Home English Articles Front Role of Dr. Hedgewar In Non-Cooperation Movement

Front Role of Dr. Hedgewar In Non-Cooperation Movement

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Dr. Hedgewar was a committed strong Nationalist, even then he did not mind being labelled as Congress Person. In Nagpur convention, he was able to create a distinguished place for himself. He devoted all his energies to make the Non-Cooperation Movement under the guidance of Gandhiji a total success. Whole country got prepared to join the movement on the call given by Gandhiji. Before this Dr. Hedgewar was active with Anushilan Samiti led revolutionary activities. He had planned a great rebellion like that of 1857 and now he had decided to follow the Gandhiji led Satyagraha agitations to achieve freedom for the country.

Commitment to fight injustice wherever, was an integral part of his strong personality. Dr. Hedgewar inspired and gave motivating speeches for the success of agitations like boycott of courts and educational institutions, starting national schools, returning of government titles and awards, popularising Charkha, rallies and demonstrations, gherao etc. He joined almost all Congress leaders in the central province to work on war footing. Gandhiji had attempted to seek Muslim’s support for the Non-Cooperation Movement. He supported the Khilafat movement to please them. He expected support from Muslim leadership which never came. Khilafat movement was meant to restore Khalifa Caliph Hood in far off Turkey and had nothing to do with India or India’s freedom.

Active Participation of Dr. Hedgewar and His Colleagues

Even though Dr. Hedgewar did not agree with Gandhiji on several issues, he never criticised Gandhiji publicly keeping in view the sensibilities of that time. Dr. Sahib did not want any type of harm to that movement but he did not hesitate to put his point of view at appropriate time and place. He told Gandhiji “We already have several Nationalist Muslim leaders who out of their love for the country are working under the leadership of Lokmanya Tilak. Several Muslim leaders like Dr. Ansari and Hakim Ajmal Khan are struggling for the freedom of the country. But I have this apprehension that this new experiment of appeasement may alienate the Muslims instead of their joining our movement.” Gandhiji was not in a mood to discuss the topic with young freedom fighters and pushed his idea despite disagreement within the party.

Even after getting a discouraging approach by Gandhiji, Dr. Sahib continued working tirelessly and nonstop in the Non-Cooperation Movement.

Dr. Sahib with his sharp communication skills and strong speeches created a sense of fear in the authorities. Government got concerned and banned his public speeches for one month. The then district commissioner of Nagpur Cyril James issued orders under section 144 on 23rd.Feb. 1921 which banned all rallies and meetings in public places. But Dr. Hedgewar not only continued with his campaign but intensified the same.

Sedition Charges against Hedgewar

Government wanted him implicated in some cases. Declaring his two speeches objectionable, a case of sedition was filed against Dr. Sahib in May 1921. Dr. Hedgewar represented himself in the court on his own behalf. He said in clear terms “There is no governance in India that can be termed as legal or lawful. Today we live in terror and an environment of fear has been unleashed upon us by brute force. Law is enslaved and courts are toys in the hands of rulers. I have attempted to create a sense of patriotism and deep concern among my country fellows towards the miserable condition of my motherland. Whatever I said is about rights and struggles for freedom of my countrymen. I am prepared to take responsibility for every word that I said and all I said is as per natural justice.” On listening to this fiery speech, the magistrate said “The statement is more seditious than his public speech.”

In response to the remark of the magistrate, Dr. Hedgewar replied again loudly, “We want complete freedom. We will not sit idle till we get it. If we seek freedom for our country, is it against any policy or law?” The judge Smiley gave the verdict. “Your speech is full of sedition. So, you will not deliver any speech for one year. You have to give this assurance and two bail bonds of Rupees one thousand each. After this decision, Doctor ji said more forcefully. “Whatever is your decision, I am not guilty, this is what my soul tells me. Repressive steps of government are adding fuel to the already simmering fires. Foreign rulers will soon have to repent for their sins. This is my firm faith. I have full faith in the justice of God, so this Jamanat (conditional release) is not acceptable to me.”

One Year Rigorous Imprisonment

As soon as Dr. Hedgewar finished his reply, the judge sentenced him to one-year rigorous imprisonment. Doctor ji welcomed the punishment smilingly and prepared himself to leave for jail. When he came out of court, he was encircled by his friends and a huge gathering of the public. Gokhale from the city unit of Congress garlanded him. Several other Congress leaders also offered him flower garlands. At this occasion Dr. Hedgewar gave a brief speech. “We should be prepared to face Kala Pani punishment or even get hanged, but believing that by going to jail we will get freedom is not fully correct. We can work a lot for our country by remaining outside the jail. Keep this in mind. I shall return after one year; till that I may not know the condition of my country. But the movement for freedom of our country will intensify. This is my firm belief. Our country cannot remain under foreign rule any longer. It cannot be enslaved any further. I am deeply obliged to all of you from the core of my heart and now I take your leave for one year.” By saying so he bid Namaskar to all with folded hands. Amongst the huge applause, Vande Matram slogan was shouted repeatedly. Huge crowd of nationalist leaders of Congress and his old revolutionary friends shouted – Bharat Mata Ki Jai – Vande Matram. He went to Nagpur jail on 19th. August.1921. Same evening Congress leaders in a facilitation meeting in honour of Dr. Hedgewar, gave emotional and touching speeches about his courage and fearlessness. Among those who spoke were Dr. Munje, Narayan Rao Kelkar, Shree Harkere and Vishavnath Rao Kelkar. All these leaders profusely praised Dr. Hedgewar’s commitment to fight for complete freedom of India and asked people to come forward to join his mission.

Dr. Hedgewar Laboured Hard for The Success of Non-cooperation Movement.

Dr. Hedgewar’s close friend and chief editor of Maharashtra Weekly, Gopal Rao Ogle wrote in his editorial “After accepting voluntarily the hardships of rigorous imprisonment for one year, Dr. Hedgewar will return soon to lead directionless youth of Nagpur and work towards achieving goal of complete freedom for the country.” News of one-year rigorous imprisonment spread throughout the central province like wildfire.

Special meetings were held at several places. Facilitating Dr. Hedgewar, criticising government and boycott etc. became an integral part of agitation of non-cooperation movement. Thus, while speeches of Dr. Hedgewar had given a boost to the Non-Cooperation Movement, his jail further inspired people all over.

Gandhiji’s declaration – Swaraj within a year- mesmerised the whole nation. Agitation picked up momentum. Several friends of Doctor ji came on roads defying government orders. Government was taken aback by the response of young revolutionaries. Gandhiji appealed for total nonviolence. Accepting this appeal from the core of his heart, Dr. Hedgewar, an architect of armed revolution, followed nonviolence concept and worked to spread this message – Swaraj within a year- to every house. Dr. Hedgewar knew that future writers might not agree with this act of him and his revolutionary friends, but still Dr. Hedgewar left no stone unturned to take the movement to the peak of success. It is worth mentioning here that after Dr. Hedgewar went to jail, his several thousand young revolutionary colleagues kept the torch of freedom struggle aloft through Non-Cooperation Movements.

……………….to be continued

(Writer is a senior journalist and columnist)



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