Indian Freedom Fighters

The Indian Revolutionary did not find it practical at that stage to create a violent mass revolution throughout the country or to subvert the loyalties of the Army. Instead, they opted to follow in the footsteps of Russian nihilists or Irish nationalists.

Organizing assassinations of unpopular officials and of traitors and informers among the revolutionaries themselves; Conducting swadeshi dacoities to raise funds for revolutionary activities; (during the First World War) and organizing military conspiracies with the expectation of help from the enemies of Britain, The idea was to strike terror in the hearts of the rulers, arouse people, and remove the fear of authority from their minds. The revolutionaries intended to inspire the people by appealing to their patriotism, especially the idealistic youth.

During the course of India’s struggle for independence, several revolutionary organizations came up in various parts of the country. These organizations aimed at evicting the British from India by use of force. A radical trend of a militant nationalist approach to political activity first started emerging in the 1890s and it took a concrete shape by 1905.

Factors that Led to the Growth of Revolutionary Organisations:

  • Recognition of the True Nature of British Rule – by this time the Indians had realized the exploitative nature of British rule
  • Growth of Education
  • Inspired by international events like the victory of Japan over Russia
  • In opposition to increasing Westernisation
  • Dissatisfaction with the achievements of Moderates
  • Existence of a Militant School of Thought
  • The emergence of a Trained Leadership

The activities of revolutionary heroism started as a byproduct of the growth of militant nationalism. The first phase acquired a more activist form as a fallout of the Swadeshi and Boycott Movement and continued till 1917. The second phase started as a fallout of the Non-Cooperation Movement.

Indian Revolutionary Activities: Indian Freedom Fighters
  1879Vasudev Balwant Phadke, MaharashtraRamosi Peasant Force aimed to rid the country of the British by instigating an armed revolt by disrupting communication lines. It hoped to raise funds for its activities through dacoities but it was suppressed prematurely.
  1890sTilak, Maharashtra.He propagated militant nationalism through his journals Kesari and Maharatta (1881) and through Shivaji (1894) and Ganapati (1893) festivals.
1897Chapekar brothers, Damodar and Balkrishna, Maharashtra.Murdered the Plague Commissioner of Poona, Rand, and Lt. Ayerst.
  1899Savarkar and his brother, MaharashtraOrganized Mitra Mela, a secret society that merged with Abhinav Bharat (after Mazzini’s ‘Young Italy’) in 1904.
Soon Nasik, Poona, and Bombay emerged as centers of bomb manufacture
  1902Jnanendra Nath Basu.The revolutionary group in Midnapore
1906Promotha Mitter,
Jatindra Nath Banerjee,
Barindra Kumar Ghosh, and others.
Anushilan Samiti was founded in Calcutta
  1906Barindra Kumar Ghosh, Bhupendranath Dutta‘Yugantar’ weekly. The Yugantar wrote: “The remedy lies with the people. The 30 crore people inhabiting India must raise their 60 crore hands to stop this curse of oppression. Force must be stopped by force.”
1907Rashbehari Bose and Sachin SanyalOrganized a secret society covering Punjab, Delhi, and United Provinces. Hemachandra Kanungo went abroad for military and political training
  1907The Yugantar groupAn abortive attempt was made on the life of a very unpopular British official, Sir Fuller (the first Lt. Governor of the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam; attempts to derail the train on which the lieutenant-governor, Sri Andrew Fraser, was traveling.
1907  Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose.Threw a bomb at a carriage supposed to be carrying a white judge, Kingsford, in Muzaffarpur.
  1908Ghosh brothers,
Aurobindo and
The whole Anushilan group was arrested in the Alipore conspiracy case /Manicktolla bomb conspiracy or Muraripukur conspiracy. Aurobindo was acquitted of all charges but Barindra Ghosh and Ullaskar Dut were found guilty.
1908 Dacca Anushilan under Pulin DasBarrah dacoity to raise funds for revolutionary activities.
1909Anant Lakshman Kanhere, MaharashtraHe was a member of Abhinav Bharat and killed A.M.T. Jackson, the Collector of Nashik.
1912Rashbehari Bose and
Sachin Sanyal,
Basant Kumar Biswas,
Amir Chand and
Avadh Behari.
Staged a bomb attack on Viceroy Hardinge in a procession through Chandni Chowk, Delhi, all were convicted but Rashbehari Bose, known as the person behind the plan, escaped donning a disguise.

The western Anushilan Samiti was led by Jatindranath Mukherjee or Bagha Jatin and emerged as the Jugantar (or Yugantar). During the First World War, the Jugantar party arranged to import German arms and ammunition through sympathizers and revolutionaries abroad, as a part of the German plot (Zimmerman Plan). The Jugantar party raised funds through a series of dacoities known as taxi cab dacoities and boat dacoities, so as to work out the Indo-German conspiracy.

Indian Revolutionary Activities in Punjab

Lala Lajpat Rai brought out ‘Punjabee’ (motto – self-help at any cost), and Ajit Singh organized ‘Anjuman-i-Mohisban-i-Watan’ in Lahore with its journal, Bharat Mata, Other leaders included Aga Haidar, Syed Haider Raza, Bhai Parmanand, and the radical Urdu poet, Lalchand ‘Falak’.

Extremism in Punjab died down quickly after the government struck in May 1907 with a ban on political meetings and the deportation of Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh. Sufi Amba Prasad, Lalchand, Bhai Parmanand, Lala Hardayal developed into full-scale revolutionaries.

Rashbehari Bose was involved in the Ghadr Revolution. In 1913, he met Jatin to discuss the possibilities of an all-India armed rising of 1857 type. Then, they worked in cooperation, in extending the Bengal plan to Punjab and the upper provinces. As the plan for revolution did not succeed, he escaped to Japan in 1915. He played an important part in the founding of the Indian National Army.

Indian Revolutionary Activities Abroad

The need for shelter, the possibility of bringing out revolutionary literature that would be immune from the Press Acts, and the quest for arms took Indian revolutionaries abroad.

Shyamji Krishna VarmaStarted India House (a home rule league society) in 1905 in London, a scholarship scheme for Indian students and journal ‘The Indian Sociologist’.
Revolutionaries such as Savarkar and Hardayal became the members of India House.
Madanlal DhingraAssassinated India office bureaucrat Curzon- Wylie in 1909
Madame Bhikaji CamaA Parsi lady, operated from Paris, brought out ‘Bande Mataram’ (operated by Ajit Singh)
Virendranath ChattopadhyayaOperated from Berlin since 1909

The Ghadar Party

  • The Ghadr Party was a revolutionary group organized around a weekly newspaper The Ghadr with its headquarters in San Francisco and branches along the US coast and in the Far East.
  • These revolutionaries included mainly ex-soldiers and peasants who had migrated from Punjab to the USA and Canada in search of better employment opportunities.
  • Pre-Ghadr revolutionary activity had been carried on by Ramdas Puri, G.D. Kumar, Taraknath Das, Sohan Singh Bhakna, and Lala Hardayal who reached there in 1911.
  • To carry out revolutionary activities, the earlier activists had set up a ‘Swadesh Sevak Home’ in Vancouver and a ‘United India House’ in Seattle. Finally, in 1913, the Ghadr was established.
  • The Ghadr program was to organize assassinations of officials, publish revolutionary and anti-imperialist literature, work among Indian troops stationed abroad, procure arms, and bring about a simultaneous revolt in all British colonies.
  • The moving spirits behind the Ghadr Party were Lala Hardayal, Ramchandra, Bhagwan Singh, Kartar Singh Saraba, Barkatullah, and Bhai Parmanand.
  • The Ghadrites intended to bring about a revolt in India. Their plans were encouraged by two events in 1914 – the Komagata Maru incident and the outbreak of the First World War.

Komagata Maru Incident

  • Komagata Maru – a ship chartered from Singapore carrying Sikh and Punjabi Muslims was denied entry into Canada and forced to return to India.
  • The British government tried to detain the immigrants at Calcutta, in order to transport them to Punjab. The immigrants refused to give in. A tussle ensued in which 22 immigrants lost their lives.
  • The Ghadr leaders were inflamed by this incident. They planned to launch a violent attack to expel the British. Kartar Singh Saraba, Raghubar Dayal Gupta, Rashbehari Bose, and Sachin Sanyal were the prominent leaders involved.
  • February 21, 1915, was fixed as the date of the attack.
  • However, the British got to know about the attack, made preemptive arrests, and suppressed the movement.
  • Defence of India Act, of 1915 was the primary and most draconian tool used by the British to counter the Ghadr movement.

Revolutionaries in Europe

  • The Berlin Committee for Indian Independence was established in 1915 by Virendranath Chattopadhyay, Bhupendranath Dutta, Lala Hardayal, and others with the help of the German foreign office under ‘Zimmerman Plan’
  • The Indian revolutionaries in Europe sent missions to Baghdad, Persia, Turkey, and Kabul to work among Indian troops and the Indian prisoners of war (POWs) and to incite anti-British feelings among the people of these countries.
  • One mission under Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, Barkatullah, and Obaidullah Sindhi went to Kabul to organize a ‘provisional Indian government’ there with the help of the crown prince, Amanullah.

Mutiny in Singapore

  • Among the scattered mutinies during this period, the most notable was in Singapore on February 15, 1915, by the Punjabi Muslim 5th Light Infantry and the 36th Sikh battalion under Jamadar Chisti Khan, Jamadar Abdul Gani, and Subedar Daud Khan.
  • It was crushed after a fierce battle in which many were killed. Later, 37 persons were executed and 41 were transported for life.


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