Martyr Anant Kanhere
Many patriots sacrificed their lives in the freedom fight for an Independent Hindustan and thus kept the sacred fire of freedom blazing. On 19th April 1910, martyr Anant Lakshman Kanhere sacrificed his life. Let us remember him on the anniversary of the day he attained martyrdom !
Anant Lakshman Kanhere
“In the people’s court, punishment for those, who treat Hindu people as worthless is death and I did the auspicious job of giving such a punishment to Jackson. I want to tell the people that they should give the most severe punishment to such offenders in their court.” – Martyr Anant Lakshman Kanhere
A youth hailing from Konkan goes to Aurangabad for secondary education; he takes part in revolutionary activities, comes across a pistol sent by Swa. Savarakar and he kills a scheming Britisher holding a high level post; everything seems so unfathomable and impossible ! But the name of the young man, who made such an impossible feat possible, was Anantrao Lakshman Kanhere. Anantrao was born in the year 1891 at Ayani-Mete in Ratnagiri District. One of the ancestors of Anantrao was killed in the battle of Panipat.
Tolerant, determined and brave Anantrao Kanhere
Anantrao used to stay with his friend Gangaram Marwadi, who was a businessman, in connection with his studies. Ganagram had taken the oath of ‘Abhinav Bharat’. Gangaram first put Anantrao to the test before giving him the oath of patriotism. He once kept a pair of hot iron tongs on Anantrao’s hand. He bore being burnt with grit and determination. Once, he asked Anantrao to hold the hot glass of a lit lamp. Anantrao held in both his palms. He did not let go of the glass although his palms were being singed. Gopalrao Dharap was a member of Abhinav Bharat in Nashik. His attempt was to get more youth to join this organization. Anantrao was enraged when he learnt that Babarao Savarkar was shackled and paraded in public due to tyrannical Jackson. He expressed his wish to Gopalrao to eliminate Jackson.
Hypocrite, vindictive Jackson
Jackson, the district collector of Nashik tried his best to see that people were scared of the British and they kept away from any efforts towards acquiring independence. He learnt Sanskrut and Marathi for this. He used to say that he was a learned Brahmin in his previous birth, who had knowledge of the ‘Vedas’. This was only a trick of his to deceive innocent and simple people. There was one British officer named William who had kicked to death an innocent farmer; but Jackson tried to protect him. He punished all the youth who sang ‘Vande Mataram’. He proved advocate Khare to be mad for providing legal aid to the patriots and sent him to jail in Dharwad. He drove away a scholar, Tambe Shastri from Nashik who used to create awareness amongst the youth about independence through the old stories from the ‘Puranas’. He got Babarao Savarkar arrested for publishing patriotic songs and paraded him in shackles. Babarao was transported from Nashik. The hypocritical and cruel Jackson became a thorn in the side of revolutionaries.
Preparations for Jackson’s killing
On 19th September 1909, Anantrao went to Nashik from Aurangabad by train. He was given his own gun by Vinayakrao Deshpande. He practiced shooting with that gun in a deserted place. He went to the district collector’s office and observed Jackson. He got him photographed with the thought that he would be hanged after killing Jackson; therefore, after his death, his parents and brother should at least have one photograph in his memory.
Jackson was promoted from the post of district collector and was transferred from Nashik. Programs were being arranged to bid him farewell. The revolutionaries thought that it would become difficult to kill Jackson once he was transferred from Nashik and therefore, they decided to kill him soon. Anna Karve was in Nashik at that time. He made a plan to kill Jackson. On 29th December 1909, a Marathi drama titled ‘Sharda’ was staged by Kirloskar Theaters in honour of Jackson and in the interval of this play, there was going to be a felicitation of Jackson followed by a few speeches. Anna Karve finalized this day to kill Jackson. He gave two Browning pistols, sent by Swa. Savarkar from London, to Anantrao. It was decided that after firing at Jackson, he should shoot himself or eat a poisonous sweet. In case Anantrao failed to kill Jackson, Anna Karve would do the job and if even he failed, Vinayakrao Deshpande would fire at Jackson.
Killing of Jackson !
On 21st December 1909, a show of the Marathi play ‘Sharda’ was to be staged at Vijayanand Theatre in Nashik by the Kirloskar theatre group. As Jackson was entering the theatre hall, Anantrao swiftly took out his revolver and shot at Jackson from behind but the bullet missed the target and flew past Jackson’s hand; then immediately, Anantrao came forward and shot 4 times at Jackson from thefront. Bleeding, Jackson collapsed on the floor. Police officer Todarmal grabbed Anantrao. Khopkar removed the pistol from him. Panashikar hit him on his head with his stick which caused a wound and it started bleeding. Although Anantrao could have taken out his other pistol, he said to Panashikar, “I am forgiving you only because you are a Hindu.” Later, Anantrao was disarmed. He was standing there very calmly and bravely. He told Todarmal and Khopkar, “I carried out this auspicious act to take revenge for the oppression of Hindu people by the British. I punished the oppressor Jackson with death. I do not want to run away.” Anna Karve and Deshpande succeeded in leaving the theatre unnoticed.
Court’s verdict in Jackson’s case
In his testimony, Anantrao said, “I carried out this act on my own without anyone’s help or guidance.” He did not disclose any information about his associates to the police and told them that he bought a pistol from an Arabian trader. He took every precaution that nobody, who was a part of such a conspiracy, would be caught but the cowardly Ganu Vaidya along with Dattu Joshi turned turtle as amnesty witnesses; as a result all the revolutionaries involved in this conspiracy were caught. There was a police officer named Guider who was investigating this case. His investigations took him to Swatantryaveer Savarkar in England.
As per the verdict, Anant Kanhere, Anna Karve and Vinayak Deshpande were sentenced to death. Ganu Vaidya and Dattu Joshi were sentenced to 2 years imprisonment but since they had turned into amnesty witnesses, their sentence was pardoned. On 19th April 1910, these 3 young men were sent to the gallows at 7.00 a.m. in Thane jail; they looked very calm and brave. The Government did not let people perform even their last rites. The British Government did not agree to the request of their relatives and cremated their bodies at the Thane creek and threw their ashes in the sea so that the relatives did not even get the ashes. At the age of 18, Anant Kanhere sacrificed his life for the freedom of our country and it is due to the sacrifices of many such young men that we are enjoying the freedom today ! We pay our humble respects to martyr Anant Kanhere who sacrificed his life !