Bashyam Arya stood against British might during freedom struggle

Chennai: While we sing paeans on heroes who scripted history during India’s struggle for Independence, albeit a few times a year, how does it feel for those who were a part of the freedom fighters’ lives?

This week, News Today meets Thiruvanmiyur resident Kuppuswamy (88), who fondly recalled the valour of his legendary uncle, K Bashyam Arya.

For the uninitiated, Bashyam during his prime, had risked his life to hoist the Congress flag atop Fort St. George in 1932. He also devised and planted an incendiary device to burn shops selling foreign clothes, apart from picketing such places and toddy stores.

According to Kuppuswamy, his uncle’s first exposure to the freedom struggle was in 1919, when he attended a meeting held to condemn the brutality of General Dyer at Jallianwala Bagh. It is said that in 1921, he met Gandhi for the first time and was stirred by his call for non-cooperation.

He is the first person to have hoisted the Congress flag, even before India attained Independence, it is learnt.

“The story goes like this: On the midnight of 25 January 1932, Bhashyam clad in a Khaki uniform of the Hindustan Seva Dal, sneaked past guards and waited near Fort St. George. Once inside, he ran along the shadows of the Fort, to the wireless transmitter pole towering 200 feet in the North West corner,” said Kuppuswamy.

He clambered up the pole as quickly as he could, for, if a sentry had spotted him, he would have been shot immediately. He unfurled the dhoti which was the Congress flag and under the charkha, were penned the words, “From this day, India breathes the air of freedom.”

Even as the news of the Congress flag flying atop the Fort, spread, the Britishers had to take the help of the fire brigade service to pull it down.

By the end of June 1932, he had been branded as ‘dangerous’, by the authorities. “He was lodged at Central jail, Bellary, where he refused to wear a regulation cap for political prisoners. During a customary inspection parade, the man, armed with his slippers, hit Major Inns, the superintendent of the jail, on his head. This awarded him 30 lashes, during which he shouted Acham Illai, Acham Illai,” he said.

In the latter part of his life, he turned into a political cartoonist, sculptor and an artiste under the pen name – Arya. His paintings and drawings of Gandhi and Bharathiyar were officially recognised by the government, it is learnt.,

“My uncle lived upto 90 years in Thiruvanmiyur. He was also a palmist and several senior politicians used to come to him. But he never got his due. He was also not happy with the Indian political scenario, toward his later stages,” Kuppuswamy rued.

Naomi N