There has been a tendency to limit India’s Independence to just a few incidents: Modi  

PM says indifference towards unsung heroes of freedom struggle has continued for a long time

June 14, 2022 09:13 pm | Updated 09:13 pm IST - Pune

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during inauguration of a shila (rock) temple at the Sant Tukaram Maharaj temple in Dehu, in Pune on June 14, 2022.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during inauguration of a shila (rock) temple at the Sant Tukaram Maharaj temple in Dehu, in Pune on June 14, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Pune

The indifference towards unsung heroes of India’s freedom struggle has continued for a long time, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, remarking that knowingly or unknowingly, there was a tendency to limit India’s Independence to just a few incidents.

Mr. Modi, who was speaking during the inauguration of the ‘Gallery of Revolutionaries’ at the Raj Bhawan in Mumbai, said that regardless of social, familial or ideological roles, the goal of all revolutionaries within the country or abroad was the same — India’s complete independence.

In a veiled dig at the Congress party and its version of India’s freedom struggle, the Prime Minister said: “knowingly or unknowingly, there has been a tendency to limit India’s Independence to just a few incidents. Whereas, India’s independence involved the tapasya of countless people and the collective impact of many incidents at the local level was national. The means were different but the resolution was the same.”

‘Local and global’

Recalling the contributions of revolutionaries like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the Chapekar brothers, Vasudeo Balwant Phadke and Madam Bhikaiji Cama, Mr. Modi observed that India’s freedom struggle was local as well as global, citing the Gadar Party, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army and the India House established by Shyamji Krishna Varma.

The Prime Minister especially rued that indifference towards unsung heroes continued for a very long time, observing how Shyamji Krishna Varma’s remains had to wait 73 years since his death in 1930 to reach India.

“When Shyamji died in 1930, his only wish was that his ashes be brought back to an Independent India. This act should have been performed as soon as India secured her freedom in August 1947. Why did it take so long? It was unfortunate that it took 73 years to honour Shyamji’s last wish and that I finally was able to bring back his ashes from Geneva in 2003,” said Mr. Modi.

The ‘Gallery of Indian Revolutionaries’ called ‘Kranti Gatha’ has been created in the British-era bunker discovered below the Governor’s residence, Raj Bhawan in 2016. It has been curated under the guidance of historian Vikram Sampath, author of the immensely popular two-volume biography of V.D. Savarkar.

‘Tradition of courage’

“This gallery depicts Maharashtra’s tradition of courage, devotion, spirituality, and participation in the freedom struggle. Maharashtra has inspired the country. If we talk about social revolution, then Maharashtra has given social reformers from Sant Tukaram to Babasaheb Ambedkar. In Maharashtra, saints like Dnyaneshwar, Namdev, Samarth Ramdas and Chokhamela have inspired the country. When we talk about ‘Swaraj’, the lives of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj even today strengthen the sense of patriotism in each Indian,” said Mr. Modi, inaugurating the ‘Kranti Gatha’ gallery.

The gallery features exhibits dedicated to freedom fighters from Maharashtra, including Vasudev Balwant Phadke, Lokmanya Tilak, V.D. Savarkar, Anant Laxman Kanhere, Bhikaiji Cama, and Ganesh Pingale. The gallery will also house an exhibit on ‘Abhinav Bharat’, the society founded by Savarkar and his brother in 1904.

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackrey were among those present on the occasion.

The Gallery meanwhile drew criticism from the Congress, with Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant alleging that the mainstream freedom struggle was not reflected in the ‘Gallery of Revolutionaries.’

“For years, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been trying to undermine mainstream non-violent freedom struggle and reinvent the history of freedom movement (as RSS was not part of it) in order to showcase it through a right-wing prism,” said Mr. Sawant, who took to Twitter to express his dissent.

He said the Gallery did not mention the names of freedom fighters like Azimullah Khan, Babu Genu and Communist leader Shripad Dange.

“Mainstream freedom struggle doesn’t seem to have place in this museum although the Indian National Congress was founded in Mumbai. Many sacrificed their lives in this struggle. There were lots of martyrs in the 1942 Quit India movement,” he said.

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