In our 70 years of independence, India has several achievements to its credit. We built a modern economy, remained a democracy and lifted millions out of poverty. Our transport systems, especially the railways, are a miracle in themselves. Can you imagine all that it would take to run a system that links 8500 railway stations in a network that runs 3000 kilometers north to south and east to west!
We have built schools and higher education institutes to be proud of, have adapted to modern technology and even reached Mars on a shoe-string budget!
To celebrate this momentous occasion, we bring you stories of unsung heroes who fought for the rights we all enjoy today
- Mayandi Bharathi
Mayandi Bharti, at 97, is Madurai’s oldest living freedom fighter. His life changed at 14, when, from the seat of his classroom window, he saw some policemen beat up some citizens who set fire to a British cloth shop. He grew restless. He excused himself from the class, emptied his bag of books and filled it with stones. He then ran towards the action and, along with the others, pelted the policemen with stones. “I got beaten up, too!”. he recalls with a smile.
After this incident, he became a regular at every rally that popularised Swadeshi goods and khadi and boycotted collection of war funds. He went to prison numerous times between 1940 and 1946 and met several leaders of freedom movement including Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar, K.P.Janaki Ammal, N.M.R.Subburaman, Sasivarna Thevar, Sitaramaiah, M.R.Venkatraman and A.Vaidyanatha Iyer who further inspired him.
Madurai, too, loves him. Since the last five decades, he has been the guest of honour at the Gandhi Museum, where, on August 9, a function is held to celebrate the anniversary of the Quit India Movement. He still attends the city’s Independence Day celebrations every year.
Hats off to his indefatigable spirit at 97! May we have examples like him to follow in our lives always!
Source of story – The Untold Story of A Freedom Figher by Soma Basu. http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/the-untold-story-of-a-freedom-fighter/article5022232.ece
- Kaneez Haider
Kaneez Haider was one of the very few women who did their bit to liberate India along with fighting for women’s rights. Today, at 90 years of age, she recalls, “In our culture, we girls, in those days, were not allowed to leave the house without a burkha. However, the freedom wave was such that I couldn’t confine myself inside the four walls of my house”. Along with friends, in spite of her parents’ disapproval, she would collect Muharram and Eid funds from the community and gift to the workers of the revolutionary parties.
On the day Jawaharlal Nehru declared India’s Independence, Kaneez along with her neighbours lit up crackers, sang patriotic and folk songs and lit umpteen lamps in the neighbourhood. Her most important work started after we won our independence, as she worked under Mrs Indira Gandhi to spread awareness about voting in various communities. To this day, her eyes shine with brilliance and tears as she discusses her love for our motherland. Inspiring indeed.
Source – Rewind: Tales of India’s Freedom Struggle by Tarun Khanna http://zeenews.india.com/exclusive/rewind-tales-from-india%E2%80%99s-freedom-struggle_1456741.html
- Rani Gaidinliu
Rani Gaidinliu 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. She fought for the freedom struggle in Manipur as well. She was arrested at 16 and sentenced to life imprisonment. She was released in 1947 and awarded a Padma Bhushan as well.
Like the three above, there are so many others whose names have been lost to obscurity. Let’s work harder to honour their memories, learn from them and work towards being united in minds and hearts. Jai Hind!