The Great Struggle for Independence

Anushree Kshirsigar
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Written by Anushree Kshirsigar, aged 16 (the story of my great-great-grandfather)

This story takes place In India in the era of the British Raj. It revolves around my great-great-grandfather (Gopal Krishna Kshirsagar) who also played a role in achieving freedom. This story is about his struggles and achievement that affected his family and neighbours back then.

Anushree Kshirsigar | Photo: Radio Prague International

A boom occurred, as a projectile moved through the air at supersonic speed with a sharp thwacking noise. The bullet punched its way through the British commissioner’s chest, it quickly filled with blood and gushed out. Jackson fell to the ground, a pool of blood formed around him and soaked into his clothes as he choked to death. This chaos took place in a theatre. The Commissioner of Mumbai was murdered by AnantLaxman Kanhere and his revolutionary group.

This terrifying incident petrified people and they ran in haste. However, one man stood there, with frozen feet, paralyzed from shock. He was none other than my great-great-great grandpa. He stared at the commissioner who lay there with awe, still with great shock. The event completely mesmerized him as it was an Indian revolutionary movement in the state of Maharashtra. He was extremely inspired by Anant Laxman Kanhere and his revolutionary group who took a huge step against the British government in order to gain Independence in India. My great-great-great grandpa told stories to my great-great-grandfather (his son) when he was young and encouraged him to become a part of freedom fighting for the motherland. My great-great grandfather’s name was Gopal Krishna Kshirsagar, he was born in 1917. The revolutionary thinking was developed in him from a very young age as he saw the situation and people suffering during the atrocities of the era of the British Raj.

In 1936, when he was 19 years old, he joined the secret revolutionary group in Nashik known as the Abhinav Bharat society (Young India Society). It was the Indian Independence secret society, created to fight for the dignity of the motherland. Since freedom is never gained for free, it comes at the cost of lives and struggles. Many ordinary people selflessly gave their lives. The winds of the revolutions were blowing all over India. Live or die for the freedom of our country was the ultimate goal for passionate young freedom fighters. Two major groups were emerging, one with “Non-violence” and second with “Violence” as a principle of freedom fighting.

Let's Write | Photo: Radio Prague International

Non-violence groups were protesting against the British, by marching or going on hunger strikes. But the entire process was controlled by the British as they had all authorities, like lawyers and judges under their influence. So ultimately they were putting protestors in jail. Though this process certainly created an impact, a second group of people, including my great-great-grandfather, never liked this slow and philosophical process approach as they were clear in their minds that violence has to be answered back with violence to pass a strong message to the British.

In the “Youth Innovation Movement” group, my great-great-grandfather played the vital role of a “secret agent” to provide information about a British group and their movements. It was a very risky role and a single mistake could lead to a punishment of a lifelong jail sentence. Knowing this impact, my great-great-grandfather had accepted the challenge without thinking about the danger to his life. He was pretending to be a common man in day-to-day life to avoid any doubts about him as a secret agent but working relentlessly on secret missions. He was providing critical information of British police plans and missions details and government documents to the main leaders of the Youth Innovation Movement group. Many important milestones had been successfully achieved by his group based on his vital information. He was a hidden hero in a freedom fighters’ group.

Unfortunately, one day during his secret mission my great-great-grandfather got caught by one of the local British officers and subsequently sent him to jail. Although he had to face a very brutal treatment from the British in jail, he did not speak a single word on any evidence of secret missions. After facing the court case, he was sentenced to five years in jail. The days of his life in jail were very tough. He was kept in a dark cell for five years, treated with inferior quality of food and was not allowed to have any meetings with family or friends. He was totally isolated to avoid any connections with people and didn’t even have access to newspapers. The British treated him as a big traitor. My great-great-grandfather was separated from other prisoners and he was always locked with heavy metal chains around his neck, hands and legs. The British were doing all they could to break his patience and were looking to receive information about his group's secret missions. Salute to my great-great-grandfather, even though he was suffering through all these painful treatments he never revealed any information. His health was deteriorating day by day and unfortunately, he died in a few months of his return after finishing the punishment, still in his 30s, in the year 1947; unfortunately, he missed seeing the sunrise of Free India as India got freedom on 15th March 1947.

He died happily with a sense of satisfaction as he contributed to a great extent, making many secret missions successful that impacted British morale to a large extent, although his work always remained hidden in history as he was a hidden hero behind the scenes. But my great-great-grandfather is a heroic inspiration to many generations in our family and in his village, and we are proud of his patriotic sacrifice and revolutionary mindset which always gives us a motivation to face any challenges in today's modern life, to take our country to the top of the world’s map for growth, prosperity and as a symbol of unity.

A person dies but their work and thoughts always remain immortal!

Author: Anushree Kshirsigar
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