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70 years of Independence: Lost in history, 5 unsung heroes of India’s freedom struggle

On this Independence Day, let’s take a dig into the past to know about some of the lesser-known but equally valorous freedom fighters who made a mark in India’s history.
Written by: Abhinav Gupta New Delhi August 11, 2017 20:11 IST
Abhinav Gupta

India’s Independence has seen the blood and sweat of millions of countrymen who came out to fight the British rule and did not bother to lay down their lives to break the shackles of oppression. 

While we all know how Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Rani Laxmi Bai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Subhas Chandra Bose and Sardar Patel paved the way for Independence, there are many others who contributed as much as others but are relegated to history. 

On this Independence Day, let’s take a dig into the past to know about some of the lesser-known but equally valorous freedom fighters who made a mark in India’s history. 

Avadh Bihari

A nationalist and freedom fighter, Avadh Bihari was involved in revolutionary activities against British rule and fought against them from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. He was associated with Ram Bihari Bose and planned to throw a bomb on Lord Hardinge, who served as the Viceroy and Governor-General of India from 1910-1916. 

Avadh Bihari was arrested on February, 1914 and sentenced to death. He was  hanged at Ambala central jail on May 1, 1915. 

Khudiram Bose

Defying all odds and terrifying British rulers, Khudiram Bose became a martyr at a tender age of 19. At the time of his hanging, he was 18 years, 7 months 11 days old. Khudiram carried out several bomb attacks on the British, the most prominent one being against Magistrate Kingsford.

Khudiram Bose was sentenced to death on August 11, 1908 on charges of bomb attacks. His last words before being hanged were, ‘Vande Matram'.

Khudiram Bose will always be remembered in the history of Indian independence as the proponent of the 'Agni Yuga' or the fiery age, an era which was characterized by young people getting involved in the fight against the British without thinking twice about their own lives.

Batukeshwar Dutt

Batukeshwar Dutt was an Indian revolutionary in the early 1900s. He is best known for having exploded a few bombs, along with Bhagat Singh, in the Central Legislative Assembly in New Delhi on 8 April 1929 to register a protest against the Trade dispute bill and raised the slogan "Inquilab Zindabad".

Batukeshwar, along with Bhagat Singh, was sentenced to transportation for life in the Delhi Assembly Bomb Case. After they were arrested, tried and imprisoned for life, he and Bhagat Singh initiated a historic hunger strike protesting against the abusive treatment of Indian political prisoners, and eventually secured some rights for them.    

It is sad that independent India did not accord him any recognition, and he spent his remaining life in penury away from political limelight, a forgotten hero.

Ram Prasad Bismil

The brave revolutionary who led the famous Kakori rail dacoity conspiracy, Ram Prasad Bismil was persecuted by an enraged British government, hunted by the police and betrayed by fellow workers. One of the founder members of the revolutionary organisation Hindustan Republican Association, Bismil was also a great poet-writer Urdu and English. 

The poem Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna is also popularly attributed to him, although some writers say that "Bismil" Azimabadi actually wrote the poem and Ram Prasad Bismil immortalized it.

Bismil was given death sentence together with Ashfaqullah Khan and two others in the Kakori case. He was hanged on December 19, 1927 at the age of 30. "Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai, Dekha hai zor kitna baaju-e-qaatil me hai", wrote Bismil, and thus ended the brave life of an Indian revolutionary.

Udham Singh

Udham Singh is remembered for his involvement in the assassination of General Michael O’Dwyer – the man responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. 

Shaheed  Udham Singh witnessed the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre and took an oath to avenge the killings. He fought many odds before he could reach his final goal of killing Michael O'Dwyer 21 years after the massacre happened.

Gandhi and Nehru both condemned his act at the time. Gandhi remarked that, "the outrage has caused me deep pain. I regard it as an act of insanity...I hope this will not be allowed to affect political judgement".

Nehru wrote in his newspaper National Herald: "Assassination is regretted but it is earnestly hoped that it will not have far-reaching repercussions on the political future of India".

Subhash Chandra Bose was perhaps the only leader of the independence movement who approved of Udham Singh's action.

The British government labelled him as one of "India's earliest Marxists". On July 31, 1940 he was hanged at Pentonville Prison for the assassination of Michael O'Dwyer.