THE country came to a standstill at 6.57 pm on May 10 when crores of people across the country observed silence for 57 seconds to pay respect to the martyrs of 1857 war of Independence. With this event the 150th anniversary celebration of 1857 war of Independence concluded. Prominently three types of activities?lightening of 1857 lamps, observing silence for 57 seconds and singing of Vande Mataram?had been planned for public functions. At some places 150 lamps were lighted to mark the 150th anniversary.
The prominent personalities who observed silence and paid tribute to the martyrs included former Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee in Delhi, RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri K.S. Sudarshan in Vijayawada, former Deputy Prime Minister Shri L.K. Advani in Delhi, BJP president Shri Rajnath Singh in Delhi, VHP president Shri Ashok Singhal in Himachal Pradesh, noted playback singer Lata Mangeshkar in Mumbai, TV actor Shri Mukesh Khanna in Kotdwar (Uttarakhand), TV personality Shri Arun Govil in Punjab, Nanaji Deshmukh in Delhi, Baba Ramdev in Hyderabad, classical singer Smt. Girija Devi in Kolkata, classical dancer Shri Birju Maharaj in Aurangabad (Maharashtra), classical singer Shri Bhupen Hazarika in Mumbai, RSS Sahsarkaryavah Shri Madan Das in Gwalior, Sahsarkaryavah Shri Suresh Soni in Mumbai, Shri K.N. Govindacharya in Onkareshwar, noted play back signer Shri Ravindra Jain in Indore, Baba Satyanarayan Maurya in Ujjain, Akhil Bharatiya Sahbauddhik Pramukh of RSS Shri Duttatreya Hosbale in Nagpur, patron of Sanskar Bharati Shrikrishan Motalag in Manipur, RSS national executive member Shri Indresh Kumar in Meerut and BJP organising secretary Shri Ramlal in Bangalore.
?The exact number of the places where functions were held is not available at the moment but this is a fact that functions were held at more than 1857 places. The functions were held at more than 300 places in Delhi alone by the BJP. Vidya Bharati organised functions at school level and the BJP organised at division level. The Sangh also observed the event at the shakha level,? said Shri Amirchand, joint organising secretary of Sanskar Bharati and national convener of the event. He said all the units of Sanskar Bharati paid tribute to the martyrs through various cultural activities.
In his message, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee said 1857 may today have become a history but it would remain a prime source of inspiration for us. Nanaji Deshmukh said he felt proud to remember the martyrs and that is why he salutes them. Smt. Lata Mangeshkar said every Indian must pay respect to the martyrs of 1857. Shri Ashok Singhal said memorials of the martyrs should be built at various places in their memory.
In Delhi grand functions were held at Chandani Chowk, India Gate and Keshavpuram where senior BJP leaders Shri L.K. Advani, Smt. Sushma Swaraj and Shri Rajnath Singh paid homage to the martyrs respectively. Grandson of noted freedom fighter Tatya Tope, Shri Vinayak Tope, president of Sanskar Bharati Shri Rajdutt and noted literary person Dr Narendra Kohli were also present at the function held at Chandani Chowk. Shri Advani said any country, which forgets its culture, tradition and sacrifices gets wiped out. ?Generations to come will have to remember that it was only due to the sacrifices by lakhs of Indians that our country got Freedom,? he said.
In the function organised at Keshavpuram Shri Rajnath Singh said India would not have been able to achieve freedom had the uprising not taken place in 1857. Even today, there were many dangers to the country from within and outside but the present Government was disregarding them. It was the duty of the countrymen to maintain the unity and integrity of free India, he asserted. Delhi BJP president Dr Harsh Vardhan, who paid homage to the martyrs at Birla Mills in Kamla Nagar, said the martyrs of 1857 did not get their due recognition as the Congress only focused on one family. Shri Vinayak Tope appealed to the people not to let the sacrifices of the martyrs go waste.
Former Defence Minister Shri George Fernandes, Smt. Sushma Swaraj, editor of The Pioneer Shri Chandan Mitra, classical dancers Nalini-Kamalini, editor of Veer Arjun Shri Anil Narendra and Rajya Sabha MP Shri S.S. Ahaluwalia were among the prominent personalities who paid homage at India Gate. Sewa Bharati, Delhi organised a function at Khooni Darwaja where more than 500 youth paid tribute to the martyrs. A function was held at VHP headquarters in R.K. Puram where VHP leaders Shri Champat Rai and Shri Rameshwar Dayal paid tribute.
In Varanasi, a function was held at Assi Ghat where 1857 lamps were lighted in the memory of the martyrs. Prof. Deenbandhu Pandey, former head of Art and Ancient History in BHU and RSS Vibhag Pracharak of Kashi Shri Abhay Kumar were among the prominent persons who paid tribute. Dr Shukdev Tripathi, Shri Kedarnath Singh and Shri Avadh Kishore Divvedi were also present on the occasion.
In Kolkata, the main function was organised jointly by Burra Bazaar Kumar Sabha Pustakalaya and Rajasthan Parishad. Shri Rajiv Dixit of Azadi Bachao Andolan, Shri Vimal Lath, Shri Subrat Mukherjee and Shri Ashok Maheshwari paid tribute. In Patna, the function was held at Shahid Smarak where the Chief Minister Shri Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Shri Sushil Kumar Modi and dramatist Shri D.P. Sinha paid homage. Here too 1857 lamps were lighted. More than 35 functions were held in Dhanbad (Jharkhand) alone by Sanskar Bharati and other organisations.
A unique function was held in Virbhoomi district of West Bengal, where Vanvasi martyrs Siddho and Kanho had sacrificed. The uniqueness of this function was that there was no arrangement of light and the whole function was held in the light of the lamps lighted on the occasion.
Despite heavy rains a function was held at Andaman & Nicobar Islands in which Shri Anil Dave from Bhopal and Shri Abhay Mahajan, organising secretary of DRI (Delhi) participated. A grand function was held at Ramghat in Chitrakoot by Deendayal Research Institute. Shri Bharat, chief general secretary of DRI conducted the proceedings. There are reports of organising various functions in Rajasthan.
A function was held at historic Ridge Ground in Shimla jointly by the Government of Himachal Pradesh and Sanskar Bharati. Chief Minister Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal and Prant Pracharak Shriniwas Murty addressed the gathering. Here too people came in good numbers despite heavy rains. There are reports of organising functions at 104 places in Jammu & Kashmir.
A total of 1857 lamps were lighted in Gurgaon (Haryana) where the people had started collecting oil and lamps in temples before one week of the function. A cultural function was held in Rohatak where noted play back singer Himani Kapoor participated. The Sanskar Bharati also organised a Quiz on 1857 war of Independence in Sonepat in which a total of 497 groups of boys and girls participated. Dr Ashok Batra, national convener of the Quiz, was present on the occasion.
Functions were also held in Kerala under the banner of ?Tapasya? at various places. According to Sanskar Bharati activists Shri Sukhdev Biswas in Arunachal Pradesh, Smt Rinu Leen in Meghalaya and Shri Himansu Barua in Assam, various functions were held across the northeastern region.
According to Shri Amirchand, the Quiz on 1857 war of Independence would continue and it would be organised at district and state levels across the country. The national level quiz competition would be held in August this year. ?Two proposals have come from prominent people. One, May 10 should be observed as ?Kranti Diwas? across the country every year and the martyrs should be paid tributes every year at 18.57 minutes. The second proposal is about building ?Kranti Stambha? at least at the places related to the martyrs. The national executive of Sanskar Bharati, which will meet in Gwalior from June 7 to 8, will take the final decision in this regard. Leading sculpturist Shri Adwait Gadnaik has started preparing a model for the Kranti Stambha. Sanskar Bharati is also preparing a CD of the songs, banned by the British Government during the Freedom Movement and the CD would be available in the market by August this year.