India became a free nation at midnight of August 14, 1947; prior to which for more than 200 years the country had been under the British rule. Like any other country that was under the colonial rule, India too experiences a series of events that led to its freddom and deserves to be remembered and honoured.
Jawaharlal Nehru in his famous speech Tryst With Destiny, had said, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take a pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.”
As we celebrate the 68th Anniversary of Independence Day, we recall the unforgettable events that gave birth to a new era of deliverance from the British rule.
1857 Revolt / Sepoy Mutiny
The Sepoy Mutiny, also known as India’s First War of Independence, started in Meerut on May 10, 1857. It was an attempt to unite India against the cruel suppression by the invading British. The immediate cause of the revolt was the use of grease, derived from beef and pork, in the rifle cartridges, which offended the Hindu and Muslim sepoys. The revolt failed in 1858 due to lack of leadership; but nevertheless, it was a remarkable event in Indian history as it encouraged Indians to rise up against the British.
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
After the 1857 revolt, there were several unsuccessful attempts in rising up against the British. In 1919, the Rowlatt Act was passed by the British to suppress public uprising. On April 13, thousands of people gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi. General Dyer, suspecting an uprising, opened fire at the venue killing more than 300 people and injuring about a thousand.
Jalianwala Bagh Massacre’ catalyzed the militant movement against British rule and paved the way for Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement in 1920. This movement was a non-violent way of resisting British occupation. It began with a boycott on British goods, educational institutions, and justice systems, returning titles and giving up government jobs. The movement was met with widespread support but had to be called off as violence erupted in February 1922, at Chaurichaura, Uttar Pradesh.
Salt Satyagraha / Dandi March
On March 12, 1930, Gandhi marched from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, in Gujarat, to protest against British salt tax. It garnered widespread support with many Indians joining Gandhi and refused to pay taxes.
Quit India movement
In 1942, India was promised a Dominion Status with the right of secession but not immediate transfer of power. So on August 8 1942, the Indian National Congress adopted the historic “Quit India Resolution”. Gandhi stressed, “We shall either free India or die in the attempt. We shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery.” The nation rose up in protest; there were revolts all around India with the slogan of “British Quit India”. All the prominent leaders were later arrested.
As we look to grow in a free Inida, let’s do it with a sense of deep gratitude for those who fought during the struggle.
Valentina Telien Kom
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