“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Today’s India is an independent and democratic country where the people are enjoying their rights and living with freedom. This would not has been possible without the struggle and sacrifices of our freedom fighters. Their selfless struggle and patriotism for their country is the sole cause of the freedom that we are enjoying today. India got its Independence on August 15, 1947, but the first spark of revolution, the Indian Mutiny, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny began in 1857. The timeline of Indian history from 1857 to 1947 traces the continuous and rigorous efforts that our freedom fighters took to free the nation. And after 200 long years of slavery, oppression and colonization came to an end. Not only that, due to the conflicts between the countries, there are day-to-day attacks by our enemy countries. But our soldiers are always there on the borders because of whom we live peacefully and stress-free. The soldiers are performing their duty with full dedication and every week, some sacrifice their lives for protecting the sovereignty of the nation. So, it becomes our moral duty to remember and pay tribute to those who sacrificed for the country and also to those who are on the borders to protect us.
WHAT IS SHAHEED DIWAS?
‘Martyrs’ Day’ or ‘the Shaheed Diwas’ is an annual day observed in a country to pay homage to the victims who fought for the freedom, glory, welfare and progress of their country. India is one of the fifteen countries who celebrate Martyr’s Day to give respect to their freedom fighters. India has declared six days i.e. 30 January, 23 March, 19 May, 21 October, 17 November, 19 November as Martyr’s Day that are named in the honour of some freedom fighters of the nation.
SIGNIFICANCE OF SHAHEED DIWAS
January 30 is annually observed as the ‘Shaheed Diwas’ in India at the national level. This date was chosen for observing such a huge event as it marks the death anniversary of our ‘Father of The Nation’ – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. On this day in 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Godse in the compound of Birla House while he was returning from one of his routine multi-faith prayer meetings. A lawyer, politician, leader, social reformer and a nationalist, Gandhi is one of the leading figures of the Indian independence movement. “Satya” or Truth and “Ahimsa” or non-violence were his two most important guiding principles and also his weapons which he wielded against the British Empire to secure the freedom of India. He was also a champion of the minority rights and devoted his life in building and strengthening communal harmony, particularly between the Hindu and Muslim communities. He is fondly remembered as Bapu. So, in order to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and to inspire the people to follow his principles & work for their country, we observe 30 January as Shaheed Diwas every year.
HOW IS IT CELEBRATED?
On this day, the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister and the three Service Chiefs (Army, Air Force and Navy) lay wreaths made of multi-colour flowers at the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat in Delhi. The personnel of armed forces blow bugles sounding the Last Post and the inter-services contingent reverse arms to pay their respect. A two-minute silence is observed nationwide at 11 AM to remember the martyrs who laid down their lives for the country. There is also a tradition of holding all-religion prayers and singing tributes for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY SHAHEED?
We generally use the term ‘Shaheed’ for our freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives while struggling for Independence and for those soldiers who are killed in any attack or in an operation. Shaheed and Martyr are the religious terms having their special meanings in Islamic and Christian history. Martyr, literally means "witness" or a person died because of adherence to a cause and especially to one’s religious faith. Shaheed is an Arabic term derived from the word martyr, but this became more popular after introduction of Islam in 7th century A.D. In today’s time, it has also been closely associated with death in battle. But the Indian Military and Ministry of Defence had officially announced that there is no term as ‘Martyr’ or ‘Shaheed’ in the military or the police. They use ‘Battle Casualty’ for a soldier killed in action and ‘Operations Casualty’ for a policeman killed in action.
ROLE OF LAWYERS IN FREEDOM STRUGGLE
The freedom movement was led by lawyers. Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi, Rajendra Prasad and Jawaharlal Nehru were all prominent lawyers. They inspired lawyers from all over the country to join the freedom struggle. More than a dozen lawyers of Kanpur gave significant contribution in freedom movement from 1911. First and foremost of them was Prithi Nath Chak. Besides him, Moti Lal Nehru, Kailash Nath Katju, Iqbal Krishna Kapoor, Parmanand Khandoori, Mahesh Chandra Chaudhary, Rai Som Naryan, Mukund Charan Nigam, Gajpat Rai Saxena, Ishwar Chandra Tripathi, Dharmvesh Singh, Sriram Jalote, Ram Kishore Misra and Govind Narayan Shukla contributed in freedom movement. After the First war of Independence in 1857 and its aftermath, the formation of Indian National Congress in 1885 marked the beginning of a new era in the national movement. The era was of moderates like Dadabhai Naoroji and Sundernath Bannerjee while Madan Mohan Malviya and Motilal Nehru, amongst others, were important moderate leaders who were lawyers by profession. The moderates believed in the system of constitutionalism.
Lawyers like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who was an extremist, gave a new direction to the INC. Tilak began a new phase of more radical thought within the organization. He put forth new ideas and methods of opposing the imperialist rule and advocated stronger actions like the boycott of foreign goods and the policy of swadeshi (self reliance). He did not believe that the British rule was beneficial and instead felt that their rule was extremely harmful. He introduced the idea of Swaraj (complete independence) way back in 1897 with his famous statement, ”Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it”.
Factors took forward by them were:
•Fighting the British in court
•The era of mass movements
•Round table conferences
•Second World War and the Quit India Movement
•Cabinet Mission and Partition
A lot of freedom fighters and the soldiers sacrificed their lives to provide us such a life having freedom and comfort. We should neither forget their contribution nor let it to get wasted. We should respect them and try to follow their path by working for the development of our country.
- “Glory lies in the attempt to reach one’s goal and not in reaching it”
- “Permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence”
- “The future depends on what you do today”
- “You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results”