Read this article, Nine Decades of Non-violence, in The Hindu (August 23, 2007). It is a piece about Baji Mohammed who is one of the last living freedom fighters of India. Sainath starts it off as a telling tale of our increasing religious intolerance but soon veers on to the journey of Satyagraha and our own freedom.
“We were sitting in the tent, they tore it down. We kept sitting,” the old freedom fighter told us. “They threw water on the ground and at us. They tried making the ground wet and difficult to sit on. We remained seated. Then when I went to drink some water and bent down near the tap, they smashed me on the head, fracturing my skull. I had to be rushed to hospital.”
Baji Mohammed is one of India’s last living freedom fighters — just one of four or five nationally recognised ones still alive in Orissa’s Koraput region. He is not talking about British brutality in 1942.(Though he has much to say on that, too.) He’s describing the vicious attack on him during the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, half a century later. “I was there as part of a 100-member peace team.” But the team was given no peace. The old Gandhian fighter, already in his mid-seventies, spent ten days in hospital and a month in a Varanasi ashram recovering from the injury to his head.