This is the translation of Loksatta’s coverage of P. Sainath’s piece on Captain Bhau and the Toofan Sena.
Sainath’s story seeks to find out what happened to these freedom fighters after Independence
The investigative work of acclaimed journalist and Magsaysay winner, P Sainath is very well-known. Sainath’s writings on rural India (in English) have been inspirational. This time, in research-oriented style, Sainath brings to light new information on the “Patri Sarkar” (also known as “Prati Sarkar”), the parallel government that held sway in the Satara district during the Quit India Movement. The report documents the “Toofan Sena”, a parallel military that Krantisinha Nana Patil mobilised. A book carrying this and other such little known information on this period is soon to be published. It is a tribute to the courage and bravery of those who fought in the freedom struggle but haven’t found a fitting mention in the annals of history. Amongst these are freedom fighters like the 94 year old Ramchandra Shripati Lad. Lad depicts to Sainath the hopes and aspirations of those who daringly fought in the Toofan Sena, their comrades and familes who stood by their side. Lad says, “We dreamed our Independence would belong to everyday people. We achieved Independence but it did not stay in the hands of everyday people. Even today, it is the wealthy few who wield power.” This is the condition of our Independence and where it is heading. Amongst the little known facts documented in the report is that the Toofan Sena, in its efforts to expel the British, resorted to such means as train dacoities. In Satara, these efforts succeeded. In the Republic of India subsequently though, these events were forgotten.
Sainath’s article seeks to find out what became of these freedom fighters. This movement created such leaders as Nana Patil, Nagnath Nayakawdi, G. D. Bapu Lad, Capt. Bhau but most were forgotten after Independence. The Patri Sarkar and Toofan Sena had in fact included diverse political forces. A few of them joined the CPI. Nana Patil later went on to become the president of the All India Kisan Sabha. In 1957 he was elected to the Parliament on a CPI ticket. Captain Bhau and Bapu Lad became members of the Peasant Workers Party (SheKaPa). Madhavrao Mane and others joined the Congress. Those alive today have various political ideologies and party affiliations, but they pay homage to Soviet Russia. The Indian national movement, like other nations, were highly inspired by the Russian stand against Hitler. The courage displayed by Russians continued to inspire Indians even after 1947.
Through his interviews with Captain Bhau and others, P. Sainath brings a fresh reportage of this episode. It can be found at the blog-like website. With these and other stories, “The Last Freedom Fighter” from Leftword Books comes out next year. Until then we can read excerpts from this upcoming book on the Internet!
In addition to this, John Reid’s “Ten Days That Shook The World” will carry an introduction by P. Sainath. The book will be published by Leftword on the occasion of the centennial of the 1917 Russian revolution.