Compiled by: Ms. Nandita Verma
Vasudeo Balwant Phadke (4th November 1845 – 17th February 1883) is widely regarded as the ‘father of the armed struggle’ of Bharat’s independence. He preached that ‘Swaraj’ was the only remedy for their ills. He can, with justice, be called the father of militant nationalism and Hindutva in Bharat. What the Bharatiya Sepoys tried to do in 1857, the Marathas in three bitter wars and the Sikhs in 1840, but failed, one man attempted: to take on the mighty British Empire single handed. In true Hindu spirit he took a vow to stir armed rebellion and destroy the British power in Bharat and re-establish Hindu Raj.
Vasudev came into the limelight when he got complete control over the city of Pune for a few days by catching the British soldiers off guard during one of his surprise attacks.
The British Government offered a bounty for his capture. Not to be outdone, Phadke in turn offered a bounty for the capture of the Governor of Bombay, announced a reward for the killing of each European, and issued other threats to the Government.He wrote in his diary, "I wished to ruin the British. From morning to night, bathing, eating, sleeping I was brooding on this and I could not get proper sleep. I learnt to fire at targets, to ride, sword-fighting and club exercise. I had a great love for arms and always kept two guns and swords".
Phadke began to cut the communications of the British and to raid their treasury. His fame began to spread. For some time he kept up a heroic unequal struggle with the British and their Pathan underlings under Abdul Haque. Eventually after a fierce fight he was captured in Hyderabad on 21st July 1879. He was charged for waging war against the British Government. Realising that he was far too dangerous an individual to be allowed to remain in Bharat he was transported for life to prison in Aden. He was fettered and placed in solitary confinement. Nevertheless on 13th October 1880, undaunted he escaped. Unfortunately, he was shortly captured again.
To protest the atrocities on him, he went on a hunger strike; he died on 17th February 1883.
We pay obeisance to this noble son of Bharat, who is still an inspiration to millions of Bharatiyas.
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