August 15th 2007, is the 60th independence day being celebrated, by all Indians across the world. At stroke of midnight, on 15 August 1947, India became an independent nation. This was preceded by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous speech titled Tryst with destiny.
“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance….. We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again.”
15th August is a National holiday of India. In the capital New Delhi most of the Government Offices are lit up. Flag hoisting ceremonies and cultural programs take place in all the state capitals.
This day, I would like to remember few of the forgotten heroes, the freedom fighters, from all over India, who laid their lives for us, for the free independent India!!
Leaders from Bengal and Northeastern India:
Subhas Chandra Bose :Affectionately called as Netaji, was one of the most prominent leaders of Indian freedom struggle. Though Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru have garnered much of the credit for successful culmination of Indian freedom struggle, the contribution of Subash Chandra Bose is no less. He has been denied his rightful place in the annals of Indian history. He founded Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) to overthrow British Empire from India and came to acquire legendary status among Indian masses.
Khudiram Bose:Bengali Indian freedom fighter, one of the youngest revolutionaries early in the Indian independence movement. Khudiram and Prafulla Chaki were sent to Muzaffarpur, Bihar to assassinate Kingsford, the Calcutta Presidency Magistrate, and later, magistrate of Muzaffarpur, Bihar. On this Muzaffarpur bombing and other charges of bombings carried out by him, a pretence of trial was carried out for two months, and he was sentenced to death. But the one thing that surprised everyone was that as he was hanged he was still smiling.
Abdul Kalam Azad :Muslim scholar and a senior political leader of the Indian independence movement. He was one of the most prominent Muslim leaders to support Hindu-Muslim unity, opposing the partition of India on communal lines. Following India’s independence, he became the first Minister of Education, Government of India. He is commonly rememberd as Maulana Azad.
Bipin Chandra Pal :A teacher, journalist, orator, writer and librarian who started the journal , Bipin Chandra famous as was one of the triumvirate of the three Extremist patriots of the Congress’s- the “Pal” of “Lal Bal Pal”. The trio were responsible for intiating the first popular upsurge against British colonial policy in the 1905 partition of Bengal, much before the advent of Gandhi into Indian poltics. Pal was also the founder of the nationalistic journal Bande Mataram.
Leaders from Punjab and Northwest India:
Lala Lajpat Rai:Indian author and politician who is chiefly remembered as a leader in the Indian fight for freedom from the British Raj. The freedom fighter was popularly known as Punjab Kesari (Lion of the Punjab). He was one of the three most prominent Hindu Nationalist members of the Indian National Congress, who fought for, and gave their lives during the Indian independence movement in the first half of the twentieth century. The other two were Bal Gangadhar Tilak of Maharashtra and Bipin Chandra Pal of Bengal.
Bhagat Singh :Freedom fighter, considered to be one of the most famous revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement. For this reason, he is often referred to as Shaheed Bhagat Singh. He was hanged for shooting a police officer in response to the killing of veteran social activist Lala Lajpat Rai. His legacy prompted youth in India to begin fighting for Indian independence and also increased the rise of socialism in India.
Sukhdev Thapar : Sukhdev Thapar was an Indian revolutionary. He is best known as an accomplice of Bhagat Singh and Shivaram Rajguru in the killing of a British police officer in 1928 in order to take revenge for the death of veteran leader Lala Lajpat Rai due to excessive police beating.
Leaders from Gujarat and Maharashtra :
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel :Political and social leader of India who played a major role in the country’s struggle for independence and guided its integration into a united, independent nation. In India and across the world, he was often addressed as Sardar, which means Chief in many languages of India. He rose to the leadership of the Indian National Congress and was at the forefront of rebellions and political events, organising the party for elections in 1934 and 1937, and promoting the Quit India movement.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak :Indian nationalist, social reformer and freedom fighter 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.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah :Indian Muslim politician and leader of the All India Muslim League who founded Pakistan and served as its first Governor-General. He is officially known in Pakistan as Quaid-e-Azam and Baba-e-Qaum. His birth and death anniversaries are national holidays in Pakistan.Jinnah rose to prominence in the Indian National Congress expounding ideas of Hindu-Muslim unity and helping shape the 1916 Lucknow Pact with the Muslim League; he also became a key leader in the All India Home Rule League. Differences with Mohandas Gandhi led Jinnah to quit the Congress and take charge of the Muslim League.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar :Indian political leader and freedom fighter, who is credited with developing a Hindu nationalist political ideology he termed as Hindutva. Founding the Free India Society, Savarkar sought to organise fellow Indian students for the goal of independence through revolution:
“We must stop complaining about this British officer or that officer, this law or that law. There would be no end to that. Our movement must not be limited to being against any particular law, but it must be for acquiring the authority to make laws itself. In other words, we want absolute independence.”
Leaders from South India :
C. Rajagopalachari : Known as or Rajaji or C.R., was an Indian lawyer, writer, statesman and a devout Hindu . He was the second Governor-General of independent India. Later he became the Chief Minister of Madras State, and was one of the first recipients of India’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna.Rajaji was known to be a fierce defender of his political ideals, and did not hesitate to contradict his closest aides and friends in public, whenever he sensed a threat to them.
Sarojini Naidu :Known as Bharatiya Kokila (The Nightingale of India), was a child prodigy, freedom fighter, and poet. Naidu was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India. She joined the Indian independence movement, in the wake of the aftermath of partition of Bengal in 1905. From 1915 to 1918 she lectured all over India on welfare of youth, dignity of labour, women’s emancipation and nationalism.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan :Was a philosopher and statesman.One of the foremost scholars of comparative religion and philosophy in his day, he built a bridge between Eastern and Western thought showing each to be comprehensible within the terms of the other. He introduced Western idealism into Indian philosophy and was the first scholar of importance to provide a comprehensive exegesis of India’s religious and philosophical literature to English speaking peoples.
V. O. Chidambaram Pillai :Popularly known by his initials, V.O.C., was an Indian freedom fighter. He was a prominent lawyer, and a trade union leader. He gets credit for launching the first indigenous Indian shipping service between Tuticorin and Colombo with the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, competing against British ships. He was an Indian National Congress (INC) member, later charged with sedition by the British government and sentenced to life imprisonment; his barrister license was stripped. He is also known as “Kappalottiya Tamilan” in Tamil.
Leaders from North and Central India:
Chandrasekhar Azad:Indian revolutionary and the mentor of Bhagat Singh. Chandrasekhar Azad is considered one of the most famous Indian revolutionaries. Chandrashekhar said a soldier never relinquishes his weapon. Hence Chandrashekhar died with his weapon in his hand fighting with British. Chandrashekhar Azad was a terror for British police. He was on their hit list and the British police badly wanted to capture him dead or alive. On February 27, 1931 Chandrashekhar Azad met two of his comrades at the Alfred Park Allahabad. He was betrayed by an informer who had informed the British police. The police surrounded the park and ordered Chandrashekhar Azad to surrender. Chandrashekhar Azad fought alone valiantly and killed three policemen. But finding himself surrounded and seeing no route for escape, Chandrashekhar Azad shot himself. Thus he kept his pledge of not being caught alive.
Ashfaqulla Khan :Freedom fighter in Indian independence movement. The British authorities considered him a terrorist because of his active participation in Kakori train robbery. Ashfaqullah Khan was hanged on 19 December 1927. The mausoleum of Ashfaqullah Khan in Shahjahanpur is now a memorial. It has been said by some historians that Ashfaqulla Khan was the first Muslim to be hanged in a conspiracy case. His last message to the nation wrote, “I take pride in the fact that I will be the first and foremost Muslim to embrace death on the gallows for the freedom of my country.”
All the above mentioned men are those who laid their lives for our freedom, everyone might have read about them somewhere in books, or known about them in movies.
But I would also like to mention about the heroes and fighters whom we don’t know about, because of whom we are now having a peaceful sleep.
All our soldiers at the border. These are Men in Uniform!! I would like every one to salute for their courage and love for their duty.
Thousands of our valiant soldiers laid down their lives as they battled the enemy who tried to infiltrate into Kashmir. Years have passed since the war cries have fallen silent and the entire nation has moved on. What remains are memories of lives cut short, some very young, the sad tales of families of martyred soldiers as they try to deal with bureaucratic red tape in claiming compensation and unspoken, unvoiced fears of ingratitude. For some soldiers who survived the war, there is new anguish as they await elusive promotions or dues.
They died protecting our lives. Spare some time for these brave men….
Lt. Saurabh Kalia : Of 4 JAT Regiment of the Indian Army laid down his life at the young age of 22 for the nation while guarding the frontiers at Kargil. His parents, indeed the Indian Army and nation itself, lost a dedicated, honest and brave son. He was the first officer to detect and inform about Pakistani intrusion. Pakistan captured him and his patrol party of 5 brave men alive on May 15, 1999 from the Indian side of LOC.They were kept in captivity for three weeks and subjected to unprecedented brutal torture; evident from their bodies handed over by Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999. After 22 days of torture, the brave soldiers were ultimately shot dead. However, the Indian soldiers did not break while undergoing all this unimaginable barbarism,which speaks volumes of their patriotism, grit, determination, tenacity and valour – something all of India should be proud of.
Captain Haneef Uddin :11 Rajputana Rifles, Attacked by intruders and bombarded by artillery, he and his unit, equipped only with small arms,fought to the end. Cutting across the snowy peaks to push for the enemy-held heights, Haneef soldiered on despite artillery bombardment. Outgunned and outnumbered, he and his unit fought to the end.
Nation’s third highest wartime gallentry award VIR CHAKRA was awarded to Lt. Hanif-u-din, posthumously on 15th August 1999.
LT. COL. N. VijayaRaghavan :The brave man of the 15 Kumaon Regiment made the supreme sacrifice of his life on June 25 while leading counter-insurgency operations near Machchal near the LoC. Five militants were killed in the encounter, before one of the militants killed him. Lt.Col.Vijayraghavan had taken part in Operation Bluestar and counter-insurgency operations in Nagaland.
Major Padmaphani Acharya :Hailing from Hastinapur on the city’s outskirts, was killed in the Kargil operations. He was hit by enemy shelling. Padmaphani’s father Jagannatham, a retired Indian Air Force officer, took the news about his son’s death with pride. He said his second son, Captain Padma Sambhav Acharya, is also fighting in Kargil. “I am prepared to sacrifice my other son also for the sake of our motherland,” the proud father said.Nation’s second highest wartime gallentry award MAHA VIR CHAKRA was awarded to Major Padmaphani Acharya, posthumously on 15th August 1999.
Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey:He was commissioned in the 1/11 Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army. He forced back the intruders on June 11, 1999 at Batalik Sector in the Kargil war. He led his men to capture the Jubar top which was considered as important due to its strategic location. Quickly sizing up the situation, the young officer led his platoon along a narrow, treacherous ridge that led to the enemy position.Displaying great courage, he surged ahead of his troops and charged at the enemy with a full throated battle cry through a hail of bullets.Although wounded in the shoulder and leg, he pressed on his solitary charge with grim determination, until he closed in on the first bunker. Unmindful of his grievous wounds, he rushed from bunker to bunker urging his men on. Critically bleeding, he collapsed at the final bunker and finally succumbed to his injuries. But by this time he had already captured the bunker with his men.His last words were, “Na Chodnu” (Don’t Spare Them).Manoj Kumar Pandey was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest medal for gallantry, posthumously. His father, Mr. Gopichand Pandey, received the award from the President of India on the 52nd anniversary of Indian independence.
Capt Amol Kalia : The recapture of a key position in the Batalik sector, by Capt Amol Kalia and 13 of his men, all of whom died, was one of the bravest acts seen in the Kargil sector in the ongoing operations against Pakistani soldiers and Mujahideen.
There are many more who are giving their TODAY for our TOMORROW!!!
I would like to salute all of them whole heartedly!!!!I am dedicating this post, to all the soldiers in defense armies. It is because of them we are safe and sound in our homes!
Thank You all for being patient and reading this! It is worth remembering them at least on such occasions like this!