Unsung Heroes

The unsung heroes of freedom struggle

Many people came together to fight for the country’s independence. However, not much has been written about them.

Here are a few whom we never knew had struggled and sacrificed in their life to give India her independence.

Tirupur Kumaran

Tirupur is a town near Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu and it was Kumaran’s home town. In 1932, Kumaran organised a protest march against the British. He was carrying the Indian National Flag, which was banned by the British. This enraged British officials who then began assaulting the protesters, including Kumaran, insisting he put the flag down.

Kumaran held on to the Indian Flag even after being repeatedly beaten, He was mortally wounded and even when he fell into a faint before dying, he clung on to the Indian flag ensuring it did not fall to the ground. This incident gained him the title Kodi Kaatha Kumaran — Kumaran, the saviour of the national flag.

Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay

Born on April 3, 1903, she was a social reformer and freedom fighter. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was best known for being the driving force behind the renaissance of Indian handicraft, hand loom, and theatre. She also fought for the upliftment of the socio-economic standard of Indian women by pioneering the co-operative movement. However, her contribution during the freedom struggle is not to be missed.

Married at 20, she was in London when she heard of Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement in 1923. She promptly returned to India, to join the Seva Dal, a Gandhian organisation set up to promote social uplifting.

In 1926, she met Margaret E. Cousins, the founder of All India Women’s Conference (AIWC), and was inspired to run for the Madras Provincial Legislative Assembly. She was also the first Indian woman to be arrested when she entered the Bombay Stock Exchange to sell packets of salt. She spent close to a 
year in prison.

Khudiram Bose

Bose’s tale of valour is one that simultaneously invokes pride as well as pity for perhaps the same reason. He was 18 years old when he was sentenced to death for his role in the country’s freedom struggle.

In 1908, Bose was appointed to kill Muzzaffarpur district magistrate Kingsford, the Chief Magistrate of Calcutta Presidency. Kingston had become unpopular for passing harsh and cruel sentences on young political activists. He was also notorious for inflicting corporal punishment on them. Thus, when he was transferred to Muzaffarpur, Bose was sent to there to kill him.

On April 20, 1908, Bose threw a bomb at a carriage, believed to be carrying Kingsford, outside the European club. But the carriage was occupied by the wife and daughter of barrister Pringle Kennedy, a leading pleader at the Muzaffarpur Bar. An extra police force was deployed to find the perpetrator. Bose, in the meantime, had walked 25 miles and reached Vaini railway station. He was arrested by two officers there and hanged to death on August 11, 1908.

Peer Ali Khan

Peer Ali Khan was part of the 1857 rebellion against the British. He was born in Muhammadpur, in Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh. When he was seven he ran away and arrived in Patna where he was given shelter and refuge by a zamindar who brought him up along with his son and educated him.

The start: Peer opened a book shop in Patna, which became the meeting point for freedom fighters to make plans to overthrow the British. In fact, the book shop was the point where everyone kept in contact not only among themselves but with Indian soldiers in the British army too. Ali conducted regular campaigns against the British and became an integral part of the rebellion of 1857. While he was plotting with the soldiers of the Danapur Cantonment, two letters from them fell into British hands. They became aware of Peer Ali’s involvement.

Ali realised what had happened, planned to attack the British and gathered those interested. He collected 50 guns with the help of his co-worker, Maulvi Mehdi and distributed them among his group members.

On July 4, 1857, Ali and 33 followers were arrested. Most of them were hanged the next day without a hearing. Peer Ali was brutally tortured and cross-examined. On July 7, he was hanged.

Matangini Hazra

Hailing from Tamluk (erstwhile Midnapore) in the Bengal Presidency of British India, Matangini Hazra was a champion of the Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit India Movement. She was a force to reckon with. Born on October 19, 1870, to poor parents, she had no formal education. She was married early and was widowed at 18.

Turning point: In 1905, Hazra became actively interested in the independence movement. In 1932, she took part in the Civil Disobedience Movement and was arrested for participating in the Dandi March led by Mahatma Gandhi and breaking the Salt Act. British officials had introduced taxation on salt production, and so the walk to Dandi to make sea-salt was considered illegal. This caused resentment among people as it was the local practice in Dandi to produce salt from seawater. Hazra was imprisoned for six months in Baharampur.

A decade later, in 1942, she was a part of the Quit India Movement launched by Gandhiji, asking the British to put an end to their reign in India and leave. Hazra, who was 71 years at the time, led a procession of 6,000 supporters, mostly women volunteers, to take over the Tamluk police station. As she stepped forward, she was shot.

She eventually died from bullet wounds.


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