Tributes to freedom fighter Vasudev Balwant Phadke on his Punyatithi

Tributes to freedom fighter Vasudev Balwant Phadke on his Punyatithi. The British deported him to a jail at Aden in Yemen where he breathed his last this day, the 17th of February, in 1883. He was then aged 37 years.

Tributes to freedom fighter Vasudev Balwant Phadke on his Punyatithi

Tributes to freedom fighter Vasudev Balwant Phadke on his Punyatithi

Vasudev Balwant Phadke was born in Raigad, Maharashtra. He was mentored by freedom fighter Lahuji Vastad Salve, who motivated the youth to free the country from colonial rule. Salve was a wrestler; he taught Vasudev Balwant Phadke the art of wrestling. Phadke then learnt by himself the art of shooting, horse-riding, and fencing.

At the age of 30, Phadke organized an army of 300 people, comprising of Ramoshis, Kolis, Bhils and Dhangars. He did not get support from the educated Hindus of his region. As he did not have funds, he raided British treasuries, to buy weapons. He also helped the famine-affected villagers with the collected funds. He successfully led several raids in the Pune region. The British labelled him as a dacoit. Phadke recruited another band of 500 Rohilas and trained them in the art of warfare. With 800 men, Phadke was all geared up for war against the British. He, along with his men, started attacking British posts. He even declared big rewards to anyone who could capture the British Governor of Bombay or kill British officers. He led a surprise attack on Pune, defeating the British and getting hold of the city for a few days.

The British offered a big reward for Phadke’s capture. A traitor gave information about his whereabouts to the British. Before he was caught, Phadke encountered the British in a fierce battle at Kaladgi near a temple. It was 20 July 1879. The British deported him to Aden where he was jailed. Phadke escaped from his jail cell, taking the door off from its hinges. It was 13 February 1883. He was recaptured. He breathed his last at Aden jail on 17th February 1883.

Remembering the lakhs of warriors and freedom fighters will be a tribute to them and thanking them for the freedom we enjoy today. No, I never read about Phadke in my history textbook in school or college.

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