India at 70: Uttar Pradesh on the freedom trail...
Uttar Pradesh remained an epicenter of activity during the freedom movement of India.Updated: Aug 11, 2017 15:58 IST
In changing times when historical places are more or less restricted to history books, we highlight key places in Uttar Pradesh that remained an epicentre of activity during the freedom movement.
GENERAL POST OFFICE (GPO)
Lucknow: Present General Post Office (GPO) and erstwhile ‘Ring Theatre’ has witnessed a gamut of changes. “Building was used by the British families for organising cultural events, screening movies, holding parties and for other recreational purposes. And there was a display board bearing text—Dogs and Indians are not allowed,” said Yogesh Praveen, a noted historian. The building, Praveen said got also famous due to the ‘Kakori train tragedy’ trial as it turned into the special court where the whole trial took place. “It was later in 1929-1932, the then GPO which was situated inside the Begum Kothi (now known as Janpath) was shifted to this building and thus, getting permanently transformed,” he added.
AMAR SHAHEED STAMBH
Bareilly: Standing in one corner of the busy commissioner’s office, this obelisk in black was erected in place of an old banyan tree that stood witness to the freedom movement and British atrocities. “It was at this place where 257 revolutionaries were hanged with the branches of the tree during the revolt of 1857 after British government found them guilty,” reads the plaque on the obelisk.
PURANI CHUNGI IN AGRA
Agra:The Purani Chungi ground adjoining Yamuna Kinara road is a silent reminder of the independence struggle, when freedom fighters gathered here during British rule. The ground also bears testimony to the martyrdom of a youth who laid down his life for the nation here during August Kranti on August 10, 1942.
“ Earlier, Independence Day was celebrated here but now the present generation is not aware of the importance of this place and the martyrdom of Parushram, a 19- year-old youth who made the supreme sacrifice during August Kranti in 1942,” recollects veteran freedom fighter Shashi Shiromani.
“There was a municipal office in the adjoining building which was, in fact, a library set up by Dara Shikoh, brother of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Now a girls’ school is run in part of this red sandstone building,” says Shiromani.
Kanpur: The city has a few places of historic importance related to country’s Independence, but almost none of them is protected.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has only protected the Gora Kabristan, where the British officers were laid to rest.
On the completion of 150 years of the First War of Independence in year 2007, several British nationals came to the cemetery to pay homage to their loved ones.
The Satti Chaura Ghat south of the city and Bibi Ghar in the heart of the city are places of interest as well. Since about 300 Britishers, including women and children, were killed here during the First War of Independence in 1857, the ghat was named Massacre Ghat by the British.
The British, who had escaped from Satti Chaura Ghat, were killed at Bibi Ghar in the Mall Road area and the place was named Nana Rao Park. Nana Rao Peshwa is said to have sparked the revolt against the British.
BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY (BHU)
Varanasi: Banaras Hindu University (BHU) was founded by the great nationalist leader Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya in 1916 in association with personalities such as Dr Annie Besant.
It was viewed as the University of India. It played a crucial role in the independence movement and developed into one of the greatest centres of learning in India. It has produced many great freedom fighters and builders of modern India.
Meerut: A high-rise ‘Shahid Smarak’ made of white marble proudly stands in the middle of the town adjacent to Bhainsali ground which reminds people about the martyrs who sacrificed their lives during the First War of Independence in 1857.
A group of 85 native soldiers, both Hindus and Muslims, laid the foundation of the First War of Independence against the British by refusing to use cartridges reportedly greased with fat of pig and cow.
They were arrested and humiliated in public which eventually triggered the uprising on May 10, 1857. It was, however, quelled by the British. A museum was set up here which has paintings depicting valour of native soldiers and important episodes of the war.
The motive of establishing museum was to make people aware of the supreme sacrifices by the native soldiers. But barring a few occasions like the Independence Day, the Republic Day and Kranti Diwas very few people visit the memorial. Sometimes, students and teachers of schools visit the place to collect information about the war of freedom.
Gorakhpur: Gita Press occupies a pride of place for publishing over 65 crore books from Mahabharata, Ramayana, Ram Charitmanas and Shrimad Bhagwad Gita to books on numerous fasts and rituals observed in Hindu homes books since its inception in 1923. The books are published in more than 14 languages.
Post Independence, the press increased its production and publication work keeping in mind its mission to provide access to Gita and Ramayan to everyone at low price. It has also been publishing monthly magazine Kalyan for the last 95 years without any break and more than 3 lakh copies are sold every month across the country.
“When you tell someone you belong to Gorakhpur, the first thing they ask is it the same place where Gita Press is located? Publishing 65 crore books is a major achievement,” said Arun Tripathi, a social activist.
WITNESS TO AZAD’S MARTYRDOM
Allahabad: Perhaps the most famous park to be associated with Indian Freedom Struggle, the present Chandra Shekhar Azad Park was constructed in the heart of Allahabad in 1870 to mark the visit of Prince Alfred to the city. During the times of British rule in India, the Alfred Park often witnessed music performances of the police band that were preceded by official ceremonies.
“On February 27, 1931, freedom fighter Chandra Shekhar Azad came to the park to meet a fellow freedom fighter Sukhdev. However, one of Azad’s close friends tipped the police about this visit in return for money. The park was soon surrounded by policemen working for the British and Azad fought valiantly to let Sukhdev escape. After a gun battle in which he managed to kill three policemen, he sustained bullet injury in his thigh. Azad shot himself in the head with the last bullet in his pistol to keep his promise of never being caught alive. After Independence, the park was named Chandra Shekhar Azad Park. Azad’s statue was also erected at the spot of his martyrdom,” said historian and professor of medieval and modern history at Allahabad University, Prof Yogeshwar Tiwari.
The park is frequented on special occasion like Independence Day and Republic Day by locals and dignitaries alike while usual days just witness couples trying to steal a few moments of privacy here.
First Published: Aug 11, 2017 15:26 IST