Saturday, 24 March 2018

Remembering Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, an Editor Who Lived – and Died – for Communal Harmony


Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru mounted the scaffold on 23rd of March 1931. The Whole nation was in utter anguish, streets were flooded with protesters agitating against the British Government for the 'Murder' of their Beloved Bhagat Singh and his Comrades. Hindus, Muslim, Sikhs and all other communities irrespective of their indifferences were mourning the death of their heroes.
All of them were supposed to come together and stand up against the exploiters' government of British imperialists. But, Kanpur was going in a very different way that brought the nation's head down with shame and disgust. When the whole nation was standing united against the Britshers, Kanpur was burning in the fire of Communal riots. And that riot took away a dearest son of the nation, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi.
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi, a journalist, a social worker, an esteemed politician, a fearless freedom fighter, who fought both with pen and the sword was born on 26 October, 1890 in his maternal hometown Atarsuyyiya Allahabad, United Province (now Utter Pradesh). His father Shri Jainarayan was serving as a school teacher in Gwaliar estate. He acquired his primary education in Mungoli and Vidisha. He was very studious and hard-working since his childhood.


He had a very vast interest in reading, including philosophy and literature. That deep interest in reading led him to become a journalist of that repute. After passing Middle, Vidyarthi went to Kanpur for the sake of earning. He later returned to Vidisha on the advice of his uncle and resumed his schooling.
He appeared in the Matric examination as a private student and passed the examination in 1907. While his stay in Vidisha, he was brooding as a penman and came up with his first book "Hamari Atmogsargat" in Hindi at the age of 16. He was bound in the wedlock with Chandraprakashwati on 4 June 1909.
Before establishing himself as a Journalist, Ganesh Shankar Vidyathi tried his skills with several professions like teaching, as a homeopathic doctor and also was employed in an insurance company. In the early times of his journalism, his stories used to publish in Saraswati, Swarajye and Karmyogi, all leading journals of their time. Acharye Mahavir Prasad Dvivedi was very much impressed with his skills. He called him to work for Saraswati.
Ganesh Shankar worked for Saraswati during 1911-13. In November 1913, he came back to Kanpur and started his own newspaper in Hindi by the name "Pratap". Pratap was the mouthpiece of downtrodden and exploited citizens of the enslaved nation. Due to its legacy Pratap faced several bans and fines from the very beginning of its publication, but Ganesh Shankar never let it go down.
He kept on serving the nation through his pen. He was also involved with revolutionaries by various means. A lot of times he provided moral and financial support to the revolutionaries during their stay in Kanpur. When Bhagat Singh reached Kanpur in 1923, he was facing severe financial problems. Ganesh Shankar recruited him in Pratap to help him financially. Bhagat Singh wrote several articles by the pseudo name of Balwant Singh and received a reasonable amount that was sufficient for his livelihood.
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was a patriot in the true sense. He always advocated the necessity of communal harmony between the Hindus and Muslims of India. He utilized his journalistic skills to propagate his vision among the masses. At the end of March 1931, communal violence broke out in Kanpur. When the whole nation was speaking out against the government for the death of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru, Kanpur was witnessing the bloodshed in the name of religion.
Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was conscious of the power of the press. He constantly appealed to the people to not to be involved in such sentiments. It was the fateful day of 25 March 1931. Ganesh Shankar Vidarthi was visiting a riot affected area where he met his fate. He gave away his life while protecting a Muslim family from the rioters. The advocate of communal harmony was lying wounded on the ground. He was not just that fateful, when the riots halted his lifeless body was found unattended in a heap of corpses in a hospital of Kanpur.
The condition of his body was so pitiable that it was difficult to be identified. Finally, on 29 March, the warrior of the pen was cremated in Kanpur. Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was murdered, but no one can kill his ideas, his legacy of love. He will always remain immortal through his ideas.


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