Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

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Paying tribute to India’s freedom fighters

A. G. Lunje

Solapur, Maharashtra

May 22, 2023 to May 22, 2024

A.G. Lunje, a relatively obscure figure, contributed significantly to India's fight for independence. As a local congressman hailing from the Solapur district of Maharashtra, Lunje held the position of secretary in the Solapur City Congress Committee. Nevertheless, information regarding his background and contribution remains scant, a shared predicament among many local freedom fighters who played an essential role in India's struggle for independence.

Lunje's political activism came to the fore during the 1930s when the British introduced the Government of India Act 1935, which went into effect in 1937. This new legislative body sparked political unrest throughout the country, with its leaders leaving no stone unturned in criticizing the constitution for various reasons, which Lunje likewise opposed. The constitution was widely criticized for granting insufficient autonomy to Indians and more power to the British, providing limited franchise rights to only a few percent of Indians, implementing separate electorates that allowed specific communities to vote for only candidates of their community, and most importantly, lacking a provision for the constituent assembly, thus denying Indians the right to draft their constitution. Lunje was vocal in his opposition to this new constitutional framework, holding numerous meetings throughout the city to educate the masses about its unjust provisions. He exhorted the audience to observe hartal, a form of civil disobedience in defiance of the Constitution. Through his speeches, he also condemned the celebration of the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937, as it would symbolize the acceptance of British colonialism. He urged the audience to boycott the celebration and not participate in any procession or arrangement, instead striving towards the goal of Purna Swaraj, complete independence. Moreover, he was not afraid to criticize even the Congress Ministry for allowing the Criminal Law Amendment Act and Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to be enforced in Solapur in 1937, as it could potentially suppress political dissent and curtail civil liberties, leading to his subsequent resignation from the party. The City Congress Committee protested against Lunje's statement and requested the withdrawal of Section 144. Furthermore, Lunje condemned the inefficiency of the police personnel in the Bhagat Cinema accident and actively solicited the support of locals for Congress, speaking in favor of the celebration of National Week, which aimed to promote the idea of complete independence through various means, such as processions, cultural events, and speeches by political leaders, among others. Lunje's political activism came at a cost, as he was frequently imprisoned, particularly for his speeches and shouting slogans. On one occasion, he even resorted to pelting stones at the police for unclear reasons.

Although A.G. Lunje's contribution to the freedom struggle was not extensively documented, his political activism, particularly his vocal opposition to British colonialism, played a crucial role in inspiring the masses to join the Congress and eventually the freedom movement for Purna Swaraj.