Monday, December 26, 2011
Bal Gangadhar Tilak (contd-1)
Tilak's prominent role at Surat to save the Congress from Moderates' influence and his courageous drive thereafter for disseminating the ideologies of the movement without frown or fear of the bureaucracy resulted in his arrest in June, 1908 and transportationto the Mandalay jail for six years.
Indian National Congress
Tilak'' joined the Indian National Congress in 1890. He opposed its moderate attitude, especially towards the fight for self government. He was one of the most eminent radicals at the time.
Despite being personally opposed to early marriage, Tilak opposed the 1891 [1891 Age of Consent Act
Age of Consent bill]], seeing it as interference with Hinduism and a dangerous precedent. The act raised the age at which a girl could get married from 10 to 12. A plague epidemic spread from Mumbai to Pune in late 1896, and by January 1897, it reached epidemic proportions. In order to suppress the epidemic and prevent its spread, it was decided to take drastic action, accordingly a Special Plague Committee, with jurisdiction over Pune city, its suburbs and Pune cantonment was appointed under the Chairmanship of W. C. Rand, I. C. S, Assistant Collector of Pune by way of a government order dated 8 March 1897.Tilak took up the people's cause by publishing inflammatory articles in his paper Kesari.[Kesari was written in Marathi and Maratha was written in English], quoting the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, to say that no blame could be attached to anyone who killed an oppressor without any thought of reward. Following this, on 22 June, Rand and another British officer Lt. Ayerst were shot and killed by the Chapekar brothers and their other associates. Tilak was charged with incitement to murder and sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment. When he emerged from prison, he was revered as a martyr and a national hero and adopted a new slogan, "Swaraj (Self-Rule) is my birth right and I shall have it."
Following the partition of Bengal in 1905, which was a strategy set out by Lord Curzon to weaken the nationalist movement, Tilak encouraged a boycott, regarded as the Swadeshi movement.
Tilak opposed the moderate views of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and was supported by fellow Indian nationalists Bipin Chandra Pal in Bengal and Lala Lajpat Rai in Punjab. They were referred to as the Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate. In 1907, the annual session of the Congress Party was held at Surat (Gujarat). Trouble broke out between the moderate and the extremist factions of the party over the selection of the new president of the Congress. The party split into the "Jahal matavadi" ("Hot Faction," or extremists), led by Tilak, Pal and Lajpat Rai, and the "Maval matavadi"("Soft Faction," or moderates). Nationalists like Aurobindo Ghose were Tilak supporters.
On 30 April 1908 two Bengali youths, Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose, threw a bomb on a carriage at Muzzafarpur in order to kill the Chief Presidency Magistrate Douglas Kingsford of Calcutta fame, but erroneously killed some women travelling in it. While Chaki committed suicide when caught, Bose was hanged. Tilak in his paper Kesari defended the revolutionaries and called for immediate Swaraj or Self-rule. The Government swiftly arrested him for sedition. He asked a young Muhammad Ali Jinnah to represent him. But the British judge convicted him and he was imprisoned from 1908 to 1914 in the Mandalay Prison, Burma. While imprisoned, he continued to read and write, further developing his ideas on the Indian Nationalist movement. While in the prison he wrote the most famous "Gita Rahasya". Lots of copies of which were sold and the money was donated for the freedom fighting.
Sardar Griha Lodge, Tilak stayed here when in Mumbai
Much has been said of his trial of 1908, it being the most historic trial. His last words on the verdict of the Jury were such: "In spite of the verdict of the Jury, I maintain that I am innocent. There are higher powers that rule the destiny of men and nations and it may be the will of providence that the cause which I represent may prosper more by my suffering than by my remaining free". These words now can be seen imprinted on the wall of Room. No. 46 at Bombay High Court.