Since India became independent its uneven development and fractured growth, huge differences between the rich and poor or the majority and minority communities, the disenfranchisement of the tribal and the Dalits, among other things, have raised ugly questions afresh on the basic concept of freedom, egalitarianism, justice and sovereignty. State power has been frequently misused to repress the various voices of dissent, agitations and resistance struggles, who have strongly challenged the meaningless of it all. People’s Movements like Tebhaga, Telangana, the Naxalism, Free Kashmir and the demand of Naga liberation have left many thousands dead, even more, embittered. It is today in the crosshairs of what is true martyrdom. In Free India are they to be called, known, reviled or celebrated as terrorists or Freedom Fighters, secessionists or liberators? Is violence against organised state power unconstitutional and only non-violent resistance legit? Is defending and fighting for your legitimate rights fundamental? Will dying in such actions honour them to be called martyrs?
Source: Musings on Martyrdom: Ibaadat sey Shahdat!
“They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest we forget..”
This is the season of the brave !
Many today would be proud to know that it was in these infamous “cells”great sons of India preferred to perish unknown and unsung,to court a ghastlier form of slow death in fighting for the flag and a nation- yet-to-be. Some of our very revered got scared too and preferred to sign documents praying to be released and never to fight again : the British.They became collaborators.But, before you wonder of how shameful it was, pause and reflect ;fear of death and love of life is dear, to most of us.The whole of Europe is pondering on how to record the role of those that joined hands with the Nazis.Mitterand, the former President of France was known to be one of the prominent personalities to have done so.Just like Sir Shobha Singh,Class 1 Contractor for Lutyens Delhi, father of Khuswant Singh signing off on Bhagat Singh and Veer Savarkar whose portrait adorns the Parliament and an acknowledged mentor of the current party in power,pleading for forgiveness from the British and vowing to become a better citizen !(whatever that meant)
We in our daily lives are confronted with little moments of dilemma and challenge of what is right and wrong.Invariably,howsoever small, we prefer the wrong one for it is popular, common and comfortable or convenient.Therefore those that gave their all for nothing and won everything for the people not their own blood or kin must have been made of sterner stuff.
For my part,I hesitate, to call the collaborators”desha-drohi” while unequivocally,to bend and bow before the Martyrs: yesterday,now and after ! And in silent pranam, bugle the “the Last Post,”for they, deserve to rest in Peace while we live on:our little lives.
“Cellular Jail, located at Port Blair, stood mute witness to the tortures meted out to the freedom fighters, who were incarcerated in this jail. The jail, completed in the year 1906 acquired the name ‘Cellular’ because it is entirely made up of individual cells for the solitary confinement. It originally was a seven prolonged, puce-coloured building with central-tower acting as its fulcrum and a massive structure comprising honeycomb like corridors. The building was subsequently damaged and presently three out of the seven prongs are intact. The Jail, now a place of pilgrimage for all freedom loving people, has been declared a National Memorial “.