Foot-soldiers of freedom

Read these stories -  never seen in our textbooks  - of rural Indians who were both the foot soldiers of freedom and the leaders of some of the greatest anti-colonial uprisings ever seen. Countless thousands of them sacrificed their lives to rid India of British rule. From the 1990s, P. Sainath recorded the lives of several of the last living freedom fighters.

Curated by Riya Behl. Illustration by Mayank Dabhi.

‘Captain Elder Brother’ and the whirlwind army

by P. Sainath
At 94, a forgotten hero of India’s struggle for freedom returns to the scene of his most daring exploit in the anti-British Raj uprising that saw a parallel government established in Satara, Maharashtra, in 1943.
Satara, Maharashtra

Sankariah: nine decades a revolutionary

by P. Sainath
At 99, N. Sankariah tells us the astonishing story of his struggles against the British Raj – in public, in prison and underground. He never completed his graduation because of his involvement in India’s Independence movement, but went on to be a prolific writer and play an active role in the Communist Party of India.
Chennai, Tamil Nadu

The unsung heroism of Hausabai

by P. Sainath
Hausabai Patil, now in her 90s, was with the revolutionary underground that carried out audacious attacks on British offices, and looted armouries, buses and police stations in the Satara region in Maharashtra from 1943-46.
Sangli, Maharashtra

When ‘Salihan’ took on the Raj

by P. Sainath
In 1930, a 16-year-old Adivasi girl, Deimathi Dei Sabar, led an uprising against the British in Saliha village in what is today Odisha’s Nuapada district. This story, complete with a poem, tells the story of the life of a freedom fighter since 1947, and asks if this is the freedom that Salihan and her kind fought for.
Nuapada, Odisha

The last battle of Laxmi Panda

by P. Sainath
The impoverished INA freedom fighter whose only demand of her nation was recognition. And so the ageing soldier's fight continued even six decades after Independence.
Koraput, Odisha

Kalliasseri: in search of Sumukan - Kerala

by P. Sainath
Kalliasseri, a village in Kerala has fought on many fronts: ‘In the thick of the freedom struggle, it challenged the British. At the heart of the peasant movement in the region, it took on the janmis (feudal landlords). As a centre of Left-wing currents, it confronted caste.’
Kannur district, Kerala

Ganpati Yadav’s gripping life cycle

by P. Sainath
Ganpati Yadav was in a provisional, underground government of Satara, Maharashtra, that declared independence from British rule in 1943 - four years before the rest of India! This 97- year-old farmer and freedom fighter, still cycles around.
Sangli, Maharashtra

The Indian Nation in 1942

by Gyanendra Pandey
The Indian Nation in 1942, a collection of essays edited by Gyanendra Pandey, takes an in-depth look at the Quit India Movement, its causes and consequences, and reactions to it across the country.
PARI Library

More tales of freedom

by P. Sainath
Founder Editor of PARI, P. Sainath personally met and interviewed many of the foot soldiers of India’s freedom struggle who live in rural India - often forgotten, their sacrifices unacknowledged but still breathing the same passion for freedom.
PARI

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