On occasion of Centenary celebration of Champaran Satyagraha, when the entire nation is talking about “How Champaran transform Gandhi ji into Mahatma” and “How Gandhi transform the way of freedom struggle at Champaran” I chose to talk about an unsung hero of Champaran Satyagraha.
Before I write anything about the unsung hero of Champaran Satyagraha, it will be only justified to quote a line from letter of Veteran actor Farooq Sheikh acknowledging the nation’s debt to an unsung hero.
“If it weren’t for Batak Mian, India’s history would have been different…”
We all know about the brutal TinKathiya system which was prevailing in Champaran district until Gandhi ji led the Champaran Satyagraha movement, under that system the tenant farmers were forced to mandatorily cultivate Indigo crops in three Katha of land on every twenty katha(one bigha) they owned.
Since, indigo crops were poorly compensated by Britishers & European Indigo mill owners and in case of refusal to cultivate Indigo crops, farmer had to face heavy taxation. Farmers were force to leave under miserable condition.
When Gandhi ji arrived at Champaran, the news spread like in the region like a wildfire and he was greeted by a large crowd of peasants at railway stations all along the way from Muzaffarpur to Motihari.Since, Indigo mill owners and Britishers officials were aware about Gandhi’s leadership ability and capability to fight against atrocity and torture. They were also keeping a sharp eye on all developments.
One fine day a British manager of an Indigo mill in Motihari invited Gandhi ji at a dinner and conspired to kill him through poisoned milk. According to the plan, Ervin the British manager instructed Batak Mian , his cook to serve a glass of milk laced with poison to Gandhi Ji.
But it was Batak Mian’s patriotism, which did not allow his soul to serve the poisoned milk to Gandhi ji. So, he took the glass to Gandhi ji but revealed the conspiracy in front of Ervin , Gandhi Ji and Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Thus he saved the life of Gandhi ji who led the Champaran Satyagraha movement and changed the narrative of struggle for freedom of India. But Batak Mian had to pay heavily for his patriotism. The manager put him in Jail and brutally tortured him. His house was turned into crematorium and later he and his family were forced out of village.
What would bigger tragedy that this extraordinary Indian, without who India’s independence might not have been possible, has completely been ignored. Isn’t it tragic that today the man who killed Mahatma Gandhi is known to all but very few know Batak Mian who saved the Mahatma’s life in 1917?
The unsung hero Batak Mian died in 1957. Currently his five grandsons stay with their families at Akwa Parsawni village in West Champaran district. Illiterate, they work as migrant laborers.
I personally believe that recognizing those unsung hero will be the real the tribute to Gandhi ji and Champaran Satyagraha. We shall move forward from seeking political opportunities in Gandhi Ji and Champaran Satyagraha and spread the essence of Champaran Satyagraha among the people of the nation.