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Freedom Fighters

Freedom struggle in Himachal Pradesh presents the spectrum of a growing popular participation in the movement. Starting with sporadic and spontaneous outbursts against the British, it gradually emerged as a national movement with the objective of obtaining independence which aim was ultimately attained in 1947. As it evolved and grew wider and wider in scope, it projected varied ideological currents ranging from reformation to revolution, from gun-barrel philosophy of the terrorists to Gandhian non-violence, from aristocratic protests to peasant out-bursts, and from fanatic religious zeal to glorious national sentiments and all converging upon the single aim of achieving freedom of the motherland, India, from the foreign yoke.

But before evaluating the role of Himachal Pradesh in the freedom struggle of the country it is imperative to know its geography and political-history. The group of Hill States constituted into Himachal Pradesh on 15th April, 1948, came under the British protection at the conclusion of Anglo-Gurkha(1814) and Anglo-Sikh(1846) wars. These States were then designated as Simla Hills States comprising of a group of 28 States/feudatories-important ones out of it were Bushahar, Sirmur, Jubbal and Bilaspur and Punjab Hills States which included Chamba, Mandi and Suket and were placed under the supervision of Superintendent, Simla Hills States, Simla and Political Agent, Lahore respectively. The states were to be independent of each other, though all of these acknowledged the British paramountcy. The acceptance of British paramountcy assured these States active help in case of internal disturbance and security from external attack. It also ended the tradition of continuous and internecine warfare in these Hill States. On the other hand the hill areas of Kangra, Kullu, Lahaul and Spiti met with a different fate after their capture by the British as a result of Anglo-Sikh War of 1846. Their strategic importance impelled the Britishers not to restore these areas to their erstwhile ruler. Unlike the policy adopted elsewhere in the hills, it was decided to pension off the Rajas and to take-these areas under the direct British administrative control. As such all these hill areas namely Kangra, Nurpur, Guler, Kuthlehar, Bangahal, Siba, Kullu, Lahaul-Spiti were grouped together and constituted into district of Kangra.

When in 1848, the second Sikh war began the Rajas of Jaswan, Datarpur and Kangra rose in revolt. Encouraged by this example the Sikh priest, Bedi Bikrama Singh of Una, spread revolt throughout the length and breadth of the Jaswan Dun Valley. John Lawrence, the commissioner of the Trans-Sutlej States who happened to be at Pathankot swept up the Jaswan Dun with a chosen force of 500 men and four guns. The Datarpur Raja was made prisoner. The Jaswan Raja offered resistance. His two positions, one at Amb and the other at Akrot were attacked together and carried with some little loss. Raja Ummed and his son Jai Singh were arrested and deported to Kumaon in the North-West Provinces, and their palaces fired plundered and razed to the ground. Bedi Bikrama Singh of Una threw whatever weight he had into the movement, hoping that his luck was about to turn. He was marching towards, Hoshiarpur to raise the country, and had halted at Mailli, eight miles off, when hearing of the break-up of the Rajas forces, he changed his plans and fled in all haste across the Beas to Maharaja Sher Singh Camp. His Jagirs were attached, and his forts and palaces razed to the ground.

The great uprising of 1857 did not greatly affect the area. However, a number of precautionary measures were taken by the British authorities who in view of the entry of the rebel soldiers from Sialkot, Jalandhar, Ambala and Multan into Kangra district not only destroyed the boats at all the banks of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej but established 29 checkposts in Kangra, Nurpur, Bilaspur, Kulu, Chamba, Hoshiarpur and Una area. A checkpost was manned by one Dafedar and seven guards.

Though the first war of independence of 1857 could not succeed yet the efforts to regain India’s independence were made relentlessly through violent and non-violent means. To be more exact and precise the participation of present Una District during the freedom struggle of the country could be classified as under:-
Armed Revolt of Hill Rajas in 1848-49.
Great uprising of 1857.
Swadeshi Movement of 1905.
Religious/Political Morchas (1921-23)
  (Jaito Morcha, Guru Ka bagh Morcha, Satyarth Parkash Morcha etc.)
Revolutionary Activities.
(Civil Disobedience, Quit India, Salt Satyagraha, Individual Satyagraha, Non-cooperation Movement etc.)
Indian National Army

It will be worth mentioning here that during the freedom struggle of the country the present Una district which was then a part of Hoshiarpur district was occasionally visited by prominent and eminent leaders of Socialist party, revolutionaries who through their fiery speeches and poems kept the torch of freedom burning in the heart of the people of area. To name the few who visited and addressed political conferences were Dr. Satya Pal, Munshi Ahmad Din, Baba Kanshi Ram, Baldev Mittar Bijli, Lala Jagat Narain, Lala Sunam Rai, B.P.L. Bedi, Thakur Hazara Singh, Lala Achint Ram , Principal Chhabil Dass, Khushi Nand Parashar, Pt. Om Parkash Trikha, Meera Bahin alias Miss Slade, Dr. J.C. Kumar Appa, Dr. Gopi Chand Bhargawa and many others.

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