Lesser-known revolutionaries who played a crucial role in India’s independence

The Indian independence struggle movement is popularly known in history, pop culture and research papers for the contribution made by freedom fighters. The task was to liberate India from colonial rule and the British Crown through Gandhi’s non-violent ideology and non-Gandhi violent actions where some sacrificed their lives, and some contributed through Indian National Congress policy ( INC) and the Muslim League.

Freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Mangal Pandey and Sukdev Thapar, to name a few, were iconic revolutionary nationalists who sacrificed their lives, and people also remember them by observing birthdays and looking at popular culture. Be that as it may, history has erased the contributions of Dalit freedom fighters who also helped to make India a democratic country.

The contribution of Dalits to the independence struggle movement becomes vital in more ways than one. First, they were struggling with a society that never accepted them as equals and was extremely negligent in offering them equal opportunities. Second, despite continuing to fight with society, they took the courage to fight the colonial regime. Notably, they were fighting for freedom where they would still be oppressed.

Dalit revolutionary figures

People often remember the 1857 mutiny with Rani Laxmi Bai and other freedom fighters. Yet they forget to recall the contribution of Dalit leader Uda Devi who fought bravely against the British East India Company, Wikipedia suggests.

The call for mutiny against British rule was growing in 1857 and the Indians needed more numbers on their side. At Sikander Bagh, near Jhansi, several British forces were trying to break Indian resistance. Suddenly the British officers noticed that most of their casualties had gunshot wounds that were only possible with a sniper.

Shortly after, Commander Colin Campbell asked another officer to shoot a suspicious tree, and he did so with the correct aim. Following this, a person fell to the ground; it was Uda Devi dressed as men and avenging the death of her husband.

In the publication Reminiscences of the Great Mutiny, William writes of Uda Devi: “She was armed with a pair of heavy old-fashioned cavalry pistols, one of which was in her belt still loaded, and her pocket was still half full of ammunition, while from her perch in the tree, which had been carefully prepared before the attack, she had killed more than half a dozen men.

The history of revolutionary fighters like Uda Devi, Jhalkari Bai, Rani Gaidinliu and Kuyili remains unclear as they come from scheduled castes, who constantly struggled before and after independence to gain equal opportunities and rights in society.

The University of Delhi’s Department of Commerce and the Social Studies Foundation also organized a seminar in New Delhi on August 8 to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence. The seminar focused on discussing the role of oppressed castes in the Indian freedom struggle and invited the descendants of these freedom fighters.

During the seminar, the panel emphasized the importance of remembering these freedom fighters as they are also equal contributors to the creation of a ‘Free India’.

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Thelma J. Longworth