PM remembers Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Chandra Shekhar Azad on their birth anniversary
- The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has remembered Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Chandra Shekhar Azad on their birth anniversary.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak was an Indian social reformer and freedom activist. He was one of the prime architects of modern India and probably the strongest advocates of Swaraj or Self Rule for India.
- His famous declaration “Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it” served as an inspiration for future revolutionaries during India’s struggle for freedom.
- The British Government termed him as the “Father of Indian Unrest” and his followers bequeathed upon him the title of ‘Lokmanya’ meaning he who is revered by the people.
- Tilak was a brilliant politician as well as a profound scholar who believed that independence is the foremost necessity for the well being of a nation.
Indian National Congress
- Gangadhar Tilak joined the Indian National Congress in 1890. He soon started vocalizing his strong opposition to the moderate views of the party on self-rule.
- He maintained that simple constitutional agitation in itself was futile against the British. This subsequently made him stand against the prominent Congress leader, Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
- He wanted an armed revolt to broom-away the British. Following the partition of Bengal by Lord Curzon, Tilak wholeheartedly supported the Swadeshi (Indigenous) movement and Boycott of British goods.
- But his methods also raised bitter controversies within the Indian National Congress (INC) and the movement itself.
- Due to this fundamental difference in outlook, Tilak and his supporters came to be known as the extremist wing of Indian National Congress Party.
- Tilak’s endeavours were supported by fellow nationalists Bipin Chandra Pal of Bengal and Lala Lajpat Rai of Punjab. The trio came to be popularly referred to as the Lal-Bal-Pal.
- In the 1907 national session of the Indian National Congress, a massive trouble broke out between the moderate and extremist sections of the Indian National Congress Party. As a result of which, the Congress split into two factions.
- During 1896, an epidemic of bubonic plague broke out in Pune and the adjacent regions and the British employed extremely rigorous measures to contain it.
- Under directives from Commissioner W. C. Rand, the police and the army invaded private residences, violated personal sanctity of individuals, burned personal possessions and prevented individuals to move in and out of the city. Tilak protested against the oppressive nature of the British efforts and wrote provocative articles on it in his newspapers.
- His article inspired the Chapekar brothers and they carried out assassination of Commissioner Rand and Lt. Ayerst on June 22, 1897. As a result of this, Tilak was imprisoned for 18 months on Sedition charges for inciting murder.
- During 1908-1914, Bal Gangadhar Tilak spent had to undergo six years of rigorous imprisonment in Mandalay Jail, Burma. He openly supported the revolutionaries Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki’s efforts to assassinate Chief Presidency Magistrate Douglas Kingsford in 1908. He continued to write during his years of imprisonment and the most prominent of which is Gita Rahasya.
- Following his growing fame and popularity, the British government also tried to stop the publication of his newspapers.
Tilak and All India Home Rule League
- Tilak returned to India in 1915 when the political situation was fast changing under the shadow of the World War I. There was unprecedented celebration after Tilak was released. He then returned to politics with a mellowed down outlook.
- Deciding to re-unite with his fellow nationalists, Tilak founded the All India Home Rule League in 1916 with Joseph Baptista, Annie Besant and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. By April 1916, the league had 1400 members that increased to 32,000 by 1917.
- He rejoined the Indian National Congress but could not bring about reconciliation between the two opposite-minded factions.
- Towards his nationalistic goals, Bal Gangadhar Tilak published two newspapers -‘Mahratta’ (English) and ‘Kesari’ (Marathi).
- Both the newspapers stressed on making the Indians aware of the glorious past and encouraged the masses to be self reliant. In other words, the newspaper actively propagated the cause of national freedom.
- He was a great reformer and throughout his life he advocated the cause of women education and women empowerment.
- Tilak proposed Grand celebrations on ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ and ‘Shivaji Jayanti’.
- He envisioned these celebrations inciting a sense of unity and inspiring nationalist sentiment among Indians.
- It is a sheer tragedy that for his allegiance towards extremism, Tilak and his contribution were not given the recognition, he actually deserved.
Chandra Shekhar Azad
- Chandra Shekhar Azad was the quintessential firebrand revolutionary who fiercely craved independence for his country.
- A contemporary of Bhagat Singh, Azad never quite received the same levels of adoration for his deeds, yet his actions were no less heroic.
- The Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre took place in 1919 and the brutal deed of British oppression had reverberating effect on the Indian Nationalist movement.
- The blatant disregard exhibited by the British towards basic human rights and unnecessary use of violence on a group of unarmed and peaceful people, incited a burst of hatred from the Indians directed towards the British Raj.
- The nation was gripped by this anti-British euphoria and Chandra Shekhar was part of a group of young revolutionaries who dedicated their lives towards a single goal – securing freedom for his beloved motherland by driving the British away from India.
Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) & Azad
- He joined the HRA and concentrated his efforts on collecting funds for the association. He planned and executed daring attempts to rob government treasury to raise funds in order to further their revolutionary activities.
- Ram Prasad Bismil conceived the idea of looting a train carrying treasury money to fund acquiring of weapons for revolutionary activities.
- Bismil had noticed several security loopholes in trains carrying treasury money and a suitable plan was devised.
- They targeted the No. 8 Down train travelling from Shahjahanpur to Lucknow and intercepted it at Kakori. They stopped the train by pulling the chain, overpowered the guard and took 8000 rupees from the guard cabin. In the ensuing gunfight between the armed guards and the revolutionaries, one passenger died. The government declared this as murder and launched an intense manhunt to round up the involved revolutionaries. Azad evaded arrest and carried on revolutionary activities from Jhansi.
- Azad took a long detour and finally reached Kanpur where the headquarters of the HRA was based.
- There he met other firebrands like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.
- Pumped with renewed enthusiasm, he reorganised the HRA and renamed it as Hindustan Socialist Republican Association or HSRA together with Bhagat Singh.
- On October 30, 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai led a peaceful protest against the Simon Commission at Lahore. Police Superintendent James Scott ordered lathi strike to thwart the advancement of the march.
- Lalaji was severely injured in the process and died on November 17, 1928 as a result of the wounds.
- Azad and his peers held the police superintendent responsible for Lala’s death and they vowed to extract revenge.
- Together with Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru, he plotted the assassination of Scott.
- On December 17, 1928, the plan was executed but a case of mistaken identity led to the killing of John P. Saunders, an Assistant Superintendent of Police.
- The HSRA claimed responsibility for the event the next day and the involved people shot to the top of the British’s most wanted list.
- Bhagat Singh was arrested following his demonstration in the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi on April 8, 1929.
- When the HSRA bomb factories in Lahore and Saharanpur were busted, some of the members turned approver for the state. As a result around 21 members were arrested including Rajguru and Sukhdev.
- Azad along with 29 others were charged in the Lahore Conspiracy Case Trial, but he was among the few who the British authorities were unable to capture.