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Under One Flag
The Light Has Gone Out
India Wins Freedom
Apostle of Peace
The Last War of Independence
Quit India
Leave India to God… or to Anarchy
Gandhi and Ambedkar
A Pinch of Salt!
Saga of Indian Revolutionaries
Bardoli
Gandhiji Withdraws from Political Activities
The Himalayan Blunder
A People Reject Their Rulers
Jallianwala — The Aftermath
Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh
The Gentle Satyagrahi
Gandhi in Champaran
Carrot and Stick
Revolutionaries Outside India
Heroes and Martyrs
Gandhi in South Africa
From Swadeshi to Swaraj
Swadeshi Enterprise
The New Spirit of India
The Great Divide
Partition of Bengal
The Battle is Taken to the Legislature!
The Monk Who Shook The Nation
Father of Indian Unrest
An Old Man's Dream
Women : Crossing the Threshold
The Battle Lines are Drawn
The Battle For A Free Press
Pressing On !
Europeans Take To The Street!
The British Raj in Black and White
Mamool Raj
The One-Man Army
Hunger Deaths
The Delhi Durbar
Return to Swadeshi
Barbarous Britannia
‘Rani Ka Hookum’
Perishing in Peace
The Blue Mutiny
English Education
The Trial of the Last Emperor
Roll of Honour
The Empire Strikes Back
British Authority Collapses
Sepoys on the Move
Tribal Uprisings
The Empire Builders
For God and Country

The One-Man Army

The post-1857 period of our struggle for freedom was marked by an absence of large-scale organised armed revolts which were so frequent upto 1857. Where had the brave Marathas, the invincible Rajputs, the fearless Sikhs and the hot-headed Pathans gone?
R.C. Majumdar observes that "the ruthless suppression of the Mutiny caused terror, and generated a belief in the invincibility of the British power. The conviction that armed resistance against it was futile... explains the gradual subsidence of armed resistance against authority." It is in this background that one should assess the life of Vasudev Balwant Phadke who waged war against the Queen almost single-handedly and ushered in 'militant nationalism' in India.
Phadke had enough knowledge of English to become a clerk in the Military Accounts department in Pune where he served for over 15 years. He used to attend lectures by Govind Ranade who was against the economic policies pursued by the government, claiming that they had impoverished the people. The devastation caused in western India by the famines of 1876-77 made a deep impression on Phadke who was convinced that foreign rule was to blame for India's agony.
"Thinking of thousands of things like this," writes Phadke in his diary, "my mind turned against the English, and I wished to ruin them. From morning to night, bathing, eating, sleeping, I was brooding over this...until I was as one mad."
Phadke learnt to shoot, to ride and to fence. He started collecting arms —guns, swords, pattas or long swords and spears.
He found to his dismay that educated young men were eager to talk about liberty and equality but unwilling to fight for their ideals. He got a more positive response to his call for action from uneducated peasants and from backward communities like the Ramoshis.
He wanted to build an army but lacked the funds. Deciding that the end justified the means, he and his men broke into a number of shops in the village of Dhamari and collected about four hundred rupees.
The police branded him a dacoit and began a relentless hunt for him. Phadke fled from village to village and was sheltered by sympathisers and well-wishers from both the landed class and the peasantry.

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