The Indian struggle for freedom was a relentless war waged by millions of people. A barbaric and atrocious colonial regime aimed to destroy the Indian identity. Indians fought the war for freedom from Britishers for a long time, which was bloody, and turbulent, but most importantly, united them. Even today, Indians are inspired by the long-lasting struggle for independence that lasted decades. There is a rich history of Indian warriors who fought for the war of independence, albeit differently but all for the same cause. Umpteen numbers of freedom fighters lost their families, income, and even their lives in the long years of freedom struggle. Sadly, many have faded into history, while some have continued to dominate the limelight, regardless of their achievements.
The sacrifices of millions of Indians have been forgotten because of skewed historical perspectives, and it’s imperative to recognize a few of them.
The following are some of the freedom fighters whose contributions were and still are valuable. They certainly deserve recognition despite not receiving much of the respect they deserve:
- Tirot Sing- Tirot Sing was a Khasi chief. In his tribe, he is revered as a hero because he was killed while combating the British when they attempted to take over the Khasi Hills.
- Matangini Hazra- Matangini was an active participant in the Quit India Movement and Non-Cooperation Movement. She was shot three times while marching with the Indian flag during a Quit India movement protest.Despite being shot, she kept shouting “Vande Mataram”. She was lovingly referred to as Gandhi Buri.
- Tara Rani Srivastava- She was a freedom fighter, who was actively involved in the Quit India movement alongside Gandhi. As a couple, she and Phulendu Babu participated in the movement in Saran, Bihar. In 1942, while leading a march to the police station in Siwan, her husband was shot by police. Despite this, she continued the march, only to return later and find her husband dead. Her involvement in the freedom struggle continued until the country gained independence five years later.
- Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi- The name Kulpati was famously associated with him. He played a significant role in the Quit India Movement during India’s freedom struggle. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan was founded by him. Despite being arrested numerous times, his passion for India’s freedom never waned.
- Garimella Satyanarayana- During the Indian national freedom struggle, Garimella inspired the people of Andhra Pradesh. Many of his poems and songs were intended to motivate the people of Andhra to take an active role in the movement against the British.
- Tirupur Kumaran- The Desa Bandhu Youth Association was founded by Tirupur. A number of protest marches against the colonial government were organized by him. He was killed on 11th January 1932 for holding a flag of Indian nationalists that the British had banned. The flag was still in his hands when he died as a result of his injuries.
- Parbati Giri- Parbati Giri was a young teenager of 16 but actively participated at the forefront of all freedom activities, especially in the Quit India Movement. Parvati was also imprisoned for 2 years for being a part of the national freedom struggle. Giri continued serving the public socially, post-independence. She was also referred to as the Mother Teresa of Western Orissa.
- Velu Nachiyar- Rani Velu Nachiyar was a queen of the Sivaganga estate from c.1780-1790. She was the first Indian queen who fought valiantly against the East India Co. She is fondly remembered by the Tamils as Veeramangai.
- Kamladevi Chattopadhyay- Kamaladevi was the first Indian woman who fought for a legislative seat. Because of her active participation in the Indian freedom struggle, she was the first Indian woman to be arrested by the Britishers. She played a vital role as a social reformer in reviving handicrafts, theatres, and handlooms to help uplift the socio-economic standards of Indian women.
- Veerapandiya Kattabomman – Veerapandiya was a Palyeakar chieftain from Tamil Nadu, who waged a war against Britishers in the 18th He refused to obey and oblige against the tax hegemony of the Britishers. Subsequently, he was caught and hanged in 1799.
- Surendra Sai- He was the crown prince of Sambalpur, who protected western Odisha from the clutches of the Britishers. He encouraged the tribals from his area to understand and value their culture and stand against the colonial forces. He surrendered in 1862 and spent twenty years in prison, dying in the shadows of obscurity.
- Sido and Kanha Murmu- Sido and Kanha were two brothers, who belonged to the Santhal tribe. They led an armed rebellion of 10,000 armed Santhalis against the Britishers on 30th June 1855. Unfortunately, their success couldn’t last long, as their weapons were primitive as compared to the modern armory of the Britishers.
- Benoy Krishna Basu, Dinesh Gupta, and Badal Gupta- Dressed as Europeans, these young freedom fighters infiltrated Col. NS Simpson’s chambers. They shot him at the Writers Building State Secretariat in Kolkata in 1930. It was because of his cruel treatment of the imprisoned freedom fighters and his cruelty as a tyrant, that they shot him. As they did not wish to get caught, they took their own lives. While Badal ingested cyanide, Benoy and Dinesh shot themselves with revolvers. Post-independence, the location of this incident is now known as Benoy-Badal-Dinesh (BBD) Bag.
As India celebrates its platinum jubilee this year, 75 years of independence represents a significant achievement. It has been a long and arduous journey from the beginning for India, filled with numerous challenges and upheavals. The fight for independence wasn’t restricted to a few or remote events. It was a concerted effort from every Indian who spoke up and fought back against the British. Our awareness of the fact that many freedom fighters are still unrecognized has grown over the past few years. It is intended as an indication only, not as an exhaustive list, but merely to highlight the names that have been lost. Sadly, many of these freedom fighters gave their lives very early and didn’t witness the dawn of 15th August 1947. Our appreciation and reverence should be extended to those who sacrificed without the privilege of being attributed names or dates. Being able to identify our true fighters is beneficial for us as a nation, and they deserve our respect and adulation, instead of the purported reality.