February 15, 2006

Bondage to Freedom- I

From today onwards, I will be writing bits and pieces on the life of Indians during the pre-independence days and their struggle against the British for freedom. The piece that I am writing below is the result of my attempts at drawing my grandmother out on her experience of the British rule and the lives they were compelled to live. I am also planning to do some research on this by seeking help from people who had braved all that misery and are still alive.

My grandmother was a child at that time. She was hardly eleven years old when India became independent in 1947. So, I am trying to put in all that she could remember.


1942: My grandmother and her parents used to live in Ramachandrapuram, a remote village situated near Kakinada, now in Andhra Pradesh. (Note: There were no states formed during those days). The then prominent freedom activist, Durgabhai (Deshmukh) also hailed from the same place. It was the time when the world war was at its peak. The British took away all the young Indian males with them in order to increase their man-power at war against other countries. Many petrol tankers used to be secured near the beach at Kakinada. At the time of war, one of the rival countries (my grandmother thinks it was Japan. I myself am not sure about it, but I will somehow try to find it) started to drop bombs on the tankers to increase the level of destruction. The natives of Kakinada and the nearby villages emptied the tankers as a precautionary attempt.

1943 and later
: The Quit India Movement was getting into its full course all over the country. The Dandi March strike was taking place actively at the Kakinada beach apart from other places. Indians, no matter how educated, were never employed for anything more than a clerical job. My grandfather also worked as a clerk under some British employer in 1946. People were not allowed to light bright lamps at nights so as to not alert the rival jet fighters about occupied lands on the ground. My grandmother told me that she spent most of the nights in the first eleven years of her life in almost complete darkness. There was electricity in almost no Indian house apart for some rich ones. (Unfortunately, this is the plight in most of the Indian villages even today). When bombings became frequent, people used to hide, at nights, in the tunnels they would dig for protecting themselves. Women were sent over to safer places and men remained back unable to leave their livelihood. Many people living in those parts migrated to Gorripudi, a small village situated between Ramachandrapuram and Kakinada. One more interesting fact to be noted here is that the British rule was confined to mostly the parts of India other than the Southern region. The Telangana and other regions used to be under the Nizam rule.

The fight against the Moughal rule started becoming fierce under the leadership of the Rajaakaaras (Muslim radical group). The Rajaakaaras abducted Hindu women and killed them. The Moughal rulers could not withstand such resistance from them anymore. Sardar Vallabh bhai Patel came to the rescue of the Moughals. He brought in the military forces to suppress the Rajaakaaras. The Nizams later repudiated their power and it was concerted to give Hyderabad then called Bhagyanagaram, named after Hyder Ali’s lover, Bhaagmati to Telangana. Later, after many contentions, Madras was given to TamilNadu, which used to be in Andhra Pradesh earlier.


No comments:

Post a Comment