The history of Indian Freedom
Struggle can be divided in to three stages. First
stage was before ‘the First War of Independence
1857’ (The battle of Plassey was in 1757
and it success paved the way to strengthen the
political power of British East India Company
in India.) Unorganized and localized fighting
known as Resistance Movement carried through by
patriots like Pazhassi Raja; popularly known as
the Lion of Kerala (died on 1805) and Veluthampi
Dalawa (died on1809).
The 2nd stage was during 1857 to 1919, when the
strong feeling and thirst for freedom developed
and agitation initiated all over the country against
the British East India Company.
The 3rd stage was during 1920 to 1947, when organizations
were formed national wide and well organized meetings,
Sathyagrahas, demonstrations were arranged and
launched a series of mass movements - the Non
Cooperation Movement, the Civil Disobedience Movement
etc .This has developed step by step and unbeaten
strength, unity, oneness amongst Indians and that
lead to independence .
The 2nd and 3rd stages are considered the milestones
in Freedom Struggle and let us see the details
The First War of Independence (1857-58)
It was the first general agitation against the
rule of the British East India Company. The Doctrine
of Lapse, issue of cartridges greased with cow
and pig fat to Indian soldiers at Meerut ‘triggered
the fire’. Further, the introduction of
British system of education and a number of social
reforms had infuriated a very wide section of
the Indian people, soon became a widespread agitation
and posed a grave challenge to the British rule.
As a result of this agitation the East India Company
was brought under the direct rule of the British
Even though the British succeeded in crushing
it within a year, it was certainly a popular revolt
in which the Indian rulers, the masses and the
militia participated so enthusiastically that
it came to be regarded as the First War of Indian
Rani Lakshmibai was the great heroine of the First
war of India Freedom. She showed the embodiment
of patriotism, self-respect and heroism. She was
the queen of a small state, but the empress of
a limitless empire of glory.
2.2. Partition of Bengal;
Swadeshi Movement (1905)
Swadeshi Movement emanated from the partition
of Bengal, 1905 and continued up to 1908.
It was a successful economic strategy to remove
the British Empire from power and improve economic
conditions in India through following principles
of swadeshi (self-sufficiency).
Women joined men to protest this division by boycotting
foreign goods and buying only Swadeshi goods,
i.e. goods produced in the territory of Bengal.
Mrs. Nonibala Devi joined the new Jugantar Party
which was dedicated to aggressive movement.
Jalianwalabagh massacre (1919)
General Dyer's Jalianwala Bagh massacre followed
the strike wave, when an unarmed crowd of 10,000
Baisakhi celebrators was mercilessly attacked
with over 1600 rounds of ammunition. Yet, Gandhi
continued to advocate cooperation with the British
in December 1919, even as the resistance of ordinary
Indians continued. The first six months of 1920
saw an even greater level of mass resistance,
with no less than 200 strikes taking place involving
1.5 million workers. It was in response to this
rising mass revolutionary tide that the leadership
of the Congress was forced to confront its conservatism
and give a somewhat more militant face to its
program. The "non-violent non-cooperation"
movement was thus launched under the stewardship
of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Lajpat Rai and
Non-cooperation movement launched (1920)
Karamchand Gandhi returned to India from South Africa
in 1915 and took up the demand for self-rule and
non-cooperation movement. Sarla Devi, Muthulaxmi
Reddy, Susheela Nair, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Sucheta
Kripalani and Aruna Asaf Ali are some the women
who participated in the non-violent movement. Kasturba
Gandhi, the wife of Mahatma Gandhi, and the women
of the Nehru family, Kamla Nehru, Vijaya Lakshmi
Pandit and Swarup Rani, also participated in the
National Movement. Lado Rani Zutshi and her daughters
Manmohini, Shyama and Janak led the movement in
Poorna Swaraj declaration by the Congress; Meerut
conspiracy case (1929)
Mahathma Gandhi later demanded for Poorna Swaraj
through non-violent methods. His call to join
the Satyagraha Movement witnessed women getting
involved in all his programmes. Some of the important
women who played a very active role in the Swadeshi
Movement were Dr. Sarojini Naidu, Smt. Urmila
Devi, the widowed sister of the Congress leader
C.R. Das, wife of C.R. Das, Biamma, the mother
of Shokat Ali and Mohmad Ali, leader of All India
Khilafat Committee, Durgabai Deshmukh, Smt. S.
Ambujammal, Smt. Basanti Devi, and Krishnabai
Ram of Madras and so on.
2.6. Civil Disobedience;
the Dandi Salt March (1930)
Gandhiji inaugurated the Civil Disobedience Movement
by conducting the historic Dandi Salt March, where
he broke the Salt Laws imposed by the British
Government. Followed by an entourage of seventy
nine ashram inmates, Gandhi embarked on his march
from his Sabarmati Ashram on a 200 mile trek to
the remote village Dandi that is located on the
shores of the Arabian Sea. On 6th April 1930,
Gandhi with the accompaniment of seventy nine
satyagrahis, violated the Salt Law by picking
up a fistful of salt lying on the sea shore.
The Civil Disobedience Movement was an important
milestone in the history of Indian Independence.
The aim of this movement was a complete disobedience
of the orders of the British Government. During
this movement it was decided that India would
celebrate 26th January as Independence Day all
over the country. On 26th January 1930, meetings
were held all over the country and the Congress
tri- colour flag was hoisted. The British Government
tried to repress the movement and resorted to
brutal firing, killing hundreds of people. Thousands
were arrested along with Gandhiji and Jawaharlal
Nehru. But the movement spread to all the four
corners of the country.
(During this time, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru
were arrested on the charges of throwing a bomb
in the Central Assembly Hall (which is now Lok
Sabha). And they were hanged to death on March
Women too, played an active role in the struggle.
Sarojini Naidu, Aruna Asaf Ali and Bhikaji Cama,
to name but a few, inspired millions of others
to take the first step on the road to emancipation
Although The Civil Disobedience Movement failed
to achieve an immediate positive outcome, it was
an important juncture in the history of Indian
independence; it enabled masses to rediscover
their inherent strength and confidence to crusade
against the British.
2.7. The Quit India Movement
August 1942, the Quit India movement was launched.
"I want freedom immediately, this very night
before dawn if it can be had. We shall free India
or die in the attempt, we shall not live to see
the perpetuation of our slavery", declared
the Mahatma, as the British resorted to brutal
repression against non-violent satyagrahis. The
Quit India resolution, taken against British,
directly addressed women "as disciplined
soldiers of Indian freedom", required to
sustain the flame of war.
Usha Mehta, a committed patriot set up a radio
transmitter, called The "Voice of Freedom"
to disseminate the "mantra" of freedom-war.
News of protest and arrests, deeds of young nationalists,
and Gandhi’s famous "Do or Die"
message for the Quit India movement were circulated
amongst the masses. Usha Mehta and her brother
persisted with their task of broadcasting until
acts proved that the British could maintain the
empire only at enormous cost due to wide spread