Vishnu Ganesh Hegde, a forgotten Hero of Indian Freedom Struggle.

Vishnu Ganesh Hegde

Vishnu Ganesh Pingle, a name that glitters like a diamond in the Indian struggle for Independence. Born in 1888 in Talegaon near Pune, Vishnu during his early age cherished the dream of becoming an engineer. However, during his student days in his school Maharashtra Vidyalaya, he came in contact with the nationalist movement. After completing his school education, Vishnu got a job in Govindrao Potdar’s Pioneer Alkali works at Mahim. Govindrao was an ardent nationalist and also an expert in explosives.
Under the influence of Govindarao ji and the incumbent Swadeshi movement; Pingle opened a handloom near Latur. However, owing to his seditious speeches against the British Crown, Pingle was soon put on close watch by British police. Pingle then decided to operate from abroad as it became immensely difficult owing to the strong vigil of the police. Vishnu was much influenced by the American War of Independence since school days. In 1911 he secretly decided to leave for the USA via HongKong. He kept his news of operating from abroad totally secret even from his family. The only person to know it was his elder brother Keshavrao, that too just before his departure at the railway station.
He got himself enrolled as a student of mechanical engineering in Washington University. During this phase he came in close contact with Satyen Bhusan Sen[he was in Berkley]; a disciple of Jatindranath Mukherjee alias Baghajatin, Kartar Singh Sarava of the Gadar Party. During the 1st World War, under instructions from Baghajatin; Satyen Sen, Kartar Singh and Pingle sailed via sea route and reached China in October 1914. There they met the famous revolutionary leader of Punjab Tahal Singh who was organizing revolutionaries in abroad under the banner of Gadar Party. They met San Yat Sen the Chinese President, but he refused to help them by not allowing Chinese land[the main reason he did not want to displease the British].In November the team arrived Calcutta via water route and a famous meeting between Satyen, Pingle, Kartar Singh took place. This was an epic meeting where all attendees were in disguise to hoodwink the British intelligence[as all were under surveillance]. British police Commissioner of Kolkata the infamous Charles Tegart wrote to his higher authorities”It is an utter failure of our intelligence system. Pingle, Bose and Singh had long talks with Jatin Mukherjee, who sent Pingle and Singh to Rash Behari in Benares with necessary information during the third week of December. Satyen remained in Calcutta at 159 Bow Bazar Street pretending to have kalazar. This is totally unacceptable, the way they had dodged our security”
Bose and Baghajatin tried to approach some Sikh troops of Dakshineswar gunpowder magazine. Military intelligence records reveal that the Sikhs belonged to 93rd Burmans, who were immediately dispatched to Mesopotamia to nip in the bud the possibility of a revolt under the charismatic personality of Jatindranath Mukherjee. Meanwhile, Benares was turned into a centre for “sedition”.
Sundar Lal ( son of Tota Ram of Muzaffarnagar) had given a very objectionable speech in 1907 on Shivaji Festival in Benares. Follower of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai and Sri Aurobindo, in 1908 this man had accompanied Lala in his UP lecture tour. His organ, the Swarajya of Allahabad, was warned in April 1908 against sedition. On 22 August 1909, Sundar Lal and Sri Aurobindo delivered “mischievous speeches” in College Square, Calcutta. The Karmayogi in Hindi was issued in Allahabad since September 1909. In 1915, Pingle was received in Allahabad by the Swarajya group. Rash Behari had been in Benares since early 1914.
A large number of outrages were committed there between October 1914 and September 1915, 45 of them before February was over. On 18 November 1914, while examining two bomb caps, he and Sachin Sanyal had been injured. They shifted to a house in Bangalitola, where Pingle visited him with a letter from Jatin Mukherjee and reported that some 4000 Sikhs of the Ghadar had already reached Calcutta. 15.000 more were waiting to come and join the rebellion. Rash Behari sent Pingle and Sachin to Amritsar, to discuss with Mula Singh who had come from Shanghai. Rash Behari’s man of confidence, Pingle led a hectic life in UP and Punjab for several weeks.
Pingle returned to Calcutta with Rash Behari’s instructions to the Jugantar leaders to meet him at Benares for co-coordinating and finalizing their plans. Jatin Mukherjee, Atulkrishna Ghosh left for Benares (early January 1915). In a very important meeting, Rash Behari announced the rebellion, proclaiming: “Die for their country.” Though through Havildar Mansha Singh, the 16th Rajput Rifles at Fort William was successfully approached, Jatin Mukherjee wanted two months for the army revolt, synchronising with the arrival of the German arms.
He modified the plan according to the impatience of the Gadhar militants to rush to action. Rash Behari and Pingle went to Lahore. Sachin tampered with the 7th Rajputs (Benares) and the 89th Punjabis at Dinapore. Damodar Sarup [Seth] went to Allahabad. Vinayak Rao Kapile conveyed bombs from Bengal to Punjab. Bibhuti Haldar and Priyo Nath Bhattacharya seduced the troops at Benares; Nalini Mukherjee at Jabalpur.
On 14 February, Kapile carried from Benares to Lahore a parcel containing materials for 18 bombs. Along with Rash Behari Bose, Sachin Sanyal and Kartar Singh, Pingle became one of the main coordinators of the attempted mutiny in February 1915. Under Rash Behari, Pingle issued intensive propaganda for revolution from December 1914, sometimes disguised as Shyamlal, a Bengali; sometimes Ganpat Singh, a Punjabi Confident of being able to rally the Indian Sepoy, the plot for the mutiny took its final shape. The 23rd Cavalry in Punjab was to seize weapons and kill their officers while on roll call on 21 February. This was to be followed by mutiny in the 26th Punjab, which was to be the signal for the uprising to begin[as per intelligence record].
The Bengal revolutionaries contacted the Sikh troops stationed at Dacca through letters of introduction sent by Sikh soldiers of Lahore, and succeeded in winning them over The Bengal cell was to look for the Punjab Mail entering the Howrah Station the next day (which would have been cancelled if Punjab was seized) and was to strike immediately. However, the Punjab CID successfully infiltrated the conspiracy at the last moment through Kirpal Singh: a cousin of the trooper Balwant Singh (23rd Cavalry), US-returned Kirpal, a spy, visited Rash Behari’s Lahore headquarters near the Mochi Gate, where over a dozen leaders including Pingle met on 15 February 1915. Kirpal informed the police. Sensing that their plans had been compromised, the D-day was brought forward to 19 February, but even these plans found their way to the Punjab CID.
Plans for revolt by the 130th Baluchi Regiment at Rangoon on 21 February were thwarted. Attempted revolts in the 26th Punjab, 7th Rajput, 130th Baluch, 24th Jat Artillery and other regiments were suppressed. Mutinies in Firozpur, Lahore, and Agra were also suppressed and many key leaders of the conspiracy were arrested, although some managed to escape or evade arrest. A last-ditch attempt was made by Kartar Singh and Pingle to trigger a mutiny in the 12th Cavalry regiment at Meerut. Kartar Singh escaped from Lahore but was arrested in Benares, and V. G. Pingle was apprehended from the lines of the 12th Cavalry at Meerut, in the night of 23 March 1915. He carried “ten bombs of the pattern used in the attempt to assassinate Lord Hardinge in Delhi,” according to Mumbai police report. It is said that it was enough to blow up an entire regiment. Mass arrests followed as the Ghadarites were rounded up in Punjab and the Central Provinces. Rash Behari Bose escaped from Lahore and in May 1915 fled to Japan. Other leaders, including Giani Pritam Singh, Swami Satyananda Puri and others fled to Thailand or other sympathetic nations. Vishnu Ganesh Pingle[referred to as one of the principal conspirators in intelligence records] along with several other Ghadarites including Kartar Singh, Harnam Singh and Bhai Paramanand were tried at the Lahore Conspiracy trial in April 1915 by a special tribunal constituted under the Defence of India Act 1915, for their roles in the February plot. Pingle was executed by hanging at the Lahore Central Jail on November 16, 1915, along with Kartar Singh. Thus came the end of life of a nationalist revolutionary who kicked his bright future for the nation.

Source: Forgotten Heroes of Indian Struggle for Independence


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