New Delhi: Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu yesterday suggested the Union government should encourage states to research upon and compile the history of local heroes of freedom struggle from across the country. He also emphasized publishing this history in local languages so as to reach more people.
Speaking at an event organised in the remembrance of Raja Vijay Singh and his men at the village Kunja Bahadur in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, Naidu recalled the heroic story of the people of Kunja Bahadur who rose against the British with their king Vijay Singh.
The Britishers had occupied a significant portion of India by the year 1824 when King Vijay Singh declared freedom. He gathered an army of one thousand men from nearby areas such as Garhwal, Kumaon, Bijnor, Saharanpur and Meerut and stopped paying taxes to the British, recalled Naidu, saying he eliminated all symbols of British occupation from the area.
The British in turn attacked the fort of Kunja Bahadur. Around 40 Britishers were killed in the battle that ensued and hundreds of Gurjar soldiers were martyred, leading to the British inflicting innumerable atrocities on the people. They hanged hundreds of people from a single tree, and the bodies of Raja Vijay Singh and his General Kalyan Singh were mutilated and displayed in front of Dehradun prison.
Vice President Naidu said that Raja Vijay Singh and his men made the supreme sacrifice for the cause of freedom in 1824, three decades before the first war for independence in 1857, but it is ironic that stories like Kunja Bahadurpur remain ignored in history. “Our history is incomplete without the bravery of these heroes,” he said.
Mentioning legendary warriors from Uttarakhand such as Ram Pyari Gurjar, Rani Karnawati, Shahmal Singh Tomar and teenage warrior Shivdevi Tomar, VP Naidu said that our history has been witness to many a struggle where people rose against invaders under the leadership of local heroes to defend their freedom, honour, culture and property.
“But these resistances hardly find any mention in our history,” said Naidu, adding, “We need to rectify this mistake.” He also stressed the need to make such stories a mandatory part of school syllabi so the new generation can draw inspiration from them.
Naidu called for developing a nationalistic approach to India’s history and research new sources. History does not belong to just the rulers, but rather it belongs to the people and communities as well, he said, emphasizing the need to study local cultural, literary and social history.
The VP said that heroic stories of local communities are transmitted from generation to generation by oral tradition and form an inseparable part of their being. “Local educational institutions, civil society organizations and media should do serious research on these oral traditions of history telling and to make the whole country aware of them,” he urged.
Saying that India’s history is indebted to the great sacrifices made by its ancestors such as Raja Vijay Singh and his General Shaheed Kalyan Singh, Naidu appealed to the younger generation to respect and follow their ideals.
Speaking about the 70th Constitution Day celebrated earlier this week, the Vice President also called for equal respect for Fundamental Duties along with Fundamental Rights, reminding people of the Fundamental Duty to ‘strive towards excellence in all spheres’ and saying the country’s progress depends on each one excelling in their respective fields.
Naidu also urged people to spread awareness about fundamental duties in their community, educational institution and professional circles. This will be a true tribute to our brave ancestors who sacrificed everything so that we could breath in a free India, he said.
Calling to put national integrity above everything else, the Vice President appealed to all citizens to rise above cast, creed, religion and region and to work together for the progress of the country. He also appreciated the unity displayed by all communities after the Ayodhya verdict by the Supreme Court of India.
The Vice President was presented with a book detailing the freedom struggle of Kunja Village.
The Governor of Uttarakhand, Baby Rani Maurya; Trivendra Singh Rawat, Chief Minister, Uttarkahand; Ramesh Pokhariyal ‘Nishank’, Union HRD Minister; Dhan Singh Rawat, Minister of Education, Govt. of Uttarakhand; Karmveer, President, Shaheed Raja Vijay Singh Smarak & Kanya Shiksha Prasar Samiti; and peoples representatives from the area were among the dignitaries who present on the occasion.