Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav: In memory of Vasudev Balwant Gogate, lawyer and freedom fighter
New Delhi, June 18: Vasudev Balwant Gogate was born on August 11, 1919 in the Satara district of Maharashtra. He received his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from Poona University. He was also studying at Fergusson College in Poona when the spark of extremism ignited within him.
He was one of the leaders who believed in extremist policies. The reason behind this could be his interest in the ideologies of the extremist leaders of the country like Veer Savarkar and Lal Bahadur Shastri.
The Sholapur district of Maharashtra was one of the most volatile areas of the Indian freedom movement against the British. The conflict in Solapur especially escalated around the year 1931, when a few natives of Solapur were hanged. To avenge these excesses, Vasudev Balvant Gogate (s88), a 19-year-old undergraduate student of Furgueeson College, on July 22, 1931, fired 2 revolver shots at close range, at the time ‘Governor of the Bombay Presidency ‘, Sir Ernest Hotson. The Governor, thanks to a protection on his left breast pocket, escaped this attempt on his life. The attempt was made at Furguession Library while the Governor was on an informal visit to Furguesson College with Lady Hotson.
Gogate, who belonged to Miraj near Kolhapur, was heard shouting the cry of ‘Bande Mataram’ as he was escorted out of the Furguession library premises after the incident. The incident witnessed popular support from Furguessons college students, who were heard shouting ‘Bravo’ and ‘Bravo’ as Gogate was handed over to police. It is reported that some of them even ransacked the governor’s car as he was about to leave the college. In the proceedings following Gogate’s arrest, he defended his idea of ”direct action” rather than passing resolutions. According to him, it was futile to pass resolutions and protest at meetings, especially when a non-Indian was appointed governor.
The ‘Maratta’ newspaper in its issue of July 26, 1931, writes in support of Gogate, stating that “The government has offered the greatest provocation to the people by its policy regarding the civil disobedience movement and the political aspirations of India, the appointment of the original member of Bombay, whose name has been associated with the brutal accusations of lathi and the events in and around Sholapur, which had no equal elsewhere in India, as acting governor of the presidency, was, by far, the worst and perhaps the most offensive evidence of this policy?
Later, during an inspection made of the hostel room Gogte, mainly suggested that he was inspired by the revolutionary leaders of the freedom movement.
On September 9, 1931, Gogate was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 8 years by District and Session Judge Poona, but the Bombay government, in separate proceedings, delivered this statement, giving him credit for having espoused non-violent beliefs.
Vasudev Blavant Gogate died on November 26, 1949.
Article first published: Saturday, June 18, 2022, 2:01 p.m. [IST]