The movement to throw off the yoke of British rule in India began in 1857, but we could gain independence only in 1947. This long struggle was marked by several events. Here are some important ones.
By Arun Sharma
Every year, on the 15th of August, we celebrate Independence Day. We salute our ‘Tiranga’, sing our national anthem, and pay homage to all those who struggled to give us the invaluable gift of independence.
However, not many of us know much about our freedom movement; for, many events transpired during this really long struggle. So, to add to what you already know, we bring to you 20 key events from our freedom struggle that you should also teach your child. Let’s start from the first event that marked the beginning of the Indian freedom movement.
1. Sepoy Mutiny, 1857: Sepoy Mangal Pandey’s rebellion against British officers on 29 March 1857 lit the spark of the freedom struggle in India.
2. Battle of Jhansi, 1858: Rani Lakshmi Bai died fighting the British army on 18 June 1858.
3. Transfer of Administration, 1858: By passing an act in the British parliament on 2 August 1858, all the powers and properties of the East India Company were transferred to the Queen.
4. Indian National Congress, 1885: AO Hume, a retired British officer, founded the Indian National Congress on 28 December 1885.
5. Partition of Bengal, 1905: Bengal was partitioned along religious lines on 16 October 1905. It was carried out by the British viceroy in India, Lord Curzon.
6. Muslim League, 1906: The Muslim League, which played a key role in the partition of India, was founded on 31 December 1906.
7. Execution of Khudiram Bose, 1908: One of the youngest freedom fighters, Khudiram Bose, was hanged on 11 August 1908. He was 18 years, 8 months and 8 days old when he was hanged.
8. Indian Press Act, 1910: The British brought in the Indian Press Act in 1910 to impose strict censorship on the Indian press. It was promulgated to prevent the Indian press from supporting the freedom movement.
9. Reunion of Bengal, 1911: Lord Hardinge revoked the partition of Bengal to make administration easier and stop further protest against the partition.
10. Ghadar Party, 1913: Indians in the United States and Canada founded the Ghadar Party to fight for India’s freedom.
11. Gandhiji returns to India, 1915: Gandhiji returned to India from South Africa on 9 January 1915. He landed in Mumbai and later led the freedom struggle.
12. Champaran Satyagraha, 1917: This was the first civil disobedience movement of India. It led to the discontinuation of the forced cultivation of indigo.
13. Rowlatt Act and Rowlatt Satyagraha, 1919: This Act was passed on 18 March 1919. It gave the government the powers to indefinitely detain suspects or incarcerate without trial and judicial review. On 6 April 1919, Indians organised a protest against the Rowlatt Act. This protest was called the Rowlatt Satyagraha.
14. Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, 1919: On 13 April 1919, General Dyer ordered his troops to fire at a gathering of peaceful protesters at Jallianwala Bagh, a public garden in Amritsar. It was one of the saddest events in the history of the Indian freedom movement.
15. Non-cooperation movement, 1920–22: This was a non-violent movement, which exhorted Indians to boycott all institutions set up by the British, like courts, schools, councils and so on.
16. Chauri Chaura, 1922: Protesters participating in the non-cooperation movement set fire to a police station after they were fired at by the police. This prompted Gandhiji to withdraw the non-cooperation movement.
17. Death of Lala Lajpat Rai, 1928: Lala Lajpat Rai led the protest against Simon Commission on 30 October 1928. Many protesters including Lala Lajpat Rai were injured when the police assaulted them with batons. He could not recover from his injuries and died on 17 November 1928.
18. Declaration of Purna Swaraj, 1930: The Indian National Congress promulgated the Declaration of the Independence of India or Purna Swaraj on 26 January 1920.
19. Civil Disobedience Movement, 1930: Gandhiji started the Civil Disobedience Movement on 12 March 1930 by starting a march from his ashram in Ahmedabad to Dandi. This march was also known as the Dandi March or Salt Satyagraha.
20. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, 1931: These three freedom fighters made the supreme sacrifice on 23 March 1931. They were hanged in Lahore jail for taking part in the Lahore Conspiracy.
Today, we live in an independent country and enjoy all rights because of the sacrifices made by our forefathers. This Independence Day, let’s assume the responsibility of taking our country forward in the direction that our freedom fighters envisioned. Let our children become the torch-bearers of our history.
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