Remembering freedom fighter and justice crusader Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi on the anniversary of his death

What is not so well known is that Vidyarthi was instrumental in channeling the high energy levels of young revolutionaries into more constructive achievements. Respecting his understanding and wisdom, the revolutionaries quietly consulted Vidyarthi regarding certain “actions”, and Vidyarthi often exercised restraint to prevent what would have been preventable violence.

As the revolutionaries strove to make a more lasting impact on people through satyagraha-like actions and prison fasts from 1929 to 1931, the influence of mentors like Vidyarthi became evident.

At the same time, his role as editor was simply glorious. For 18 years in a row, from 1913 to 31, he fought the colonial regime with one foot in the office and the other in prison. Moreover, he was constantly fighting lawsuits from powerful people.

His journal “Pratap” became a prominent forum for the wider freedom movement as well as the fight against various feudal interests and royalty.

Furthermore, he repeatedly addressed the issue of communal harmony in his diary and also guided the efforts of the citizens in this direction, especially in Kanpur. He played a leading role in the formation of an organization called “Hindustani Biradari” which organized programs on community harmony and joint celebrations of various festivals.

Vidyarthi has repeatedly warned people against falling prey to communal propaganda. He could foresee that to divert the rising tide of the freedom movement, the forces of imperialism will try to aid and incite the narrow communal forces on both sides. He wrote many times against it. But he could not foresee that his own life would be lost trying to control this violence.

Thelma J. Longworth