‘As we celebrate the Republic Day, we remember some of the architects of India’s Independence’
More than 70 years after India’s independence, the country still remembers and invokes the heroes of the freedom movement who thought nothing of giving up their lives for the cause of the country. As we celebrate the Republic Day, here are some of the main architects of India’s Independence.
Among all of the architects of the country’s independence, no one is referred and remembered in more awed reverence than Bhagat Singh. So much so that the word ‘Shaheed’ (martyr) is an inextricable prefix to his name. Born in Banga presently in Pakistan, Singh was supposedly deeply affected by his visit to the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy site when he was just 12. Influenced by socialist revolutionary movements elsewhere in the world, Singh started the Naujawan Bharat Sabha in 1926, an Indian socialist youth organisation. Singh was instrumental in several disruptionary incidents that he became a thorn in the side of the British. But two of his acts stand out and turned him into an Indian folk hero, especially of the Independence movement. In 1928, he shot and killed a British officer who he suspected had been responsible for the death of Lala Lajpath Rai, another freedom architect. But it was his act of exploding two improvised bombs in the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi that got him arrested and he was subsequently hanged for it in 1931 when he was 23. But his story galvanised the youth and led to increased protests all over the country.
Born into an ordinary family in Bhabhra in present-day Madhya Pradesh, Chandrashekar was greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s call for independence and joined the Non-Cooperation Movement as a student in Varanasi. He was subsequently arrested and gave his name as ‘Azad’ when he was produced before the magistrate which became a permanent suffix to his name. From there on, he became a revolutionary and was involved with establishing the Hindustan Socialist Republic Association, which also trained and mentored other revolutionaries, including providing them with shooting practice. His paths crossed with that of other freedom fighters such as Bhagat Singh and Ashfaqulla Khan and he was involved in the Kakori Train Robbery. Such was his deep belief in freedom and hatred of the British that when he was cornered by the latter in a park in 1931 in Allahabad, he preferred to shoot himself rather than be captured. Azad is considered to be one of the cornerstones for accelerating the freedom movement.
Subhash Chandra Bose
Invoked with awe and hallowed tones, Subhash Chandra Bose is among the architects of Indian freedom who is considered to be both worthy of emulation as well as enigmatic. Born in Cuttack under the Bengal Presidency of British India, currently in Odisha, Bose was an ardent believer and follower of Swami Vivekananda with a fervent patriotic zeal even as student. Bose was a natural rebel and his patriotism ran deep, so much so that he is believed to have slapped a British professor for a racist remark against Indians. It was this strong belief that prompted him to establish the Indian National Army or the Azad Hind Fauj as it was called. He is known to have famously given out a clarion call, “Tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe azadi doonga” (give me your blood; I shall give you freedom). He established connections with like-minded people and movements all over the world, including Japan and Germany, and organised attacks against the British establishment. He is supposed to have died in a plane crash in 1945, though some aspects of it are shrouded in mystery and has led to speculation.
Shivaram Hari Rajguru
Alongside Bhagat Singh, it is Shivaram Hari Rajguru’s name that is taken with admiration and respect. Born in Khed of the Bombay Presidency of British India, in present-day Maharashtra, to a Marathi Brahmin family, Rajguru came in contact with Azad and the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. It was here that his skills were honed towards obtaining the country’s freedom. He became an associate of Singh and was instrumental in the killing of a British officer suspected to be behind the death of Lajpath Rai. Rajguru was arrested and hanged. But along with Singh, Rajguru’s death resulted in renewed vigour for the freedom movement and spurred the country’s youth to join in.
Words: Anita Rao Kashi