The story of India’s independence is a story of countless bravehearts who laid down their lives fighting for India’s freedom, and whose sacrifices made it possible for Indians to stand proud and witness the dawn of their independence and the beautiful sight of a freely hoisted tiranga.
East India company - the brutal and oppressive face of the British colonial empire which came to India as spice traders in 1608. In 1857, company started imposing taxations and also the recent land annexations by the company contributed to the anger of the sepoy multineers. Religious sentiments of Hindus and Muslims were also hurt as the company issued new gunpowder cartridges for the enfield rifle in February 1857. To load these rifles , the cartridges had to be peeled off by teeth. This would have insulted both Hindu and Muslim religious practices. These economic and religious causes led to a rebellion which was headed by Mangal Pandey, for which he was handed the death sentence. His martyrdom however, unbeknownst to the British, would become the spark to a blaze they would never have imagined - the first historic revolt of 1857.
In between the revolts that were happening all over the country , sepoys from Meerut reached the Mughal court to proclaim Bahadur Shah Zafar as the emperor of India and to lead the revolt under his banner. Nana Saheb Peshwa II led the sepoys in rebellion, with Tatya Tope as his general. Begum Hazrat Mahal defended the front from Lucknow , Rani Lakshmi Bai offered rigid resistance to the invading forces in Gwalior until she attained martyrdom. The British however, crushed all the spots of resistance. After Delhi fell to the British , the last Mughal Emperor , Bahadur Shah Zafar was arrested and countless Indians were viciously massacred. In 1858, the British Crown took direct control of India from the East India Company.
In 1905 , to divide and rule and to strike at the heart of Hindu–Muslim unity , the British government announced the partition of Bengal. But little did the British know that the battle cry of the Swadeshi movement would echo in every corner of the country. It started by addressing mass gatherings to boycott everything British , not just goods. Very soon the boycott and swadeshi messages started spreading in Punjab and other parts of northern India . Foreign goods were not only boycotted but they were also burned. Many swadeshi textile mills were established and the movement also revived
the Indian cottage industry. Shivaji and Ganapati festivals were organised to spread the ideas of nationalism and Swaraj. But soon the leaders of the Swadeshi movement were arrested by the British and the movement slowly began to wane.
1917-Champaran,Bihar.The Britishers had imposed a system under which farmers were forced to grow indigo in three out of twenty parts of their land. They were poorly compensated for their indigo crops and if they refused , they had to face heavy taxation. A new light dawned on the horizon of India’s freedom struggle. Gandhiji’s first Satyagraha brought relief to the peasants suffering due to British indigo planters. Peasants who were in distress due to crop failure and increased taxes got support from Vallabhbhai Patel and Gandhiji.
What happened on 13th April 1919 shook the entire nation to its core. The public had gathered to celebrate Baisakhi at Jallianwala Bagh , Amritsar. They had aimed to protest against the Rowlatt Act which allowed certain political cases to be tried without juries and internment of suspects without trial. In response to the gathering , British troops started firing on the crowd without even giving any prior notice. Several hundred people , including children , died and hundreds more were wounded. It left a permanent scar on the Indo-British relations.
In 1920 ,to mark a new awakening in the Indian independence struggle , Mahatma Gandhi led the non – violent, non – cooperation movement. It sought to attain Swaraj and establish self-governance. The movement was at its peak , but in 1922 during a procession in Chauri Chaura , a large group of protestors , participating in the non-cooperation movement , clashed with police , who opened fire. The incident led to the deaths of three protestors and twenty-three policemen. Agitated by the violence , Mahatma Gandhi withdrew the non-cooperation movement .
While the war against foreign oppression was being fought nationwide, an internal war against oppressive social forces like untouchability was being prosecuted by Baba Saheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi. While Ambedkar believed that untouchability could not be completely removed without completely abolishing the caste system , Gandhiji saw untouchability as a sin of religion that could be corrected through reforms. In 1927, active movements were launched against untouchability. Ambedkar began public movements and marches to open up public drinking water resources and allowing the untouchable community to draw water from the main water tanks of the town and also for the right to enter Hindu temples.
On 8th April , 1929, opposing the trade disputes and the public safety bills , Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw smoke bombs and leaflets inside the central legislative assembly at Delhi as a mark of protest for the death of Lala Rajpat Rai, who died after being attacked by the police during a demonstration in Lahore.
In 1930 , British government had stooped low enough to ban the manufacture and sale of a bare necessity like salt and levied high taxes on the salt that was imported from Britain. Gandhi turned this humble salt itself into a lethal weapon. On Dandi beach , holding a fistful of salt in his hand, Gandhi defied that very law. The salt satyagraha, which lasted almost a year, spread like wildfire across the country, whittling away at British authority and oppression. In the blink of an eye , Madras , Calicut , Assam , Bengal , Andhra , and other parts of the country started witnessing salt marches. The freedom struggle was stronger than ever.
On 8th August , 1942 , Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India movement. The Quit India movement was Mahatma Gandhi’s ultimatum to the Britishers for the final withdrawal. He gave a mantra to the nation , “Do or die”. Either we free India or we die trying. Within a few hours of this declaration , Mahatma Gandhi , Jawaharlal Nehru , Abdul Kalam Azad , and all other prominent congress leaders were arrested. Spontaneous protests kept erupting throughout the country. The Quit India movement was a pivotal movement , the whole country rose up in revolt. Police stations , courts , railway stations and other symbols of British rule were captured and the tricolour was flown from their masts. The infuriated government not only retaliated the mass arrests but also machine-gunned civilians from low-flying aircrafts.
India has seen a lot of freedom fighters fight for their motherland. A number of them sacrificed their lives selflessly for the freedom of the country. No matter how small role they played , they are significant today as they were in those times. Veer Kunwar Singh - an 80 year old warrior who got shot in the wrist , severed it to reduce the risk of poisoning so that he can still continue his war against Britishers . The Anglo-Manipur war , started in 1891 , where a Manipuri major , Paona Brajabashi , chose death over surrender , a time came when people from all over India started opposing oppressive government policies . Birsa Munda led the Munda tribe in rebellion , and proclaims “Our rule , in our land”. Valliyappan Pillai became the first Indian to establish an indigenous shipping company in 1906 . Motilal Nehru , Chittaranjan Das and other Congress leaders boycotted the 1920 Council Elections, Alluri Sitaram Raju led a group of tribals , protesting the Madras Forest Act. Revolutionaries across the country were ready to sacrifice everything they had.
But after many decades of struggle , it was the time to break the chains of slavery and oppression by which India was shackled. After years of suffering in the war , India won its freedom from British Colonial rule . Britain finally gave in and announced India’s independence on 15th august , 1947 , and also its partition into two countries , India and Pakistan .