The remembrance of our freedom struggle involves a lot of nostalgia – romanticized and commemorated by the country as best as possible. But there are a few names which have been lost over the years. Names which do not enter the hyped mainstream media responses on freedom fighters; which are subaltern and marginalized. Here is a list of some of those names, of people who formed a very important part of our freedom struggle and are yet, not as well known as a few others.
1. Pingali Venkayya
He was a devout follower of Mahatma Gandhi and was also known as Diamond Venkayya for his knowledge on diamond mining. He was an authority in geology, agriculture and also an educationalist. His major contribution to the movement was the design of the national flag of India, which was first modified and adopted as the flag of Indian National Congress and later modified again to be the national flag of India.
A politician and a freedom fighter, he was first the Chief Minister of the Madras Presidency and then the Chief Minister of the Andhra state. He started his career as a lawyer, but gave up his practice in 1921 and was drawn to the freedom movement. One of his most famous acts was in 1928 during the protests against Simon Commission in Madras. The police had imposed a ban on protests in some areas, and had warned of shooting people who violated orders. He faced the police, tore open his shirt, bared his chest and dared them to shoot if they could. This singular act of defiance won him the title of Andhra Kesari (Lion of Andhra).
He was a courageous Palyekar chieftain from Tamil Nadu in the 18th century. He waged a war with the British sixty years before the Indian War of Independence (the 1857 rebellion) occurred in the Northern parts of India. He was captured and hanged in 1799 CE. His fort was destroyed and his wealth was looted by the British army. He basically protested against the sovereignty of the East India Company and refused to pay their taxes.
4.The Trio: Benoy, Badal & Dinesh
The trio is mostly remembered together for their attack on the Dalhousie Square in Kolkata. Their full names are Badal Gupta, Dinesh Gupta and Benoy Basu and all of them hailed from Bengal. Col N.S. Simpson, the Inspector General of Prisons, was infamous for brutally oppressing prisoners. The revolutionaries decided not only to murder him, but also to strike terror among British officials by launching an attack on the Secretariat Building – the Writers’ Building in Dalhousie Square, Kolkata. The three of them were dressed as Europeans when they went and killed Simpson, but they did not wish to get arrested. So, Badal consumed poison, while the other two shot themselves using revolvers. The Dalhousie Square was renamed as the B.B.D. Bagh after them.
The man died in obscurity despite protecting Western Orissa from the British rule along with a few other comrades. Eligible as the next in line to the throne of Sambalpur after the death of Maharaja Sai in 1827, he helped the lower caste tribal people in Sambalpur against the British by encouraging their language and culture development. Affectionately called Bira by the local people because of his swordsmanship, he began protesting from the age of 18 and spent some 17 years in jail after that. But he continued the protest till 1862, when he surrendered and went to jail. He spent 20 years in prison after his surrender. Also, Sambalpur was the last patch of land to be occupied by the British except for the princely state, and it is said that it was largely due to the efforts of Sai.