Urdu’s Role in Freedom Struggle

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By T. M. Mariyam Ghazala
Urdu played the stellar role in the freedom struggle. Urdu journalists, poets and writers sacrificed their lives, careers and comforts for the sake of freedom of the country. Several Urdu writers were imprisoned, several others were hanged and yet others were asked to furnish sureties to the British administration.
The first among the journalists to be hanged was Maulvi Baqar, editor of Delhi Urdu Akhbar. By the time sun set over the Mughal sultanate in Delhi, there were 40 Urdu newspapers. They cast their lot with the freedom fighters in 1857. Since the lingua franca of cities was Urdu, the British targeted the Urdu papers for rebellious writings. They confiscated the presses and incarcerated journalists. Repression at the hands of the colonial administration led to closure of several Urdu newspapers. Within a decade, only 12 Urdu newspapers remained in circulation.
By the turn of the century, Urdu’s rebellious spirit was revived by a young breed of journalists. Zafar ali Khan brought out Zamindar from Bijnore and Hasrat Mohani started Urdu Moalla. Jawaharlal Nehru set up Qaumi Awaz and Muhammad Ali Jauhar began Hamdard from Lucknow.
Even Urdu poets chipped into the freedom movement. Famous Urdu poet Imam Baksh Sehbai was tied to the mouth of the cannon and blasted away.
The following couplet narrates the revolutionary spirit:
Hissar e Jabr mein zinda Badan jalaye gaye
Kisi ne dam na mara magar dhuan bola
Bodies were burnt to cinders in the cells of repression
Though no one had the guts to protest, the fumes provided the testimony
(The writer is a BCA II year student from Vaniyambadi)