05 August, 2021

Seven Days Of Swaraj

Few know of the defiant 1942 Republic of Ballia, ground down brutally

Seven Days Of Swaraj

As India prepares to commemorate 68 years of freedom from British imperial rule, it may be worth remembering a small, dusty town in Uttar Pradesh that suffered the consequences of declaring itself an independent country for a few days in 1942. The sovereign Republic of Ballia, headed by Chittu Pandey, survived some seven days before British-led military and police forces managed to regain control, thereafter unleashing a series of atrocities that are still remembered by the descendants of those who were raped, beaten and killed by torture, shooting and burning.

At the orders of an English police officer called Fletcher, an estimated 130 leaders of the local independence movement were hanged. Those who were not hanged were forced to climb trees, where they were bayoneted. Those who managed to avoid the tree punishments were taken to local jails, where they were suspended by their legs and starved. Those who avoided the leg suspension torture were forced to sit together on the floors of the jails and fed chapattis that gave them dysentery.

Ballia offers a small...

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