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

Chittu Pandey

Ballia, Uttar Pradesh

November 11, 2021 to December 30, 2021

Born in Rattuchak, a village in Ballia District of Uttar Pradesh, Chittu Pandey was popularly referred to as the Sher-e-Ballia (Lion of Ballia).

A distinguished independence activist, he led the Quit India Movement in Ballia; described as the "Tiger of Ballia" by Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose, he headed the National Government declared and established on 19 August 1942 for a few days before it was suppressed by the British. The parallel government succeeded in getting the Collector to hand over power and release all the arrested Congress leaders. But within a week, soldiers marched in and the leaders had to flee.

A significant feature of the Quit India Movement of 1942 was the pre-emptive arrest of Gandhiji and the top leadership of the Congress, which left local leaders and the people of India to take the movement forward. With Gandhi’s mantra of ‘Do or Die’ as a driving force, some parts of the country saw the emergence of what came to be known as parallel governments. Chittu Pandey was one such local leader under whom the first parallel government was set up in Ballia, in east Uttar Pradesh.

However, this government did not last long. During the intervening night of 22–23 August, British military forces entered Ballia and overthrew the popular government. One can gauge the extent to which the British control had been wiped out of Ballia from the telegram sent by the British officer in charge to the Governor of United Province, Maurice Hallett, which read - ‘Ballia Reconquered’.

What followed was a story of brutal suppression, arrests, fines and long jail terms for the leaders, though Chittu Pandey is said to have escaped. However, the saga of the brave deeds and the sacrifice of the people earned for Ballia the epithet ‘Revolutionary Ballia’.