Damodar Hari Chapekar: The patriot who never got his due

‘Every man dies, not everyone really lives’ – lines from movie ‘Braveheart’

Dedicated to great patriot Damodar Hari chapekar

The revolutionary action of a young man named Damodar Hari Chapekar changed the course of freedom struggle. A man of few words, Damodar shook the British Empire when he shot the plague commissioner W.C. Rand on 22nd June 1897 and made himself immortal in pages of history. Immortal in pages of history, but forgotten, ignored and rejected by historians. Even in history textbooks, he hardly finds any mention. The sacrifice of Damodar and his brothers Balkrishna and Vasudeo is yet to get its due.

The 1857’s first war of independence was already crushed by British. Even Vasudeo Balwant Phadke, the great Maratha revolutionary was sentenced to life imprisonment. At this critical juncture, Damodar’s bold move of killing commissioner Rand in Pune made headlines. He was not an irresponsible or misguided youth. Inspired by the actions of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Damodar had aspirations to join army.  But luck never favored him. Lastly, he decided to form his own group where he trained youngsters and kids to become bold with physical exercises and martial training. Supported by his brothers, Vasudeo, Balkrishna and his friends: Dutta Bhuskute & Ranade, Damodar protested against religious conversions and the inhuman treatment of plague patients by British police. When Damodar learned that Commissioner Rand was the mastermind behind the ransacking of houses & molestations of women during the plague outbreak, he decided to put an end to the tyranny of Commissioner Rand.

A rare pic of vasudev chapekar, ranade and sathe

22nd June 1897: The diamond jubilee celebration of Queen Victoria’s coronation was in full swing. Chapekar Brothers chose this day to assassinate Rand. ‘Gondya aala re’ was the signal to alert about the arrival of Commissioner Rand’s carriage. Due to confusion, one more British officer named Ayerst was also killed. Ayerst was mistaken to be commissioner Rand and shot to death by Balkrishna Chapekar. Later that night when Rand’s carriage arrived, Damodar succeeded in accomplishing his mission by shooting Rand. Later, several innocent youngsters were suspected as killers and subjected to torture. Damodar couldn’t bear the atrocities committed on the innocent youngsters and later he surrendered himself to the British police authorities. Damodar was betrayed by his own friends and accomplices – Bhide & Dravid Brothers. Though Damodar was hanged to death on 18th April 1899, his death was avenged by Vasudeo Chapekar and Ranade who killed the Dravid Brothers by shooting them in police station. Even Vasudeo, Ranade and Balkrishna were hanged to death. Damodar’s martyrdom inspired countless youngsters to plunge themselves in armed revolution. Veer Savarkar was one of them. Anant Kanhere, a young patriot continued the legacy of Damodar Chapekar by killing a British officer in a theatre.

Damodar Hari Chapekar was the first braveheart to plunge into armed revolution

Damodar Chapekar’s life was made into a web series titled: Gondya Aala Re. Even an 80’s movie: 22 June 1897 was based on Chapekar Brothers. History may have misquoted Damodar Hari Chapekar and his brothers as misguided & irresponsible youths who never cared about their family responsibilities, but this assumption is totally wrong. Damodar Hari Chapekar sacrificed his marital life and children for sake of nation. After the death of Chapekar Brothers, there was no whereabouts about their father Hari, a respected kirtankar who sang bhajans in temple. Even the mother of Chapekar brothers died due to illness. Damodar’s wife Durga and son Dhondu left Chapekar Wada and shifted to Chinchwad. It is such a shame that our government didn’t care to look after the family of Chapekar Brothers.

Actor bhushan Pradhan as damodar hari chapekar in web series – gondya ala re based on life of chapekar brothers

He was the one who started the trend of armed revolutionaries. Later that trend was followed by Madanlal Dhingra, Anant Kanhere, Khudiram Bose, Rajguru, Bhagat Singh & Sardar Udham Singh. The Chapekar Wada at Pune will remind you of the brave hero Damodar Chapekar who challenged the British Empire with his revolutionary actions.


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