Dr. Hedgewar returned to Nagpur after obtaining a degree in medicine from National Medical College Kolkata. At the same time, he remained active in revolutionary activities of Anushilan Samiti. After he returned, he was flooded with offers of job and matrimonial proposals. He could have even started his own practice. But Dr. Hedgewar clearly told his family and his acquaintances that he had decided to remain unmarried to dedicate his whole life for the cause of the nation. These proposals stopped thereafter and he was totally free to pursue his self-imposed hard and difficult life dedicated to mother land.
Dr. Hedgewar,s Plan in Action
While in Kolkata Dr. Hedgewar had detailed discussion with Anushilan Samiti leaders about planning a great war of independence more severe than that of 1857. The reasons for failure of the political mission of 1857 and avoiding repetitions of such shortcomings and mistakes were discussed in detail. Within days of returning to Nagpur, he started procuring weapons and human resources. Revolutionary circle of Dr. Hedgewar discussed the plan of asking young people to join the army in large numbers and once they were well trained, armed rebellion could be started.
At that time clouds of the 1st world war had started gathering. British rulers were facing the challenge of saving their worldwide imperialism from collapsing. Their position in India had become very pitiable. Spread of revolutionary activities in every corner of India, Swadeshi movement led by national leaders of extremist groups and rise of angry sentiments of common people to eradicate foreign rule had created fear and sense of insecurity among Britishers. In this environment, British rulers felt the need of support from some sections of Indians. It was natural that they would not had got help from extremist group. Business minded British rulers knew very well about this fact. So, they pinned their hope on moderates in Congress party which they (A.O. Hume) had nurtured. British rulers had proposed that a status of Dominion state could be given to India. They were successful in their design and both groups of Congress landed in their trap.
Dr. Hedgewar was of the opinion that we should take advantage of the under pressure British army at that time and an attempt of a nationwide organised armed revolution against foreign rule should be made. Dr. Hedgewar discussed his proposal with both groups of Congress for several days but both groups were got carried away by that illusion that they would get some tangible benefit from British rulers. Thus, that historical opportunity of throwing them out was lost. Their illusion got cleared when British rulers instead of giving them some concession tightened their ruthless rule after the war.
Decision of Organised Armed Revolution
Dr. Hedgewar was greatly dismayed by the response of the moderate and extremists group of Congress but he did not lose hope. He decided a nationwide organised armed revolution and started his preparations in that direction. His childhood friend Bhau ji Kanvere, a fire brand revolutionary, gave Dr. Hedgewar his full support in this decision. Ras Behari Bose who was carrying a torch of rebellion abroad also joined to make that proposed great uprising a success. Dr. Hedgewar started his great mission by visiting Madhya Pradesh and adjoining states to gather all resources to launch an armed revolution.
Dr. Hedgewar already had close relations with revolutionaries of Central province, Bengal and Punjab. He launched several steps to inspire youth to join the armed revolution. At several places cultural programmes were held to create awareness and ground for the great revolution. Similarly, gyms and reading rooms were established to train youth for armed revolution. These steps were meant to confuse British authorities. In these centres, young people were selected on the basis of their traits of velour, courage and sacrificing potential. Young revolutionaries were appraised about inspiring stories of war of independence of 1857, life stories of Shivaji Maharaj and about daring activities of Anushilan Samiti.
Dr. Hedgewar organised a band of 200 revolutionaries in a short period of time by inculcating strong nationalism and patriotism in them. These young men were assigned the job of organising groups of revolutionaries in other states. Dr. Hedgewar sent a group of 25 young revolutionaries under the command of Ganga Prasad, an old acquaintance of Dr. Hedgewar from Wardha, to north Indian states. Dr. Hedgewar had gathered necessary funds in Nagpur itself. Dr. Hedgewar had some intellectual and learned book lovers. Their almirahs and boxes were used to store guns and ammunition. He also managed to get ammunition supplies from Kamti cantonment near Nagpur.
Dr. Hedgewar’s attitude towards British imperialism and his strong conviction about how to bring British rulers to their knees give us an idea about his profound thinking. He always opposed those having loyalty to British rulers and compromising leaders. Dr. Hedgewar ‘ s effort was no less an attempt to fight a second war of independence after 1857 against Britishers. The War of Independence of 1857 was a failure from a political point of view due to weak leadership of Bhadurshah Zafar, Britisher’s ruthless suppression and divide and rule policy. But the freedom struggle of 1917-18 failed to take off before it was launched due to the support from top Congress leaders to Britishers during the f1st world war. Due to this behaviour of Congress, the crumbling empire in India got a new lease of life which ultimately took another 30 years to throw off.
No Dearth of Strong Convictions
Great uprising more severe than 1857 that was visualised by Dr. Hedgewar could not be achieved to its logical end, but his conviction to achieve his life mission did not diminish. The confidence, courage and strategy with which he used to gather weapons and human resources to fight britishers, was used again to dismantle and disperse the preparations of the great uprising effectively so that none of his colleagues would land in trouble with British rulers.
Revolutionary leaders under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Hedgewar cleverly disposed of all infrastructure before the same could be found out by British authorities who were shell shocked to find that they could not lay their hands on any evidence. One advantage of keeping secret of this scale of preparation was that no one was victimised and put to any difficulty. But on the other hand, great loss that is now being felt, is that preparations of anti-British upheaval of such scale could not find place in history.
…………….to be continued
(Writer is senior journalist and columnist).