ICHR drags its feet on volumes on freedom struggle martyrs

The collections cover individuals across regions, castes and communities, with details on how they were killed.

The collections cover individuals across regions, castes and communities, with details on how they were killed.

The last two volumes of a comprehensive, five-volume dictionary on around 15,000 freedom fighters who became martyrs during the struggle for Independence are yet to see the light of day though work on them has been completed.

This has led to speculation that the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) could be sitting on them.

The Council has, however, denied the allegations and insisted that the work is in process.

Funded by the Ministry of Culture, the project has been carried forward from the UPA government. Three volumes of the compendium were published between 2011 and 2014.

The collections cover individuals across regions, castes and communities, with authenticated details on how they were killed and precise references to related official documents.

“The list showcases our diversity, as up to 30 per cent of the martyrs happen to be Muslim,” said a former ICHR official, requesting anonymity.

Only the last volume, published in 2014, has an introductory note by the present Council chairman Y. Sudershan Rao. The work was done by an advisory committee — which functioned through scholars and coordinators from different States. These coordinators. in turn, employed researchers regionally, who reported back to the committee, which would look at the detailed manuscripts and documents on those who were killed in the freedom struggle from 1857 to August 15, 1947.

“The advisory committee has not met since the new chairman took charge around July, 2014. The volumes are ready and could have been brought out easily by now,” veteran historian Arjun Dev, member of the advisory committee since its inception, told The Hindu .

Another member of the advisory committee, who also did not wish to be named said: “Volume-4 was complete more than one year ago. It has details about martyrs from Bihar, Bengal, Odisha, Assam and Jharkhand. Page proofs were also seen.

All that remained was the signing of a contract between the ICHR, the ministry and the publisher and the release. Vol-5, which comprises Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka, is also ready.”

The ICHR on its part says that the two volumes have been sent to the Ministry of Culture so that they are jointly published by the ICHR and that ministry after an MoU, approval for which is going to come soon.

“The Culture Ministry has approved both the volumes. This time ICHR and Ministry of Culture will have an MoU for joint publication, which will be signed very soon. After that, these will be sent to the publisher,” explains officiating member-secretary S.K. Aruni.

Volumes-1 and 2 dealt with northern and central Indian states and Vol-3 with Maharashtra, Gujarat and Sind.

The volumes cover only the freedom struggle, with a proposal that the martyrs of places like Hyderabad or Goa, which were liberated later, be kept for a separate section. Earlier the thinking was that the martyrs from Hyderabad and Goa, who laid down their lives after 1947, should also be included, but the Council decided to make 1947 a cut-off year.

The 2014-15 annual report of ICHR made it amply clear that the work was almost complete.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2022 11:45:25 pm |