October 2 is a red letter day for all Indians as it is the birthday of the father of the nation, our beloved Bapu, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.
It was largely due to his tireless struggles, negotiations and large scale mass mobilizations that compelled the colonial British government to leave India after the Second World War.
However, the Independence of India was not solely the result of Bapu’s efforts and struggles. There were hundreds and thousands of other patriots who laid their whole lives to achieve the goal of freedom.
Some of them followed the non-violent path of Bapu while the others strictly adhered to violent means in dealing with the foreign rulers. Today on the occasion of Bapu’s birthday, we remember some of his dissident comrades fighting for the same goal.
1. Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Senior to Gandhi in freedom movement, Tilak was the grandfather of Indian extremism. He along with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal constituted the famous trio of Lal-Bal-Pal propagating extremist means to achieve freedom.
Tilak’s works were mainly concentrated in the modern Maharashtra area. He was active in the last decades of the 19th and the first decades of the 20th century.
He was charged by the British government with Sedition for his inflammatory speeches and writings. Before his death in 1920, he practically paved the way for the Gandhian movement which was going to sweep the country after the 1920s.
2. Chittaranjan Das
This Calcutta-based lawyer was the president of the Indian National Congress when Gandhi launched his first country-wide mass mobilization in the name of Non-cooperation Movement in 1920.
Though Das approved the Gandhian programme of Non-cooperation and also took active part in the movement, he had significant ideological differences with Gandhi.
It was on his insistence that Gandhi was compelled to include more radical demands such as boycott of foreign goods and business institutions in the Non-cooperation agenda.
After the failure of the Non-cooperation movement, Das and Moti Lal Nehru (father of independent India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru) founded the Swarajya Party and took part in the provincial elections.
Their intention was to obstruct the working of the colonial governmental machinery from within the provincial legislative assemblies. And they were quite successful in this attempt as has been recorded by history.
3. Subhas Chandra Bose
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was one of the closest disciples of Chittaranjan Das. Ever since he had denounced the ICS, he was restless in his search for the way to attain India’s independence.
Unlike Gandhi, the Netaji did not hesitate to take up arms against the British.
The result was the creation of the Indian National Army during the Second World War. It fought valiantly against the British and American Army in the Burma front in an attempt to enter India and free it from the British rule.
4. Bhagat Singh
The young martyr Bhagat Singh was also a believer in the path of armed struggle against the oppressor. Later his ideologies took a definite Leftist turn and he contributed to the development of socialist thought in India.
Singh was executed by the British on a charge of the murder of a British official. As a young revolutionary martyr, Singh reincarnated as a hero in the widely circulated folk tales in Northern India.
5. Surya Sen and the IRA
Surya Sen was a leader of a group of revolutionary terrorists known as Indian Republic Army based in Chittagong.
In 1930, Sen and his followers conducted an attack on the British forces stationed in Chittagong in guerrilla style and drove them out.
However, the British came back with numerical superiority and the revolutionaries had to retreat. Sen was arrested by the British and executed in 1934.