Very few people in this country are even aware of this young martyr, who was done in, in the most gruesome manner by the British dictators. While the exact birth date of this young hero is yet to be ascertained, it is confirmed that he was born in 1908. So, Babu Genu was just 22 years, when he met his end on 12th December 1930, fighting the British. It is the memory of such freedom fighters that India should nurture, in order to truly understand the great sacrifices of those who collectively brought India freedom. The youth of India then were not afraid to raise their voices against the British administration, and in the process even risked their lives.
Babu Genu was born in 1908, into a poverty ridden family, in the Pune district of Maharashtra. His father was a farmer, and the only prized possession of the family was a bullock, that was used for farming. The other members of his family were his mother, two elder brothers and a sister. His father passed away in 1910, when he was only 2 years old. Then came the second blow, when the bullock died. These were the twin tragedies that Babu Genu had to face, very early on in his life, and given their economic background, his mother was left with an uphill task of running the family. She left her sons back in the villages, and moved to Mumbai, in order to earn a livelihood as a domestic help.
While the economic situation of his family meant that Babu Genu was deprived of a formal education, this did not deter him from understanding the ground realities facing the country under British Administration.
Joining the Freedom Movement
Babu Genu soon joined his mother in Mumbai and sought to support her, as a casual labourer in the mills of Mumbai. Meanwhile, he also got in touch with a few leaders of the freedom movement, and understood the freedom struggle in its true perspective. Very soon, Babu Genu was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and the principles of non-violence and Satyagraha, enunciated by him. He joined the Indian National Congress and became a part of the Freedom Movement.
The Understanding of Babu Genu
Even at a young age Babu Genu was able to grasp the symbiotic link between geo-politics and geo-economics. He knew that economics was the driving force of British rule and establishment of the British Raj was merely a ruse to perpetuate the economic dominance of the British over India. If the British were to be economically crippled, then their rule would collapse.
It is this aspect of the struggle that Babu Genu focused on, and was a strong advocate of Swadesh goods, which led to his eventual martyrdom in 1930.
On 12th December, 1930, a cloth merchant, George Frazier of Manchester was transporting his foreign produced cloths from his shop at old Hanuman Galli in Mumbai, to Mumbai port. The activists of freedom struggle, requested them not to move the truck, but their calls were of no avail, as this merchant had sought and got full police protection. The protesters were driven away by the police, as the truck began to move.
Near Bhaangwadi on Kalbadevi Road, Shahid Babu Genu stood in front of the truck, shouting praises for Mahatma Gandhi. The police officer ordered the driver to drive the truck over Shahid Babu Genu. But the driver was an Indian. He refused and said “I am Indian and he is also Indian and we both are brothers to each other. How can I murder my brother?”
The English police officer was infuriated and pushed away the truck driver and himself sat on the driver’s seat. He now drove the truck over Babu Genu and crushed him to death. This resulted in a huge wave of anger, strikes, and protests throughout Mumbai.
In his honour
Today, there are many landmarks named after Babu Genu in Maharashtra, such as Babu Genu Ground in Mumbai, Babu Genu Said Wadi in Pune district, Babu Genu Chowk in Pune, and Babu Genu Mandal in Pune.
Babu Genu Mandal Pune
The road passing at the Hanuman Galli in Mumbai is today named after Babu Genu.
Babu Genu Road, Mumbai
A Dam on Ghod River, in the Dimbhe Taluk, near Pune, is named after Babu Genu, namely Hutatma Babu Genu Sagar Dam, Hutatma meaning martyr and Sagar, sea.
Hutatma Babu Genu Sagar Dam
Revive memories of our Freedom fighters
A youth of just 22 years had stood strong and given up his life for the cause of the Indian Independence movement. Should we forget the sacrifices of such martyrs, who sowed the seeds of freedom, which we all are all enjoying now? It is high time we revive the memories and contributions of these martyrs, which will be a fitting tribute to their sacrifices. Long live the memory of Babu Genu and all other martyrs whose sacrifices brought us freedom.