted the freedom we are privileged to have. Because this privilege is the result of 200 years-long battle of bloodshed and indiscriminate torture of those whose stories you might not even have had ever heard off.