We remember and honour our freedom fighters as best as we can. But there are many people and their contributions that we have not even heard of. Here is remembering them too and applauding their immense sacrifice in helping us live in a free country.
The remembrance of our freedom struggle involves a lot of nostalgia – romanticized and commemorated by the country as best as possible. But there are a few names which have been lost over the years. Names which do not enter the hyped mainstream media responses on freedom fighters; which are subaltern and marginalized. Here is a list of some of those names, of people who formed a very important part of our freedom struggle and are yet, not as well known as a few others.
1. Rani Gaidinliu
She was a Naga spiritual and political leader who led a revolt against the British rule in India and was also staunchly against the conversion of Naga religious practitioners to Christianity. At the age of 13, she joined the Heraka religious movement that her cousin had initiated, which later turned into a political movement that tried to drive the British away from Manipur and nearby Naga regions. She was 16 at the time of her arrest, and was put into life imprisonment by the British. Five years later, in 1937, Nehru visited and promised to get her out and gave her the title ‘Rani’. She was released in 1947 after which she continued to work for the community. She was also awarded a Padma Bhushan.
2. Tirot Sing
He was one of the chiefs of Khasi people in early 18th century and fought against British attempts to take over control of the Khasi hills. He died on 17 July, 1835, fighting the British.
He led the ill-fated “Rampa Rebellion” of 1922–24, during which a band of tribal leaders and other sympathizers fought against the British Raj. He was referred to as “Manyam Veerudu” (Hero of the Jungles) by the local people. B
4. Pingali Venkayya
5. Tanguturi Prakasam
A politician and a freedom fighter, he was first the Chief Minister of the Madras Presidency and then the Chief Minister of the Andhra state.
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6. Veerapandiya Kattabomman
He was a courageous Palyekar chieftain from Tamil Nadu in the 18th century. He waged a war with the British sixty years before the Indian War of Independence (the 1857 rebellion) occurred in the Northern parts of India. He was captured and hanged in 1799 CE. His fort was destroyed and his wealth was looted by the British army. He basically protested against the sovereignty of the East India Company and refused to pay their taxes.
The trio is mostly remembered together for their attack on the Dalhousie Square in Kolkata. Their full names are Badal Gupta, Dinesh Gupta and Benoy Basu and all of them hailed from Bengal. Col N.S. Simpson, the Inspector General of Prisons, was infamous for brutally oppressing prisoners. The revolutionaries decided not only to murder him, but also to strike terror among British officials by launching an attack on the Secretariat Building – the Writers’ Building in Dalhousie Square, Kolkata. The three of them were dressed as Europeans when they went and killed Simpson, but they did not wish to get arrested. So, Badal consumed poison, while the other two shot themselves using revolvers. The Dalhousie Square was renamed as the B.B.D. Bagh after them.
8. Surya Sen
9. Surendra Sai
The man died in obscurity despite protecting Western Orissa from the British rule along with a few other comrades. Eligible as the next in line to the throne of Sambalpur after the death of Maharaja Sai in 1827, he helped the lower caste tribal people in Sambalpur against the British by encouraging their language and culture development. Affectionately called Bira by the local people because of his swordsmanship, he began protesting from the age of 18 and spent some 17 years in jail after that. But he continued the protest till 1862, when he surrendered and went to jail. He spent 20 years in prison after his surrender. Also, Sambalpur was the last patch of land to be occupied by the British except for the princely state, and it is said that it was largely due to the efforts of Sai.
10. Potti Sreeramulu
He is often called the Amarjeevi – a devout follower of Gandhi and even Gandhi praised him for his fasting abilities and dedication. He spent most of his life doing humanitarian work and working for the Dalit community. He died during the fast demanding a separate linguistic state of Andhra from the Madras Presidency.
There are so many others whose names have been lost to obscurity. Let us make an effort to recognize our freedom fighters and remember their contributions. A few other names that we would like to add to the list include Kanak Lata Barua, Kushal Konwar, Piyali Phukan, Veerangana Jhankar Bai, Acharya N. G. Ranga,