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The timeless story of the Chapekar brothers

Today, June 22 is a special day in the history of Indian freedom for independence. This is because exactly 123 years ago today, the banks of the River Thames were shaken and the whole of London has trembled. The reason was the incident that took place in Pune. The Chapekar brothers shot and killed a British officer named Walter Rand in Ganeshkhind, Pune. But if it was just a simple murder, it would not have gained so much importance. But it was the first political assassination in Indian history. No one had ever dared to attack a British official before. There was no personal motive in this and it was a serious result of the huge anger of the public.

You may be wondering what is the importance of this murder? There were many such incidents during India’s struggle for freedom, but the assassination was not just an incident but the beginning of a new armed revolution. The revolution that the Chapekar brothers had ignited in that revolution continued to inspire many others. But the real question is, why did they commit this murder? Did they really have to? How and where did they kill Rand? You will have one or more such questions in front of you.

So, the point is that Chapekar's family is not one of those who commit murders regularly or are involved in it. The Chapekar family was the Pandit and Kirtankar of Chinchwad village. Haribhau Chapekar settled in Pune for the purpose of Kirtan. Haribhau Chapekar's three children Damodar, Balkrishna, and Vasudev were all doing Kirtan with him. Basically, the attitude of this family is spiritual.

But due to the changing situation of these days and the change in the mindset of Pune due to Lokmanya Tilak, the desire to pursue military education at a young age was generated in the mind of Chapekar brothers. But one of the main reasons for this interest is that they can set up a secret organization for freedom of India sometime in the future. Sometime later, the Chapekar brothers set up an organization called 'Arya Dharma Pratiband Nivarak Mandali' through which they imparted military training to the youth.

In 1896, there was a massive pandemic situation due to Plague in Mumbai and Pune, but here the British government overstepped the bounds of tyranny. The British government persecuted the locals under the reason for preventing the plague pandemic. Walter Rand, who had been specially appointed as the Collector of Pune, was responsible for all this tyranny breaking the boundaries of society and breaking into people's homes. He had taken with him two military officers, Colonel Phillips and Captain Beveridge, who had begun a period of repression throughout Pune. People were very upset because of all this.

On June 12, 1897, at a function in Pune, the Chapekar brothers performed a verse in front of Lokmanya Tilak. In it, he described inefficient people as 'stupid'. Tilak said to him, 'Today you call incompetent people as idiots, but what else do you do even if you recite verses? If they had some masculinity, Still Rand wouldn't be alive.' This opinion was not uttered by any ordinary person but by Lokmanya Tilak himself. So those words touched the minds of the Chapekar brothers very much and they decided at that moment to end this story of Rand. Now all these Chapekar brothers were thinking only one thought. How and where to kill this Rand? But this work is risky and tedious. Caution and careful preparation were essential. Otherwise, he would have been imprisoned and nothing would have been achieved.

June 22, 1897, is the Diamond Jubilee of the British Ascension. On this occasion, Lord Sandhurst, the Governor of Mumbai, had organized a party at his bungalow in Ganeshkhind. That's it! The Chapekar brothers fixed the same day. Along with him, his colleagues Mahadev Ranade and Vinayak Apte also joined the plan. Even so, the Chapekar brothers' two plans to attack Rand had already failed. So no mistake could be made at this time. So on the morning of 22nd June, Vasudev was on the trail of Rand. Throughout the day, Vasudev was watching him at the Council Hall, The Church, The Weston India Club, the venue of the party.

The royal banquet ended late at night and Rand rode home in his horse-drawn carriage. Damodar and Balkrishna Chapekar were already sitting in the forest in Ganeshkhind. The password was 'Gondya ala re'. As Rand's car approached, the sound of 'Gondya ala re' started ringing in Ganeshkhind. Balkrishna Chapekar ran away and shot the Englishman who was sitting on the back of the horse-drawn carriage. The man immediately fell on his wife's lap. But Rand was alone in the car. So who exactly is this? Whom did Balkrishna kill?

So it was a military officer named Ayrst who had taken his friend's carriage so that he should not be late to leave the party. So the confusion happened and that horse-drawn carriage looked exactly like Rand's horse-carriage. By the time Ayrst was dead already. But what to do next? This third attempt also failed? But then the sound of 'Gondya Aala Re' started ringing again. Then Damodar Chapekar climbed to the right window from behind the oncoming vehicle and fired a shot that went straight into Rand's lungs. Later he died on July 3, 1897.

The repercussions of the incident were felt directly on the banks of the River Thames. There was a huge uproar in the House of Commons. The British government in India has not been scared in the last several years, it was scared enough by this one incident.

Hardley Kennedy and Harry Bruin, two senior police officers, arrived in Pune to investigate the murders of Rand and Ayrst. The government has announced a reward of up to Rs 20,000 for information leading to the capture of the killer. In order to increase the security in Pune, a special 15,000 police force was sent to Pune and additional tax was levied on the people of Pune for their expenditure of Rs 1.5 lakh. On this, Tilak wrote on July 6, "Ya sarkarche doke thikanavar ahe kay?" And then 'Satta karne mhanje sud ugavne nhave (To rule is not to seek revenge).' wrote these famous articles. The British government wanted a reason to arrest Tilak. He got the reason and on July 28, Lokmanya Tilak was arrested in Mumbai.

But another thing that makes us sad is that there is a deceiver everywhere. Who is going to betray his own country. The Dravidian brothers, who had known the Chapekar brothers since childhood and were already in jail for forging documents, testified against the Chapekars for a reward of Rs 20,000. Originally,

Damodar Chapekar was feeling guilty that Lokmanya Tilak was arrested because of him. And now betrayal of Dravidian brothers. That's why Damodar Chapekar himself surrendered to the police. He confessed to the murder and was charged illegally. Judge Crow declared on February 3, 1898, "Damodar Hari Chapekar is being sentenced to death under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code." Without disturbing the peace of mind, Damodar Chapekar said in the court, 'Sir, is there any other punishment?'

Damodar was shifted to Yerwada Jail. Lokmanya Tilak was also there, they met for three hours after getting permission. At that time, Damodar asked Tilak for a copy of his 'Bhagavad Geeta'. Finally, on April 18, 1898, at 6.30 in the morning, with a copy of the 'Bhagavad Geeta' in hand and 'Bharatmata' in mind, this martyr merged into infinity.

But Vasudev Chapekar could not bear the threat posed by the Dravidian brothers. Then Vasudev Chapekar and Mahadev Ranade killed both Dravidian brothers and took revenge for testifying against their brother and later in May 1899 Balkrishna Chapekar, Vasudev Chapekar and Mahadev Ranade also went to the gallows.

This is probably the only example of three brothers from the same family sacrificing for a country, for freedom. The British government thought that hanging the Chapekar brothers would mean peace for them. But the fire started by the Chapekar brothers had sparked in a 14-15-year-old boy from Bhagur. This little Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was taking oath in Bhagur,

Leaving work is not enough.Don't worry anymore

('Kary soduni apure padla zunjat, khant nako pudhe’)

We will learn the lessons of your prowess by doing the work.

(‘Karya chalyu giryuni tumchya prakrmache amhi dhade’)

- Apoorv Shriniwas Kulkarni

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