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Freedom fighters

Mahatma Gandhi popularly known as Father of the Nationwas one of the charismatic Indian leaders who fought for the freedom of the country. This great leader was born in Porbandar, Gujarat on Oct 2, 1869. He was the youngest of the three sons of Putlibai and Karamchand Gandhi. He completed his primary studies in Rajkot and was married to Kasturba at the age of 13. In 1891, Gandhi went to London to study Law but after having admitted to Britisah bar he returned to India and began law practice in Bombay. After a span of two years he was called by an Indian company in South Africa to work as a legal advisor. There he found that he was ill-treated and abused because of inferior race and color discrimination. This was a common problem with all Indians. He then decided to throw himself into the freedom struggle to secure rights for Indian people. For this cause, Gandhi stayed in South Africa for almost 25 years. Influenced by the Bhagvad Gita and Hindu beliefs, the Jain religion and the Christian teachings of Leo Tolstoy, Gandhi moved on the path of Satya and Ahimsa. Satya meaning truth and ahimsa meaning non-violence were the two weapons that Gandhi used to fight the enemy. He led the campaign in South Africa with the principle of Satyagraha for Indian rights and was arrested many times for his political activities. In 1914, many of Gandhis demands were accepted by the Government of the Union of South Africa. After his struggle in South Africa he returned to India and started Non-Cooperation movement there. Gandhi, after returning to India inspired people to boycott British goods and refuse earthy possessions. This movement was known as Swaraj and was economically significant because Indian home industries were virtually destructed by British industrialists. He advocated renewal of native Indian industries and began to use a spinning wheel as a token of return to simple village life. Thereafter, he constantly began promoting satyagraha, nonviolence, non-cooperation and swaraj to achieve independence. Finally, in August 1947, the British were forced to leave India. Mahatma Gandhi, symbol of Free India, was assassinated by Nathuram Godse in January 1948. His mortal frame has already turned into ashes years ago but he still lives in the hearts of millions of people. Mahatma Gandhi, an embodiment of eternal love and truth, will live for immortal ages.

Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second Prime Minister of India, was born on October 2, 1904 at Mughalsarai, a railway colony located at seven miles away from Varanasi. He imbibed boldness, courage, selflessness, self-respect and other virtues from his parents Shradha Prasad and Ramdulari Devi. In 1921, Gandhi Ji launched Non Cooperation Movement and called to the youth to fight for the noble cause of freedom. Shastri was highly influenced by the movement and joined the freedom struggle at the age of 17. He was arrested during the movement but was later released. He then joined Kashi Vidya Peeth and earned the degree of Shashtri. After earning this degree, he joined The Servants of the People Society that was started by Lala Lajpat Rai in 1921, with the aim to train youth who were resolved to dedicate their lives for the country. Bahadur Shastri married Lalita Devi in 1927. Being a true follower of Gandhi Ji, he took a spinning wheel and few yards of khadi in dowry. In response to the call of Gandhi Ji, he actively participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement, Salt Stayagraha and Quit India Movement for which he was sentenced to imprisonment several times. Finally, in 1947 Britishers were forced to quit India. Thereafter, in 1947, he was appointed as Minister of Police and Transport in Pants Cabinet and in 1964 as Prime Minister of India. In 1965, war started between India and Pakistan. During this war, Shastri played a key role in maintaining internal security of the country. He coined a slogan Jai Jawan Jai Kisan to bring unity within the country and finally led India to victory. He died on January 10, 1966 at Tashkent after he had signed the Joint Declaration with President Agha Khan of Pakistan.

Bhagat Singh, a symbol of heroism, was born in a Sikh family in Layalpur, Punjab on September 27, 1907. He was a national hero who gave a new wave to the revolutionary movement in India. His only goal in life was the destruction of British Empire. Bhagat started his education in DAV School in Lahore but was not able to complete his studies because he was highly disturbed and influenced by the Jalianwala Bagh massacre at the age of 12. His desire to drive British out from India became stronger and he joined the Non-Cooperation Movement called by Gandhi Ji in 1921. The incidence of Chauri-Chaura in Gorakhpur made Bhagat violent and he decided to earn freedom with armed revolution rather than non-violence. He then joined the National College in Lahore, a center of revolutionary activities. To spread message of revolution in Punjab, Bhagat formed a union of revolutionaries by the name Naujavan Bharat Sabha and gave a call for mass mobilization. In 1928, he went to Delhi to attend a meeting of revolutionaries and there he came in contact with Chandrashekhar Azad. With a common aim to establish republic in India they both formed Hindustan Samajvadi Prajatantra Sangha. There were protests against of Simon Commission visit to India and in this protest Lala Lajpat Rai was brutally lathi charged and later on he died. This added to the anger and discontent of Bhagat and he was determined to kill the British official and Deputy Inspector General Scott responsible for the death of Lala Lajpat Rai. By mistake, he killed assistant superintendent Saunders and ran from Lahore to escape punishment. He threw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly on April 18, 1929 and was sentenced to death on March 23, 1931. Though dead, Bhagat Singh is still living in the history of humanity and remembered as a prominent face of the freedom struggle.

Born on November 14, 1889 in Allahabad, Jawaharlal Nehruwas the first Prime Minister of India. The only son of Motilal Nehru and Swarup Rani was a patriot, a freedom fighter and the most highly respected personality. He completed his early education in a boarding school in England. For higher studies he went to Cambridge University and returned to India in 1912 as a barrister. Just after his studies, in 1916 he got married to Kamala Kaul. Nehru was an intellectual with strong feelings of patriotism, liberty and unity. Being highly influenced by Gandhi Ji, he wanted to join the freedom struggle. During the struggle he was imprisoned several times. He had spent almost 14 years of his life in prison. For consequently 5 times he was elected as the President of Indian National Congress and under his influence Congress adopted the goal of complete independence. After centuries of struggle, India became independent in 1947 and soon after that Nehru was appointed as the first Prime Minister of the country. Even after independence he had served the country that had left a profound influence on the social structure, intellectual development and overall development of the country. He is said to be the architect, the maker of modern India. On May 27, 1964 India lost its architecture.

Indira Gandhi was born on November 19, 1917 in Allahabad and was the loving grand-daughter of Motilal Nehru. She completed her early education from Pune University and was further sent to Shantiniketan formed by Rabindranath Tagore. She then went to Oxford University for further studies. After completing her education she returned to India in 1941 and got married to Feroz Gandhi, the son of Gandhi family. Her father Jawaharlal Nehru was a freedom fighter and so she was exposed to politics since childhood. Mahatma Gandhi was a frequent visitor to her house and she was highly inspired by the feelings of patriotism he had. Further to her marriage, Nehru was imprisoned and he wrote beautiful letters to Indira. These letters were to make Indira aware of the current political condition of the country. Being highly influenced by her fathers letter, she decided to join freedom struggle. In 1942, she participated in Quit India Movement for which she was imprisoned. She laid emphasis on the freedom of the country and convinced local Indians to fight for the cause. After gaining independence in 1947, she was appointed as the third Prime Minister and the first woman Prime Minister of the country in 1966. Her commendable efforts during her tenure of 16 years are unforgettable. Fighting the battle for her country, she was killed by her body guards on October 31, 1984.

Rani Lakshmibai was one of the leading warriors of Indias freedom struggle who laid an outstanding influence on the succeeding women freedom fighters. She was a symbol of bravery, patriotism, respect of girl child, perseverance, generosity and resistance to British rule. She fought till her last breath for the welfare of women in the country and for the noble cause of Indias independence. Rani Laxmibai, popularly known as Rani of Jhansi or Rani Lakshmi Bai, was born on November 19, 1835 at Poona in a wealthy high class Brahmin family. She got married to Raja Gangadhar Rao, the maharaja of Jhansi, in 1842. In 1851, she gave birth to a child who unfortunately died just four months after his birth. Being highly affected by this tragic incident Raja adopted Damodar Rao as his son. Even after that he was unable to come out of the tragedy of losing his son and ultimately died on November 21, 1853. Rani had faced great tragedies in life; she lost her mother at a very young age and then her husband at the age of eighteen. But, no tragedy was able to break her apart and courageously she took over all her responsibilities. After the death of Raja of Jhansi, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General of India, planned to annex Jhansi on the ground that it did not have any legal heir. Britishers refused to accept Damodar as the legal heir of Jhansi and in 1854, Rani of Jhansi was ordered to leave the fort after giving a pension of 60,000. Being a patriotic woman, Rani was not willing to give the dominion of Jhansi to Britishers and called for an armed force. She successfully assembled an army of rebellions including women and was supported by many freedom fighters like Gulam Gaus Khan, Dost Khan, Khuda Baksh, SunderMundar, Kashi Bai, Lala Bhau Bakshi, Moti Bai, Deewan Raghunath singh and Deewan Jawahar Singh. In March 1858, Britishers attack on Jhansi forced Rani Lakshmi Bais army to fight back for the defense of the city. The war continued for two weeks but unfortunately Britishers were successful in extending their empire. Under the cover of darkness Rani along with her son and army of rebellions rode to Gwalior where again a battle was fought. The second day of the war in Gwalior unfortunately turned to be the last day of Ranis life. Bravely fighting for India freedom, she died on June 18, 1858.

Lala Lajpat Rai, popularly known as Punjab Kesari or Lion of Punjab, was born on January 28, 1865 in Jagraon in Ludhiana. He was the eldest son of Munshi Kishan Azad and Gulab Devi who inculcated strong moral values in him. He studied law from Government College in Lahore and thereafter started his legal practice in Hissar. His political career started in 1888 with the Indian National Congress Session at Allahabad. At the next session at Bombay in 1889, he was linked with other two leading freedom fighters Bipin Chandra Pal and Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The trio was popularly known as Lal-Bal-Pal. Lalaji was actively involved in struggle against partition of Bengal. During the struggle he galvanized Indians for a campaign of Swadeshi and was imprisoned for six months for creating turmoil. After his release in 1907, he went to Britain in April 1914 to explain the position of India. During his stay in Britain, the First World War broke out but he was unable to return. So, he went to USA for promoting the cause of Indias freedom struggle. There he founded the India Home League Society of America. He returned to India in 1920 and formed the Congress Independence Party in protest against the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre and Non Cooperation Movement. In 1928, Simon Commission that came to India to discuss constitutional reforms was protested by Lalaji because the commission had no Indian members. The shrewd Britishers brutally lathicharged Lalaji during the protest and because of severe head injuries he expired on November 17, 1928.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, popularly known as a Man of Steel, was born on October 31, 1875 at Nadiad, Gujarat. He passsed his high school studies in Nadiad and came out with a strong desire to become a lawyer. Because of financial reasons he could not join any school of law so he studied at home and passed the law exam with flying colors. Sardar started his legal practice in Godhra and at the age of 36, he went to England for further studies. He returned to India in 1913 and started his practice in Ahemdabad. He soon became a successful lawyer but his dream and career soon flourished. Inspired by the work and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, he decided to join the freedom struggle. His first attempt was to fight for the cause of peasants in Kheda, Bardoli and other parts of Gujarat who were asked to pay heavy taxes to the British Government. Patel, under the leadership of Gandhi Ji, launched non-violent Civil Disobedience Movement against the payment of raised taxes. The Government tried to suppress the revolt but unfortunately could not do so. Finally, the taxes were suspended and thereafter everyone addressed Patel as Sardar. Further, he was also involved in Salt Satyagraha in Nagpur and Quit India Movement in 1942. He also opposed alcoholism, untouchability, caste discrimination and violence. In 1931, he was elected as the President of Indian National Congress. After independence he was appointed as the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India. He had served the country during the tenure but Gandhi Jis death gave him a major heart attack and he died on December 15, 1950.

Subhas Chandra Bose is one of those great freedom fighters who martyred their lives for Indias independence. He is popularly known as Netaji because he was considered to be a born leader.He was born on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack, Orissa. And was the ninth child of a famous lawyer Janaki Nath Bose and a religious lady Prabhavati Devi. He completed his graduation in Calcutta and went to England in 1919 to appear for Indian Civil Service Examination and achieved fourth place on merit. Filled with the feelings of patriotism, Bose was resolved to drive British out of the country. When in England, he was shaken by the incident of Jalianwala Bagh massacre and returned back to India in 1921. Under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi he joined the Indian National Congress and

actively participated in Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930. Subash along with Tilak and Auribindo were not convinced with Gandhi Jis method of achieving independence. They were in favor of armed revolution and Netaji strongly believed that the only way to earn freedom was by shedding blood. With this strong belief, he involved himself in various revolutionary activities for which he was imprisoned many times. In 1938, Subash was elected as the President of All India Congress. At the time of World War II, Gandhi and Nehru did not support him for armed revolution and so he escaped to Germany to approach Hitler for help. Being impressed by Netaji, Hitler helped him to organize the Indian National Army with the soldiers of the prisoners of war. On October 21, 1943, Subash declared the formation of Azad Hind Government and hosted the Indian National Flag in Kohima, Assam on March 18, 1944. In August 1945, Japan surrendered the territory and somehow Netaji escaped from there. He left in a war plane to an undisclosed destination and expired due to plane crash on August 17, 1945.

Born on July 19, 1827 in the village of Nagwa, district Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, Mangal Pandey was introduced to Indian history as the first freedom fighter and martyr of 1857. He is popularly named Shaheed Mangal Pandey because Shaheed means martyr in Urdu and he was the first Indian sepoy who woke up the Indian masses to fight for the nation. Mangal Pandey, at the age of 22 joined the British East India Company as a soldier in the 34th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry. He was a true freedom fighter who gave a spark to the First War of Indian Independence. The British termed it as Sepoy Mutiny 1857 as it was a mass revolt of Indian soldiers in the British Army. The main reason of Sepoy Mutiny was the Pattern 1853 Enfield rifled musket. To load a new rifle, the soldiers had to bite the cartridge and open to pour gunpowder into the rifles muzzle. There was a widespread rumor that these cartridges were greased with lard or tallow. Lard is the pork fat which the Muslims regarded as unclean and tallow is the beef fat which the Hindus regarded as sacred. The British army constituted 96% of Indians and so both the Hindus and the Muslims refused to accept these cartridges. Everyone had a firm belief that this was done intentionally and this discontent turned into a major revolt. Mass revolt forced Pandey to attack his British sergeant on the parade ground, besides wounding an adjutant. A native soldier stopped him from killing them. The officer in charge ordered a Jamadaar of the troop to arrest Pandey but he refused to do so. Mangal tried to commit suicide to light the flame of nationalism in the hearts of millions of Indians but he failed to do so. He was then captured and sentenced to death on April 8, 1857 in Barrackpore. March 29, 1857 is considered to be a day when Mangal Pandey reaped the seed for a struggle which gave India her freedom.