Hemu Kalani: The Greatest Son of Sindh

Hemu Kalani belongs to that rare band of revolutionaries and martyrs of the Indian freedom movement whose indomitable spirits broke new resistance and for whom tortures of imprisonment had no meaning and death sentence held no terror. 

Son of Jethi Bai and Pesumal Kalani, Hemu was born at Sukkur in Sindh in a Sindhi Hindu Family on 23 March 1923.  

As a young boy, Hemu was influenced by the activities of his uncle, late Dr. Mangharam Kalani, who was a prominent leader of Sukkur (Sindh) and a veteran freedom fighter. Inspired by his uncle’s example, he joined the Swaraj Sena (A Student Organisation) and became its leader. He often led the boys of his locality with the tri-color in his hands. Along with his friends, he used to plead for boycotting all foreign goods.

He was soon drawn to revolutionary activities and started participating in rallies, Prabhat Pheries, where he was often seen shouting slogans of Bharat Mata ki Jai.

Sindh saw Hemu, a young brave freedom fighter, protesting against colonization. Soon more youngsters got inspired and joined him.

In October 1942, Hemu Kalani came to know that British troops and ammunition would be arriving in Sindh by train passing through his town. He decided to derail the train by removing the fishplates from the railway track. He and his friends were severely handicapped in not having any tools for loosening the nuts and bolts and for removing the fishplates. However, before they could complete the job, they were spotted by the British troops, and Hemu was caught in his effort to save his friends. 

At that time, martial law was enforced in Sindh due to Pir Pagaro’s ‘Hur Movement.’ His case was referred to a Martial Law Court at Hyderabad, which after a prolonged trial, found him guilty of treason against the government and sentenced him to life imprisonment. He was tortured brutally by police to give out the names of his friends, but he refused to do so. He took the entire blame on himself. He told the police and the court that if it was right for the foreign rulers to crush the freedom struggle by resorting to arms and ammunition, he, on his part, was fully

justified in attempting to destroy those very arms and ammunition.

The Martial Law Court of Sukkur forwarded its judgment of life imprisonment for the approval of Col. Richardson, the Chief Officer at the Head office at Hyderabad (Sindh). He was strongly against the revolutionaries and could not digest a young boy who was challenging the British authority. With a strong feeling of revenge, he converted the life imprisonment of Hemu Kalani into a death sentence.

The People of Sindh, shocked at the verdict, petitioned for mercy from the Viceroy, but the death sentence was to prevail unless Hemu turned an approver and gave information regarding his fellow revolutionaries. There was no question of Hemu accepting these conditions, and he welcomed the impending death cheerfully. This young freedom fighter and revolutionary was hung on 21 January 1943. 

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