“tu kitni ummeedein ley aaya hai, rey, mere Des, marr ke jaise tu jee aaya hai, aye mere des,
aazaadi ki kahaniyaan hai badi zalim, tu kitne zulm sahe aaya hai, aye mere Des…”
These words might sum-up the feeling of a zillion people in India, today. The fight for freedom saw whole of India united for a single cause. Our generation that breathes in free India will never know what it feels to battle for our own land. Every single battle fought at every corner of our country even today echoes volumes of their bravery. Although there have been countless battles and incidents that have all contributed to India’s independence, today let us commemorate some events that shaped India’s future.
The Uprising of 1857 started a revolution that eventually gave India its Independence. Termed as the ‘First War of Independence,’ the Uprising supposedly led to the construction this prison. The construction was started in 1896 and completed in 1906. The Britishers imprisoned many freedom fighters and tortured them in this very cell. Veer Savarkar, Batukeshwar Dutt, and Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi among others were imprisoned here. Alike Jallianwala Bagh massacre, this is one of the muskiest chapters of pre-independent India. Today, the Cellular Jail serves as a National Memorial Monument.
‘Angrezon Bharat Chodo’, ‘Quit India’, these are now heard only during the fancy dress competitions held in school with tiny tots dressing up as young freedom fighter- Gandhi. This slogan was born in August Kranti Maidan, then known as Gowalia Tank, Mumbai when Mahatma Gandhi delivered the famous Quit India speech. On August 8, 1942 he launched this speech and had the entire India singing the same tune to force the British to leave India. 5 years after this event India got Independence
The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre is deemed to be one of the most brutal tragedies in India’s struggle for Independence. On April 13th, 1919, thousands of Indians of various ethnic backgrounds gathered at Jallianwala Bagh to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi. Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer commanded the British Indian Army Soldiers to open fire at the unarmed group consisting of men, women, children and even infants. There was no escape for those who were trapped as the main entrance was blocked by the troops. It is speculated that more than 1500 Indians died that day, although the actual death toll remains unconfirmed. Today, the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial has a stone lantern at each corner with the following words inscribed in Urdu, Hindi, English and Punjabi: ‘In memory of martyrs, 13 April 1919.’
Occupying the centre seat during the years 1916 – 1920 of India’s struggle for independence was Champaran, a relatively small district in Bihar. In fact, the Champaran Satyagraha was the first protest initiated against the tyrannical British Rule. Unbelievable but true!! The Champaran Satyagrah was against the forceful cultivation of indigo and a high tax levy which the farmers had to bear despite famine like conditions in Champaran. One can very well imagine the chaotic conditions which made its residents stand up against the British rule in a non violent Satyagraha under the aegis of Mahatma Gandhi. Today, a 48-foot tall stone pillar stands there, designed by the famous Shantiniketan artist Nandalal Bose.
The famous Lal Quilla of Delhi was once home to the Mughal family when they ruled India. Since then it has become a proud symbol of Indian heritage so much so that the first Prime Minister of India- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru delivered the first speech of free India on Independence Day here and hoisted the tricolour flag for the very first time, too. Over 67 years of our independence this landmark has become such integral part of our freedom story that each year the Indian PM delivers a speech here. It’s a must visit place because it’s one of those few Indian monuments who has seen India through all its phases- pre British rule, Independence struggle and post Independence glory.