When Bhabani Mahato fed the revolution

“It must have been very hard for you when your husband Baidyanath was jailed for 13 months in the Quit India movement?” I ask Bhabani Mahato in Puruliya. “Running such a large joint family and…”

“We had a large joint family,” she says. “All responsibilities were mine. I did all the chores. I took care of everything. Everything. I ran the family. I looked after everybody in 1942-43 when all those incidents happened.” Bhabani does not name the ‘incidents’. But they included, among others, the Quit India stir. And the famous September 30, 1942 attempt by freedom fighters to hoist the tricolour at 12 police stations in what was even then one of the most deprived regions of Bengal.

And so the action planned in response happened on September 30, 1942. Fully 53 days after Mahatma Gandhi’s call for the British to ‘Quit India’ at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Mumbai on August 8, 1942. Baidyanath was arrested in the crackdown and suffered in the repression that followed. He was to become a schoolteacher after Independence. Teachers back then played a key role in political mobilisation. A role that would be carried over into Independent India for some decades.

— source ruralindiaonline.org | P. Sainath | Apr 18, 2022

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7 Forgotten Western Rebels Who Fought for India’s Independence

In an interview to talk about his new book Rebels Against the Raj: Western Fighters for India’s Freedom, Ramachandra Guha explains that the seven British and American people he has chosen to write about are “seven remarkable characters”, who led “unusual, interesting, eccentric and exciting lives”.

He said they were “individuals of great courage, even recklessness”. They “embraced a country not their own and fought for its freedom”. Each of them spent time in jail fighting for India’s independence.

In a 26-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Ramachandra Guha identified a further very special reason for writing this book. “This is a world governed by paranoia and nationalist xenophobia…Narendra Modi and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh…see themselves as uniquely blessed by history and by God. No foreigner, they believe, can teach them anything. This book tell us that they can.”

— source | Karan Thapar | 14 Feb 2022

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Panimara’s foot soldiers of freedom – 2

There were battles on other fronts, too, that Panimara’s freedom fighters had to wage. Some of these were right at home.

Inspired by Gandhiji’s call against untouchability, they acted.

“One day, we marched into our Jagannath temple in this village with 400 Dalits,” says Chamaru. The Brahmins did not like it. But some of them supported us. Maybe they felt compelled to. Such was the mood of the times. The gauntiya (village chief) was managing trustee of the temple. He was outraged and left the village in protest. Yet, his own son joined us, supporting us and denouncing his father’s action.

“The campaign against British goods was serious. We wore only khadi . We wove it ourselves. Ideology was a part of it. We actually were very poor, so it was good for us.”

All the freedom fighters stuck to this practice for decades afterwards. Until their fingers could no longer spin or weave. “At 90, last year,” says Chamaru, “I thought it was time to stop.”

It all started with a Congress-inspired “training” camp held in Sambalpur in the 1930s. “This training was called ` sewa ‘ [service] but instead we were taught about life in

— source ruralindiaonline.org | P. Sainath | Jul 22, 2014

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Panimara’s foot soldiers of freedom – 1

“Take back all these petitions and tear them up,” said Chamaru. “They are not valid. This court will not entertain them.”

He was really beginning to enjoy being a magistrate.

It was August 1942 and the country was in ferment. The court in Sambalpur certainly was. Chamaru Parida and his comrades had just captured it. Chamaru had declared himself the judge. Jitendra Pradhan was his “orderly.” Purnachandra Pradhan had opted to be a peshkar or court clerk.

The capture of the court was part of their contribution to the Quit India movement.

“These petitions are addressed to the Raj,” Chamaru told the astonished gathering in the court. “We live in free India. If you want these cases considered, take them back. Re-do your petitions. Address them to Mahatma Gandhi and we’ll give them due attention.”

Sixty years later, almost to the day, Chamaru still tells the story with delight. He is now 91 years old. Jitendra, 81, is seated beside him. Purnachandra, though, is no more. They still live in Panimara village in Odisha’s Bargarh district. At the height of the freedom struggle, this village sent a surprising number of its sons and daughters to

— source ruralindiaonline.org | P. Sainath | Jul 22, 2014

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On Frontier Gandhi’s Death Anniversary

Landing in New Delhi in time for Gandhi’s birth anniversary in October 1969, Badshah Khan returned to Kabul four months later, shortly after the anniversary of Gandhi’s death. In India Badshah Khan was an unusual state guest who carried his bundle of belongings and washed his clothes himself. Affectionate in every personal relationship, he was blunt in every public utterance and also in some private conversations.

Stirred by a reminder of less petty times, many Indians asked Badshah Khan to make India his home. Shaken by the reality of Indian public life in 1969, Badshah Khan asked to be excused. On 7 October he said, ‘Even if I live in India for a hundred years, it will have no impact. No one cares here for the country or the people.’

Disappointed that India was importing food and taking aid even from Japan, he said: ‘You talk a lot but don’t know how to work. It seems as if you think that to clap, give or

— source newsclick.in | Rajmohan Gandhi | 20 Jan 2022

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Abdul Ghaffar Khan: Freedom Fighter, Gandhian, Pacifist, Muslim and Pakhtun

January is an important month for Indians. Apart from the English new year, 26 January marks the day when the Constitution was adopted, and 30 January marks the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who was shot dead by Nathuram Godse, a Hindutva fanatic. Very few remember that 20 January marks the death anniversary of another Gandhian giant whose politics rose above communalism and was singularly focussed against British imperialism’s purloining of India. He was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a.k.a. Bacha Khan and the Frontier Gandhi. He was named Badshah Khan at twenty-six by the members of his tribe when his father died.

Khan was born on 6 February 1890, two and a half months after Jawaharlal Nehru, in the village of Utmanzai, what is now a small town near Peshawar in today’s Pakistan, then British India. His father was Behram Khan, the leader of the Muhammadzai tribe who owned prosperous agricultural lands and took pride in speaking the purest accent of Pashto, allowing the tribe to remember traditions bequeathed upon them by their rich history.

Badshah Khan, too represented the best among the Pathans. As a young boy, he left his high school final exams, aspiring to join ‘The Guides’, a corps composed of Sikhs and

— source newsclick.in | Shubham Sharma | 20 Jan 2022

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Why Bengali Could Never Surpass Hindi to Become India’s Top Language

It may come as a surprise to many people, but it’s true: Bengali had a chance to be India’s top language. The idea was killed after it faced stiff resistance from no one but Bengalis themselves, the rich and powerful ones, who favoured Persian.

The Bengali-Persian quarrel may be dead, but the politics of language is very much alive and well in India even today, nearly 200 years after the earlier episode played out.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-centric Bharatiya Janata Party pushing to impose Hindi as India’s national language, linguistic chauvinism is back to being centre stage in this nation of 1.4 billion people.

The government has backed off for now in the face of strong opposition from non-Hindi speakers, who account for 75% of the country’s population, but the war still rages on.

The fight has a history going back to 1800s when the British started thinking they were going to rule India for a long time. To prepare for it, they embarked upon patching

— source thewire.in | B.Z. Khasru | 11/Dec/2021

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Barbados Breaks From the Queen

Barbados became an independent country 55 years ago in 1966 but Queen Elizabeth remained the official head of state until now. Many other former British colonies including Canada, Australia and Jamaica still have a similar arrangement with the British monarch. Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley had pushed to cut ties to the Queen saying it was time for Barbados to break from its colonial past. The move comes as calls grow for the United Kingdom to pay slavery reparations to Barbados. Ahead of the ceremony, Barbados held a National Service of Thanksgiving, where Barbados Senator and Reverend John Rogers spoke.

it was a very historic and moving occasion. In fact for me it started on Saturday, well before Monday night, when we officially opened our Revolutionary Square. It was a whole weekend of really celebrating the best of our heritage and our historical tradition. Of course, Monday night was when we installed the new president of Barbados. It was the night on which we bid farewell to British colonial rule. That was symbolized in a very concrete way when the colors, the flags of the military units, the Defense Force and the Coast Guard and the Governor-General’s colors, they were marched off of the parade ground in view of Prince Charles and to the playing of Auld Lang Syne, that old things were passing away and a new order was being installed.

So, very moving, very historic. I would say 55 years overdue. It really should have happened on the 30th of November, 1966, when Barbados became an independent country. But back then, for whatever reasons, and there are many reasons we can speculate about, we made two compromises on our constitutional sovereignty and independence. We corrected one compromise in 2005 when

— source democracynow.org | Dec 01, 2021

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Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha — Youngest Ghadar Party Hero who was Executed at Age 19

Attempts to demean, carefully erase historical achievement as a nation is the new tactic in deployment by nation’s Right-wing forces. November 16 marks 106th martyrdom of Kartar Singh Sarabha, one of the youngest heroes of nation’s freedom movement.

Born in the village of Sarabha (in Ludhiana district) in 1896, Kartar Singh was brought up with immense care and love. Having lost his father at a very tender age, his grandfather, Sardar Mangal Singh, brought him up. After his initial education at the village school, Kartar Singh took admission in the Khalsa School, Ludhiana.

Academically, he was an average student, who was good at playing pranks on others and was called ‘aflatoon’ by his classmates. He was loved by everyone, had a separate group and was a leading sportsman in his school. He possessed all the qualities of a leader.

After studying up to class 9, he left for Odisha to stay with his uncle. Having passed his matriculation examination there, he joined college in 1912. Kartar garnered influence by his headmaster, Shri Beni Madhav Das, whom his one-year junior Subhas Chander Bose revered as his Guru, a patriot to the core. Further, he desired to go to the US, and his

— source newsclick.in | Saurav Kumar | 16 Nov 2021

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