The shared heritage of the 1857 War of Independence should be remembered for uniting India, said writer and researcher Shamsul Islam here on Saturday.
Speaking at late B.V. Kakkilaya Oration on “joint martyrdom, joint heritage of 1857 War of Independence”, Mr. Islam said there are many unknown martyrs who laid down their lives in their fight against the British.
Records related to these martyrs are lying unattended in places including in Britain and Pakistan. He has gone through authentic past records to bring to light a few of these martyrs, Mr. Islam said.
Many martyrs were from South India which, he said, was not immune from the 1857 War of Independence. “In two days and two nights, I found names of 136 martyrs from different backgrounds of Karnataka (who were involved in the Nargund revolt of 1842, the Koppal fort battle of 1858, and the Surpur rebellion),” he said. “Respecting these martyrs is nothing but respecting Bharat Mata,” he said.
The reason for remembering incidents that occurred 160 years ago, Mr. Islam said, was to make people aware about how Hindus, Muslims and other communities fought for freedom together.
“There is a section that does not believe in egalitarian concept. They have their own definition of Sanatana Dharma,” he said. This section is against everything that is democratic, he added..
Mr. Islam came to Ravindra Kalabhavan in the University College campus, the venue of the programme, amid a protest by a section of students asking the speaker to go back.
The protesting students said they did not want the college to be a venue for propagation of ‘Left ideology”. The police placed barricades to confine the slogan shouting students to a corner.
All through Mr. Islam’s talk in the auditorium, students sitting outside raised slogans. At one point, protesting students tried to enter the venue and stop the speech. The police, who were in big numbers, stopped students. Soon after Mr. Islam left the venue, students expressed their displeasure over the programme before college principal Anasuya Rai.
Ms. Rai told students that talk was not organised by the university and it was not compulsory for students to attend it.
The ABVP activists staged a protest outside the college entrance opposing the college allowing Mr. Islam’s lecture on its premises.