At a revolutionary conclave in Chandan Nagar, the suggestion for an attack on Hardinge emanated from Shreesh Ghosh, a dare-devil friend of Rash Behari. Rash Behari informed that he was ready and resolute but laid two conditions – that he should be supplied with powerful bombs and that he should have a young man of unimpeachable revolutionary character. Both were obtained and the first rehearsal was made on Diwali of 1911, amidst sound of crackers all round.
The young man who came from Chandan Nagar was one Basant Biswas, a handsome boy of 16 years. He could easily be dressed up as a girl and get mixed up with other women sitting on the spacious terrace of a building in Chandni Chowk. All were eagerly waiting for the procession on occasion of shifting India’s capital from culcutta to Delhi. The bombs had to be hurled by Basant on the target. He had actually practised it for months in the garden of Raja PN Tagore at Dehradun. On the previous day Rash Behari took his young ‘girl friend’ in a Tonga and had a ride through the roads of Chandni Chowk, which was to be the venue the next day.
It was the 23rd December 1912. The Viceroy couple was on the elephant back. Ladies were excitedly waiting for the procession to arrive. Basant (dressed as a girl) was one amongst them. The point chosen was the Clock-tower in Chandni Chowk, near the Punjab National Bank. Awadh Bihari was standing just opposite, to throw the bombs if Basant somehow failed. The atmosphere was electrifying, when it just occurred to Rash Behari that the practice of bomb throwing in cigarette tins at Dehrudun would be of no avail. It was from the ground to the imaginary height of the target on an elephant back. He just rushed in and asked Basant to enter the bathroom and quickly change his Sari to male clothes which he was carrying. He came down and got mixed up with the crowd on the foot path. But the bombs were not thrown by him but probably by Awadh Bihari. The Viceroy was seriously injured and was taken to a famous doctor, A.C. Sen, nearby. Awadh Bihari was later hanged but Rash Behari could not be touched. He returned to Dehradun by the night train and joined the office the next day as though nothing had happened.
Bankinchrandra Chattopadhyay wrote many Bangali novels from 1865 to 1884, most famous novel being Anand Math (1880). Anand Math contained the song “Bande Mataram”, which was written in 1876. Anand Math started appearing in the magazine, Banga Darshan, during 1880 to 1882. Its concept itself generated ripples in people’s minds, as it was a novel, which speaks of revolutionaries who live and die for their motherland. 1883 saw a stage version of Anandmath, wherein the first singing of the song took place. Bankimda passed away in 1894. In the 1896 convention of the Indian National Congress a full-unabridged version of Vande Mataram was sung. None other than the great personality-Rabindranath Tagore sang it. In the 1901 Congress, again it was rehearsed, with Dakshanrajan Sen as the composer. Thereafter it became a norm to start the Congress convention with Vande Mataram.
The year 1905 was memorable to Vande Mataram in many ways. In this year the song crossed the boundaries of Bengal, spread like a jungle fire throughout the nation which would oust the British rule. No sooner than the Partition of Bengal was declared, thousands of angry Bharatiyas protested the decision in a unanimous voice: Vande Mataram. Indian freedom struggle had got it’s march song. The British government realized the potential and nuisance value of Vande Mataram. Saraladevi Chaudharani, niece of Ravindranath Tagore, sung it despite protest in the 1905 Congress convention.
It was translated into English by Shree Auribindo Ghosh to conform to its universality and eventually. The militant revolutionaries who faced the gallows recited Vande Mataram as their last words. This includes Madanlal Dhingra, Praful Chaki, Khudiram Bose, Suryasen, Ramprasad Bismil and many more. Even the great martyr Bhagat Singh addresses a letter to his father with Vande Mataram. Subhashchandra Bose had adopted this song for his Indian National Army. In 1937, the Congress leaders, owing to misconceptions from certain minorities, appointed a committee to interpret Vande Mataram. The first two stanzas were adopted as a national song. Other stanzas bearing reference of the nation as ‘Mother Durga’ were omitted.
With no Indian member on the Simon commission body, formed for political reforms, angry Indian nationalist leaders across the ideological spectrum boycotted the commission. In Lahore, Lala Rajpat Rai, the most popular leader of Punjab, was hit during a lathi charge while leading an agitation against the commission, and succumbed to his injuries. ‘The Hindustan Socialist Republican Army’ was considering the plan of avenging the death of Lalaji by killing the Police Officers, who were responsible for Lalaji’s beating that led ultimately to his death. They had two-fold object in this: first to give the popular movement a turn towards violence, and second, to show to the world that Lalaji’s beating was not taken lying by India. The action was incidentally to advertise the existence of a revolutionary party in India. For this purpose it was decided that Bhagat Singh and Shivaram Rajguru should attempt on the life of Mr. Scott, the S. S. P. Meanwhile Chandra Shekhar Azad the absconder in the Kakori Conspiracy Case of 1926, was to direct the whole action and to work as a rear guard.
The whole plot was carefully thought out and complete arrangements were made for the same. Originally, it was the intention of these three youths to fight out a pitched battle with the police and if possible, to lay down their lives fighting. They believed that in this way they would be able to rouse up the imagination of the youth and bring them into the ranks of the revolutionaries. But the plan failed in two respects. Instead of Mr. Scott they murdered Mr. Saunders. Then, as the police did not follow them up, their desire for a pitched fight; could not be fulfilled. Only one Police Officer, namely Mr. Fern, came out of the Police Office after the shots had been fired that killed Mr. Saunders. But two bullets whirling by his head proved too strong an argument for returning back. Only Chanan Singh, a constable dared to follow them up. He was entreated to give up the chase; but on his refusing to do so, he was also killed by bullet shots.
Next morning the police discovered several posters pasted on walls, with the bold printed heading in red : “The Hindustan Socialist Republican Army,” below which was written out in thick letters: “Saunders is dead, Lalaji is avenged,” and some other matter in justification of the action.
While in college Lala Lajpat Rai joined the Arya Samaj founded by Swami Daya Nand Saraswati. Soon he became one of the three most prominent Hindu Nationalist members of the Indian National Congress, the Lal-Bal-Pal trio. They formed the extremist faction of the Indian National Congress, as opposed to the moderate one led first by Gopal Krishna Gokhale and then Gandhiji. Lalaji actively participated in the struggle against partition of Bengal. Along with Surendra Nath Banerjee, Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurorbindo Ghosh, he galvanized Bengal and the nation in a vigorous campaign of Swadeshi. Lalaji was arrested on May 3, 1907 for creating “turmoil” in Rawalpindi. He was put in Mandalay jail for six months.
He left for Britain in April 1914 to organize propaganda in foreign countries about freedom struggle. At this time First World War broke out and he was unable to return to India. He went to USA to galvanize support for India. He founded the Indian Home League Society of America and wrote a book called “Young India”. He was able to return to India in 1920 after the end of World War. After his return, Lala Lajpat Rai, led the Punjab protests against the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre and the Non-Cooperation Movement. He was arrested several times. He disagreed with Gandhiji’s suspension of Non-Cooperation movement due to the Chauri-Chaura incident, and formed the Congress Independence Party, which had a pro-Hindu slant.
In 1928, British Government decided to send Simon Commission to India to discuss constitutional reforms. The Commission had no Indian member. This greatly angered Indians. In 1929, when the Commisssion came to India there were protests all over India. Lala Lajpat Rai himself led one such procession against Simon Commission on October 30, 1928 in Lahore. While the procession was peaceful, James Scott, superintendent of Police brutally lathicharged the procession. Lala Lajpat Rai received severe head injuries and died on November17, 1928. Subsequently to avenge Lalaji’s death, Bhagat Singh and others planned to kill James Scott, however ended up killing John P. Saunders, Assistant Superintendent of Police, in case of a mistaken identity.
In the United States, Har Dyal who had come from England after relinquishing his scholarship and studies at Oxford University inspired many students studying at the University of California at Berkeley. A meeting of some patriotic and enlightened Indians was called on April 23, 1913, in Astoria, Oregon, where Hindustan Association of the Pacific Coast was formed with a major objective to liberate India, just as Americans had done more than a century ago.
The headquarters of Hindustan Association of the Pacific Coast was established in San Francisco. A building was purchased with funds raised from the community, primarily Punjabi farmers and farm and lumber mill workers and was named Yugantar Ashram. The association began publishing a magazine, Gadar (revolt), for free distribution. The first issue of the Gadar was in Urdu and was published on November 1, 1913. An edition of the journal was brought out next month in Gurmukhi and in May 1914 a Gujrati edition of the journal was published. The Gadar publication exposed the British imperialism and called upon the Indian people to unite and rise up against British rule and throw the British out of India. The publication Gadar, over a period of time, became well known among Indians and the Hindustan Association of the Pacific Coast itself became known as the Gadar party. Special issues of Gadar were also printed in Nepali, Bengali, Pashto, as well as in many other languages.
The gadarites thought World War I as a golden opportunity for freedom. They began forceful campaign to mobilize overseas Indians to go to India and launch revolution. The Indian Revolutionary Society in Berlin had arranged for substantial financial aid from Germany. Several ships were commissioned or chartered to carry arms and ammunitions and batches of Indian revolutionaries, about 6000, to India. However British overpowered the ships. They also could not get the support of the leaders of India’s Freedom movement, who had already committed full co-operation with the British Indian Government for World War. Several Gadarites in India & US were imprisoned, many for life, and some were hanged. Although the movement did not achieve its stated objective, but it awakened the India and left a major impact on India’s struggle for freedom.
Gulab Singh founded the state of Jammu and Kashmir after purchasing the entire territory along with people between the rivers of Ravi and Indus from the East India Company in 1846, for 75 lakh. Hari Singh, the great-grandson of Gulab Singh was the ruler at the time of India-Pak independence. Hari Singh, in the weeks after August 15, 1947, gave no indication of giving up his State’s independence, unlike other 570 princely states in the region. It proved to be the root cause of present day Kashmir conflict. Md Ali Jinnah wanted to meet Hari Singh through the excuse of visiting the beautiful valley to recover his lost health. A state with such a vast muslim population makes clear point to come in Pakistan & Jinnah was over sure about this. His shock found no limit when he knew that Hari Singh does not want him in Kashmir even as a tourist. Pakistan then decided to force the issue, and a tribal invasion to drive out the Maharaja was initiated. In the early hours of October 24, 1947 the invasion began, as thousands of tribal Pathans swept into Kashmir. Their destination: the state’s capital, Srinagar, from where Hari Singh ruled. The Maharaja appealed to India for help.
On 25 October, V. P. Menon, a civil servant considered to be close to Patel, flew to Srinagar to get Hari Singh’s nod for Kashmir’s accession to India. By signing the Instrument of Accession, on October 26, 1947, Hari Singh agreed that the State would become a part of India. On 27 October, India’s 1st Sikh battalion flew into Srinagar. Srinagar was soon secured from the Pakistani invaders but the battles in the larger region were just beginning. When Jinnah learnt of the Indian troops’ landing, he reportedly ordered his acting British commander-in-chief General Sir Douglas Gracey to move two brigades into Kashmir, who refused the request. Pakistan finally did send troops to Kashmir but by then Indian forces had taken control of nearly two thirds of the state. Gilgit and Baltistan territories were secured by Pakistani troops. Meanwhile Hari Singh fleed Srinagar with a convoy of 85 cars and wealth of 500Cr. Loaded in 8 trucks and finally settled in Mumbai. Finally, a United Nations (UN) ceasefire was arranged. After long negotiations, the cease-fire was agreed to by both countries, and came into effect at the end of 1948.
The Muslims of India had a great regard for the Khilafat (Caliphate) which was held by the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). During World War I, Turkey joined the war in favour of Germany and lost the war. During the war, the Indian Muslim’s support to the British Government was subject to the safeguard and protection of the holy places of Turkey. But the British Government could not fulfill the promises. A wave of anger swept across the Muslim World and the Indian Muslims rose against the British Government. Muslim leaders like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Moulana Muhammad Ali Johar, Moulana Shoukat Ali reacted against the British Government policy and were put behind the bars. Thus, Muslims organized a mass movement, which came to be known as Khilafat Movement.
The leaders of Khilafat movement announced the Non Co-operation Movement, the Congress extended its full support to the Khilafat Movement. The leaders of the two met at Amritsar and resolved to launch a country wide agitation under the leadership of Mr. Gandhi.
Muslim ulama issued a verdict and declared India as Dar-ul-Harab (countries where the Muslim law is not in force) and the Muslims therefore needed to migrate to some other country or Dar-ul-Salam (Muslim country). Thousands of families hastily left for Afghanistan, in August 1920. As many as eighteen thousand people marched towards Afghanistan, which was unable to bear the influx of the people. Thus, the Afghan authorities closed their frontiers. Eventually the Muhajarins had to return to their homes.
The Khilafat Movement came to an end when thousands of Indians were put behind the bar. The leaders in spite of their best efforts could not maintain the Hindu-Muslim Unity. One of the main reasons which caused a death blow to Khilafat Movement was the indirect announcement of Gandhiji to discontinue the Non Co-operation Movement due to Chauri Chaura episode. In 1924, Kamal Ataturk set up a government on democratic basis in Turkey by abolishing Khilafat as a system of government which served a finishing blow to Khilafat Movement in India and people lost whatever interest that they had in the movement.