Each year as Independence Day approaches, there is a lot of writings that appear on the heroes of our struggle for Independence. Political speeches are replete with tales of sacrifice of our leaders but almost always the same names get all the attention and mention, while innumerable other lesser known names have been pushed into long forgotten pages of history. There is little or no awareness of their life, their struggle or their contribution to our struggle for independence. But they are still our heroes by any definition or standard and they too deserve a mention on our Independence Day.
Allah Bux Soomro (1900-1943): a true Patriot and truly secular
Most of you would not even have heard of Allah Bux, a name long ignored on both sides of the border. This is the story of a man who personified everything that secular India values today but he remains an unsung hero. During the days of Quit India Movement in 1942, Allah Bux was the Premier of Sindh, now a part of Pakistan (in those days the Chief Minister was called Premier) and founder of the Ittehad Party.
It was Allah Bux’s initiative and belief of a united and secular India that kept the Muslim League from spreading its influence in Sindh. He vehemently opposed the Muslim League’s position of the two-nation theory on the basis of religion. He was a staunch believer in a united India, one whose heritage belonged to both Hindus and Muslims, together. Being a popular leader and widely respected in his region, he managed to rally most Muslims to his point of view.
In 1940, he organised the Azad Muslim Conference in Delhi that was attended by over 1,400 delegates from all over India, where he strongly spoke of a united India for both Hindus and Muslims. He vociferously opposed Muslim League’s stand on the creation of Pakistan.
In 1942, he protested Winston Churchill’s criticism of the Indian National Congress and the Quit India Movement, by returning the Knighthood and the title of Khan Bahadur, which was conferred on him by the British.
Unfortunately, he didn’t find support from either the Indian National Congress or the Muslim League, which detested him for his opposition to their two-nation theory.
He was murdered on 14 May 1943 by professional killers, apparently hired by elements within the Muslim League.
His life and contribution to the freedom struggle is barely highlighted in Pakistan and largely ignored in India. Allah Bux Soomro lived and died for a united India and believed in an India that belonged to all….if only this ‘unsung hero’ had lived on…
Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950): also known as Sri Aurobindo
Aurobindo Ghose was born in a well-to-do family from Bengal. He was sent to England for studies and on his return from England he worked for the Maharaja of Gaekwad as his speech writer.
He soon began to develop strong nationalist feelings and took to writing revolutionary text and poetry, to inspire and awaken the masses against British rule in India. He launched ‘Bande Mataram,’ a publication that he edited and used to propagate his message.
In 1908, he was arrested in the Alipore bomb case for overseeing the failed bombing attempt to kill Magistrate Kingsford. The bomb missed his carriage and killed two other British women. He was put on trial. It was the spirited defence put up by Chittaranjan Das that saved him from the gallows but he did spend one year in solitary confinement in Alipore jail. It was during the time in jail he began to turn spiritual.
He later shifted to the French colony of Pondicherry, where he spent his remaining life in spiritual thought. Sri Aurobindo’s life and writings have inspired people both in India and overseas and his ashram in Pondicherry continues to remain a major destination for those seeking spiritual solace.
Peer Ali Khan: a hero of the 1857 Mutiny
Very few would know of this fiery young man from Muhammadpur in Azamgarh District of UP who inspired a rebellion in Patna. At the age of seven, he ran away from home and reached Patna where he took shelter with the local zamindar, Nawab Mir Abdullah, who educated and raised him. On growing up, he opened a book shop in Patna where he sold hand-written books and literature. He resented the presence of the British in India and his shop soon turned into a rendezvous point for secret meetings amongst freedom fighters.
His close proximity to native soldiers in the neighbouring Danapur Cantonment helped him develop friends within the soldier community and he was able to garner support against the British. His plan for a major uprising had to be preponed when two secret letters from Danapur Cantonment that bore his name and that of Waris Ali, fell into the hands of the police. With the arrest of Waris Ali, who was his associate and an officer in the British Army, Peer Ali had no choice but to prepone his uprising. He raised the blue and white flag that was similar to the one raised by Tipu Sultan and hurriedly gathered his group and distributed 50 guns which he acquired with the help of his associate Maulvi Mehdi. The Maulvi was subsequently arrested and hanged without trial on 20 June 1857.
The day was 3rd of July, 1857, when Peer Ali raised the flag of mutiny. He along with 200 supporters decided to storm Gulzar Bagh, the state administration headquarters. On their way, they encountered one Dr Lloyal, who was moving with a group of native soldiers. Dr Lloyal ordered his men to open fire. In the ensuing fire, Dr Lloyal was killed. On hearing this, the Commissioner of Patna, W.Taylor ordered his soldiers to open indiscriminate fire on the crowd. Several died on the spot and many were left wounded.
Peer Ali’s shop was raided and he was subsequently arrested on 4th July along with 33 of his supporters, most of who were hanged, without trial, the next day. Peer Ali was tortured for three days with the police trying to get information on his other supporters, especially Lutf Ali.
Despite enduring severe torture, Peer Ali never disclosed any information. He was hanged on 7 July 1857 and India lost its unsung hero.
The list of unsung heroes in the fight for India’s Independence is endless. The stories of their life and sacrifice are truly inspiring and it is indeed sad that history has not done justice to these unsung heroes.
70th Independence Day of India
About Independence Day
69th Independence Day Celebration of India
Independence Day Wallpapers
National Song of India
National Anthem of India
Freedom Fighters of India
National Symbols of India
Nehru’s Message to Nation
Development in India After Independence
15th August 1947: India after Partition is declared Independent of British Rule
26 January was Declared as Purna Swaraj Day
July 18th 1947: The India Independence Act 1947 Comes into Force
Unsung Heroes of Indian Independence
Pre-Partition Map of India