The very words "Freedom Fighters" bring vividly to our minds the saga of sacrifices made by millions, some of whom laid down their lives in a blazing trail of glory. This compilation is an attempt to capture and preserve their sentiments, courage, heroism, nobility of character and lofty ideals.
Bondage, whether social, economic or political, has always evoked intense resistance the world over. The history of foreign domination in India also is replete with acts of courage, sacrifice and dedication to the cause of freedom. The revolt against British rule goes back to the heroic struggle of 1857. With the advent of great leaders like Lokamanya Tilak, Netaji and Gandhiji on the national scene, the methods and means of the struggle changed, but over the decades, the freedom fighters worked for the freedom of the country with the same dedication, singleness of purpose and solidarity. This is one chapter of our history which will inspire the generations to come.
The heroes of our freedom struggle came from every corner of the country. They did not speak one language. They did not belong to one religion or one caste. They rose above these narrow loyalties and considerations. An intense love for their motherland and a keenness to see it free permeated all their existence. That was the single thread of unity that bound them all.
The idea of writing the Who’s Who of Indian Martyrs was conceived as much for paying the homage of a grateful people to their martyrs as to keep alive their memory. This will be a constant reminder for our future generations not to forget that the edifice of Free India has been built on untold sacrifices. The publication of this book during the Gandhi Centenary Year has a special significance. Gandhiji's dream of a Free India became a reality only because of the sacrifices of thousands of freedom fighters, many of whom would always remain anonymous and whose names will never find mention in the pages of our history. This is one way to express our deep and abiding gratitude to them.
I consider it a unique privilege to be asked to write a foreword to such a compilation. I hope this book will be widely read. This effort will be amply rewarded if it succeeds in inspiring the people to rededicate themselves to the urgent task of consolidating our hard-won freedom. In the years to come, we will have to continue our struggle against economic and social bondage in order to give a new meaning and content to our freedom. The glorious memory of our freedom fighters will always be a source of strength to us.
Several books have been written on the history of the freedom movement in India. Biographies of some of the important national leaders have also been brought out during the last three decades. However, there is hardly any authentic work of reference containing biographical data about the patriots who sacrificed their lives in the country's struggle for independence. The need for perpetuating the memory of these patriots by compiling a faithful record of their lives and activities has long been felt. A large number of Members of Parliament evinced keen interest in a work of this nature. The Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Education & Youth Services gave an assurance on the floor of the House about bringing out a 'Who's Who' of Indian martyrs by October 1969, so as to synchronise with the Gandhi Centenary Celebrations. The Ministry of Education & Youth Services took up this work in December 1968, in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Originally, it was intended to cover the period from the Great Revolt of 1857 to the transfer of power in August 1947. However, it soon became apparent that the scope of the publication would have to be extended to include all those patriots who were hanged or killed during the struggle for the establishment of popular governments in the erstwhile Princely States and in the course of the liberation movements in the former French and Portuguese possessions in India. The peoples' movement in the States was widespread from Kashmir to Travancore- Cochin. It continued till the integration of the States took place after the attainment of Independence. As in the Princely States, so also in the former French and Portuguese possessions in India, the freedom struggle extended beyond 1947. The liberation movement in Goa, for example, gained momentum only after India became free. It was, therefore, decided that the Who! Who of Indian Martyrs should be brought out in three volumes. The present volume includes those patriots who were hanged or killed in the country's struggle for freedom after the Great Revolt of 1857 till India got her Independence in 1947. The second volume will cover all those persons who sacrificed their lives in the struggle for the liberation of the French and Portuguese possessions in India and a large number of those martyrs of the former Princely States whose data reached us too late for inclusion in the first volume. It will, in addition, include those martyrs about whom information was not available at the time when the manuscript of the first volume was sent to the press. The third volume will deal exclusively with the martyrs of the Great Revolt of 1857.
The collection, compilation and editing of biographical data of the martyrs, who belonged to different parts of undivided India, has been a stupendous job. Our task was made even more difficult as the volume had to be published by October 1969, to synchronise with the Gandhi Centenary Celebrations. We had, therefore, hardly six months to collect, compile and edit the material and send the manuscript to the press.
It is always a difficult problem to collect authentic information about revolutionaries who did their work in secret. There is hardly any written record of their activities or programme of work. Our task was, however, made easier by the cooperation of the members of Parliament and State Legislatures, the State Governments and the public. The response from the public as well as descendants of the martyrs, whom we approached through press advertisements, has been quite encouraging and reveals how fondly our people cherish the memory of those who laid down their lives so that India might be free. A few persons have also supplied photographs of the martyrs. Some of the photographs published in this volume have been taken from the Roll of Honour by K. C. Ghosh and from Mrityunjayee, published by the Mahajati Sadan, Calcutta.
The Editors of the Freedom Fighters' Who’s Who in the States and Union Territories collected and supplied to us authenticated information about the martyrs from their respective regions. The Central Intelligence Bureau, the Inspectors General of Police and Prisons and other police officials in the States and Union Territories have helped in the collection of information. In this connection, the help and cooperation of Shri B. Venkataraman, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, has been of great value.
Though compiled on the pattern of a Who's Who, the biographical data of the martyrs reveal many facets of their heroic career. What the martyrs shared in common was their fiery patriotism which egged them on to face bravely the repressive forces of a mighty empire having unlimited resources. The idea of overthrowing British rule in India gripped their minds so completely that they renounced the pleasures of domestic life and willingly chose the path of sacrifice and suffering, including inhuman torture in prison and death. Their courage, fortitude and lofty ideals in the face of death evoke the admiration of even those who do not believe in the violent methods chosen by many of the martyrs.
The publication of this volume has been made possible mainly due to the keen interest taken by Shri Y. B. Chavan, Minister of Home Affairs, and Prof. Y.K.R.Y. Rao, Minister of Education & Youth Services. We are also indebted to Shri Bhakt Darshan, Minister of State for Education and Youth Services, for his guidance and constant encouragement. Our thanks are due to Dr. Triguna Sen, former Education Minister, who provided the initial momentum for the implementation of this project. Valuable help was also received from Dr. A.M. D'Rozario, Joint Secretary, arid Shri A.B. Chandiramani, Joint Educational Adviser, Ministry of Education & Youth Services.
For the speedy completion of this work, I would like particularly to record my appreciation of the good work done by the two Zonal Editors, Shri P. C. Roy and Shri Vijay B. Sinha, who have been unsparing in their efforts to share the greater part of the burden with me and seeing the volume through the press.
This year we celebrate the Silver Jubilee of our national independence. India has come a long way in these 25 years, but the fascinating saga of how we regained our freedom from foreign domination has lost none of its excitement and thrill, especially for those of us who have had the good fortune of participating in and living through the culmination of the fight for freedom.
The unique struggle, carried out under the leadership of the Father of our nation, is of abiding historical significance. It holds many lessons for us which are indispensable in shaping our destiny. Let us remember that the will of a united people is more potent than the power of arms and aggression. Let us also remember that imperial interests are incompatible with national aspirations. In its diverse forms, imperialism has been and continues to be a major source of exploitation and conflict in the world. We have thrown off the unbearable burden of colonialism, which is imperialism in its most blatant form, but we must remain on guard against its more subtle forms which are no less pernicious in their influence on out thought and action. Let us not forget that our freedom was not a gift handed over to us on a platter. It was our own national awakening, the struggle and sacrifices of several generations of our people, which brought back freedom and national self-respect. And again, it is largely our own efforts and sacrifices to preserve the integrity of the country against foreign aggression and to support the legitimate aspirations of other people, especially the people of Bangladesh, which have brought an enhanced national consciousness and unity of purpose.
It has been well said that the price of freedom is constant vigilance. There is no better way of preserving and consolidating our freedom than the way of self- reliance. As Jawaharlal Nehru had said, “tomorrow’s India will be what we make it by today’s labours”. A great many of our people made the supreme sacrifice so that their beloved land shall have a new birth of freedom, so that at least their children may live as proud citizens of a free country. We owe it to the martyrs whom we seek to honour, we owe it to ourselves and to the future generations to work resolutely towards making India a great country in which goodwill and harmony will prevail and in which every citizen can live in dignity and freedom. In this year, we must be rededicated to the pledge we have already taken of each one of us doing our utmost to build a democratic, secular and just society. That will be the most befitting homage that a grateful nation can pay to its martyrs.
To all those known and unknown patriots who had laid down their lives for the freedom of their country, let this volume be dedicated.
This volume is the second, in the “Who’s who of Indian Martyrs” series being brought out by the Ministry of Education and Social Welfare in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs. It contains the short biographical-sketches mainly of those patriots who sacrificed their lives outside the territory of British India. The Indian freedom fighters, as is well-known, gave a new dimension to our national movement when they set up centres of agitation, not merely in French Chandernagore and Pondicherry, but also in various foreign countries, such as Burma, Thailand, Malaya, China, Japan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, the U.S.S.R., Germany, France, the United kingdom, Canada and the U.S.A., The rigours of oppression and the ruthless suppression of all forms of agitation in India made the revolutionaries think of the advantage of having pockets of resistance abroad, where it would be possible to organise the local Indian residents and send men, money and materials to the embattled comrades at home. This also provided the opportunity of exploring the possibilities in enlisting foreign help for the cause of the country’s liberation. Mere escape from the cruel penal law was far from their thoughts. Realising that detention or death sentence would only cut short their individual contribution to the movement for liberation, they very often went into voluntary exile to fulfil their sacred mission. Life in exile meant much privation and suffering. The machinations of the British rulers and the vicissitudes of fortune often made them fugitives seeking political asylum in one country after another. No danger or privation could, however, extinguish the fire of freedom which had been kindled in their hearts during their early youth. In the galaxy of these fire brand patriots shine forth a few like the pioneer Shyamaji Krishna Varma, the scholar-revolutionary Lala Hardayal and the arch-rebel Rash Behari Bose.
The most well organised group of Indian freedom fighters were the soldiers of the Indian National Army which launched an armed attack against the British during the Second World War. Under the inspiring leadership of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, the I.N.A. succeeded in getting a foothold in the Andaman Islands where they hoisted, although temporarily, the flag of the Provisional Government of Free India. The brave men of the I.N.A. carried the fight up to Imphal and Kohima on India’s eastern frontier (Manipur and Nagaland). Bad luck in the form of the relentless monsoon rains and lack of air and logistics support from their Japanese allies, however, forced them to fall back in the face of superior enemy forces. The defeat of Japan destroyed all chances of continuing the war of liberation. It must, however, be said that they never shrank from making the supreme sacrifice for the sake of their motherland on the soil of India and in the teaming malarial forests of Burma and Malaya. It must be said that the sketchy and incomplete information about the I.N.A. martyrs included in this volume does scant justice to the gallant deeds of this great band of patriots. It is largely due to the short time at our disposal for the collection of material and the difficulty of access in records more than twenty-five years after the I.N.A. was disbanded some of the material was collected by the Chief Editor from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in the course of his three-week visit to these areas. It may be noted with some satisfaction that -these martyrs have for the first time been given their due place in an official book of reference.
Another, group of patriots included in this volume consists of those who lost their lives in the movements for the establishment of responsible government in the former princely States which comprised thirty-five per cent of the total area before the Partition of 1947 and accounted for no less than one fifth of India’s total population. When India won her freedom on August 15, 1947, and ceased to be a British dependency, the stupendous problem of transfer of power to the people in the Princely States and their integration with democratic India became very acute. In view of the tremendous problems involved and the unsettled conditions at that time, the story of “merger” and “integration” of the States with the rest of India has been rightly acclaimed as “the world’s biggest bloodless revolution.” Events might as well have taken a different turn had not the States’ peoples and their leaders kept the flame of struggle alight with their sacrifices. Since its inception in 1927, the All-India States People’s Conference, the principal organisation of the people in the States, had been working hand in hand with the Indian National Congress which fully endorsed the demand of the States’ people for responsible government. Fortified by British ‘Paramountcy’, the rulers in the States generally refused to share their power with the people and ruthlessly suppressed their movements for political reforms. The people in the Princely States, from Jammu and Kashmir in the far north to Travancore and Cochin in the extreme south remained steadfast to their ideals and did not flinch even when they had to lay down their lives. The movements in the States gathered momentum with the lapse of British Paramountcy and hundreds of people lost their lives in the struggle for merger with India which offered the sole opportunity for them to enjoy equality, liberty, fraternity and justice in full measure.
When the struggle for independence started in India, most of the political leaders ignored the enclaves that were in the possession of the French and the Portuguese. As out great leader, Jawaharlal Nehru, had said; “We took it for granted that when British rule ceases in India, the other enclaves would also be freed. We never thought that there was any difficulty about them. And so, when independence came, our thoughts went to these enclaves French and Portuguese.” Although cut off from the mainstream of India’s political life, the people in these enclaves did not lag behind in asserting their right to freedom or in sacrificing their lives when faced with brutal repression by the foreign rulers. As a result of negotiations with the French authorities, the Government of India succeeded soon after independence, in liberating the French enclaves. The Portuguese colonialists, however, obstinately refused to see the writing on the wall and clung to the enclaves which they claimed to be an organic part of their empire. The result was an intensification of the liberation movement in Goa, Daman and Diu. Besides the native people of these territories, a number of satyagrahis from India also took a prominent part in their liberation struggle. As the hour of freedom drew near, the repression of the Portuguese rulers took a savage form and claimed the lives of a large number of freedom fighters. These martyrs of the liberation movement in the former Portuguese possessions (as also a few from the French possessions) have been included in this Volume.
The collection of biographical data of those Indian patriors who died in exile, as well as those of I.N.A. martyrs, posed a stupendous problem. The record of their activities in the official archives of various countries are so widely dispersed that it was almost impossible to collect more than what may be called a bare outline of their lives and labours.
We would like to take note of the historic event of the liberation of Bangladesh which came about while this volume was in the press. Readers are requested to read Bangladesh in place of “East Pakistan”, wherever mentioned in this volume. It was not possible to make this change at the late stage of printing.
In the preparation of this volume, we received the willing cooperation of a large member of official bodies and organisations, of the relations and descendants of the martyrs and of the Project Officers in the States and Union Territories who collected and supplied to us authentic information about the martyrs hailing from their respective regions. We express our deep appreciation of their initiative and help in the publication of this work of national importance. We record our deep sense of sorrow at the sad demise of two of our Project Officers- Shri N.R. Khadgawat (Rajasthan) and Prof P.K.K. Menon (Kerala).
Among those who supplied us the photographs and the bio-data of those martyrs who died in Goa’s liberation movement, I would like to especially acknowledge my indebtedness to Shri V.N. Lavande, President of the Azad Gomantak Dal, Goa. Our thanks are due to the Central I.N.A. Enquiry and Relief Committee, an organisation of former I.N.A. soldiers, which gave its unstinted cooperation and made available a large quantity of material about the martyrs of the Indian National Army.
I would also like to record my gratitude to the large number of Indian and foreign friends who gave all help and co-operation to me during my visit to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore for collecting material about the I.N.A. martyrs and patriots of the Indian liberation movement in South-East Asia. In this connection, I would like to make particular mention of Dr. Tun Sambhandhan, Minister for P.WD. & Posts, Government of Malaysia; Prof Ungku Abdul Aziz, Vice-Chancellor, University of Malaya; Dr. Arasatatnam, Professor of History and Dr. S. Singaravelu, Department of Indian Studies, University of Malaya; Shri K.c. Nair, Indian High Commissioner in Malaysia; Shri S. Kanagasabai of the Indian High Commission in Malaysia; Giani Trilochan Singh, Editor, Malaya Samachar and Shri Kuppuswamy, Editor, Tamil Daily, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Mrs. A. Nahappan of Kuala Lumbur; Shri P.P. Narayanan, General Secretary; National Union of Plantation Workers and Shri Chatar Singh, (formerly of the Indian National Army), Kuala Lumpur, Malayasia; Dr. (Mrs.) Lakshmiah of Kuala Lumpur, Shri Prem Bhatia, High Commissioner of India, Singapore; Shri G. Bhowmick, First Secretary, Indian High Commission, Singapore; Prof. Joseph Silverstein. Institute of South-East Asian Studies, Singapore; Mrs. H. Anuar, Director, National Archives and Records, Singapore; Shri G. Murugaiyan of Singapore; Prof. Aroom Sorathesn, Rector, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Prof. M.L. Chircayu Navavongsa, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok; The Librarian, National Library, Bangkok; Prof. M.C. Subhadradis Diskul, Silpakorn University, Bangkok; Dr. Tej Bunnag, Honorary Librarian, the Siam Society, Bangkok; Shri S. N. Tripathi, First Secretary, Indian Embassy; Thailand; Shri Harbans Lal, Honorary Secretary. Thai-Bharat Cultural Lodge, Bangkok; Shri Vashi T. Parswani, Secretary, Indian Chamber of Commerce, Bangkok; Shri Krishan Lal Matta (ex-member of the Bal Sena, Indian National Army), and Shri H.B. Kapasi, Bangkok.
The publication of this volume has been made possible due mainly to the keen interest evinced and encouragement given by the Minister of Education, Shri Siddhartha Sankar Ray; the Minister of State for Education. Prof. S. Nurul Hasan, the Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Shri T.P. Singh and the Joint Education Adviser (Culture) Shri A.B. Chandiramani.
The imposition of British rule and a ruthless policy of imperialist exploitation created an explosive situation in India around the middle of the 19th century. Large bodies of Indian soldiers serving under the British East India Company spearheaded an uprising which soon turned into a popular revolt against alien domination in many parts of the country. The movement received support from several of the dispossessed Indian rulers, some of whom also saw in it a welcome opportunity to restore the old order. Whatever the causes of the Revolt may have been, and there were many, the fact remains that in this armed resistance to British rule, thousands of our countrymen perished on the battlefields and many more lost their lives in the massacres that followed. Innumerable patriots were hanged on the gallows or blown to death with cannons, very often without trial. These heroes of the unsuccessful struggle failed in their immediate objective, but they succeeded in ample measure in showing to the British and to the world at large that our people would not acquiesce in foreign domination of their land and that no sacrifice and suffering was too much to endure for the sake of the country's freedom.
The Great Revolt of 1857 is an outstanding landmark in the evolution of our national struggle for independence. It inspired revolutionary ideas and action among later generations and strengthened their determination to carry on the struggle against heavy odds until freedom was regained. The spirit of sacrifice, communal harmony and unity of purpose which largely prevailed during that terrible period of trial through blood, tears and suffering are needed even more today when were are engaged in the exciting but formidable task of building our nation in accordance with the cherished ideals of secularism, democracy, socialism and commonweal.
The present volume in the series contains biographical sketches of only some of the martyrs of the Great Revolt of 1857. Lack of information prevents us from acknowledging here thousands of other patriots whose names may remain unknown, but whose sacrifices in the cause of our freedom are no less precious and deserving of our homage.
The publication of this volume brings to an end the three-volume series of the "Who's who of Indian Martyrs" which was taken up in December 1968 by the Ministry of Education and Social Welfare in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs. The two earlier volumes contained the short biographical sketches of those patriots who were hanged or killed in the course of the national struggle for freedom after 1857 upto 1947 as well as in the movement for establishment of responsible governments in the erstwhile princely states. The martyrs of the Indian National Army and all those persons who made the supreme sacrifice in the struggle for the liberation of the former French and Portuguese possessions in our country were also included in the earlier volumes. This third volume deals exclusively with the martyrs of 1857.
As it well known, the so-called 'mutiny' of the Indian soldiers of the British army in 1857 very soon turned into a great revolt of the people under the inspiring leadership of a few dispossessed Indian rulers of the time and their able lieutenants. This might upsurge of the people engulfed the regions comprising the present Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and also parts of Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and eastern India. Thousands of patriots lost their lives in direct confrontations with the enemy troops. A considerable number perished on the gallows or were blown to death by cannon fire with or without any trial.
It has been a most difficult task to collect the bio-data of the martyrs of 1857. The search for material was rendered quite frustrating by the lapse of more than a century in time. The victors did not care to preserve in their archives the exploits of their opponents and the records of the vanquished patriotic forces mostly perished with them. It is only by diligent and laborious research among the non-official archives that we could come across the bio- data of the majority of the martyrs of 1857 included in this volume. It is true that the number of patriots killed, hanged, imprisoned for life or deported during 1857-59 on the Indian side would greatly exceed the entries included in this volume. Even so, we have been able, within the limited time at our disposal, to make a mention of many unknown freedom fighters of the time who did not receive and mention in the reference books published so far. This saga of a brave people's desperate struggle against foreign domination has been referred to as the "Sepoy Mutiny" by British authors and extolled by Indian nationalist writers as the "First War of India's Independence". In the collection of Material. We received unstinted cooperation from our Project Officers who took painstaking care to check the data before passing the material on to us. Our Zonal Editors consulted the official and non-official archives in Delhi and, whenever necessary, undertook detailed study of the data supplied by private agencies or individuals and Project Officers before undertaking the preparation of the manuscript. In spite of all the care exercised in collecting the material and writing the entries, there may, perhaps, be some errors of inexactitude in the entries which it was impossible to avoid.
We have given in the appendix of this volume short notes on some of the important political movements in which the martyrs included in Volumes I and II of the "Who's Who of Indian Martyrs" took part. I hope these notes, however, brief, will give readers a fair background of the noble ideals which inspired the patriots to sacrifice their lives in the struggle against foreign rule.
I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Shri Y.B. Chavan, Minister of Finance, for his keen interest in this project. Our thanks are also due to the Ministry of Education, Social Welfare and Culture, Prof. S. Nurul Hasan, Shri L.D.N. Sahi, Secretary, Ministry of Education and Social Welfare and. Shri Mohan Mukerji, Additional Secretary, Department of Culture for their guidance and constant encouragement.
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