Martyr Anant Kanhere – A determined and brave revolutionary

On the 110th Martyrdom Anniversary of freedom fighter

“In the people’s court, punishment for those who treat Hindus as worthless, is death, and I did the auspicious job of giving such a punishment to Jackson. I want to tell the people that they should give the most severe punishment to such offenders in their court.”
– Martyr Anant Lakshman Kanhere

Anant Kanhere was born in 1891 at Ayani-Mete in Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra. He went to Aurangabad for English education and stayed there with his uncle. Kashinath Tonape, a member of a Secret Freedom Fighter’s Organisation of Nashik, Maharashtra, administered the oath of secrecy of the Secret Organisation to Anantarao. After the murder of Sir William Hutt Curzon Wyllie by Madanlal Dhingra, Anantrao too became impatient to perform a similar task.

Hypocrite, vindictive Arthur Mason Tippetts Jackson

Jackson, the District Collector of Nashik tried his best to see that people were scared of the British and they kept away from any efforts towards acquiring Independence. He learnt Sanskrut and Marathi. He used to say that he was a learned Brahman in his previous birth, who had knowledge of the Vedas. This was only a trick to deceive innocent and simple people. There was a British officer named William who had kicked an innocent farmer to death; but Jackson protected him. He punished all the youth who sang ‘Vande Mataram’. He got Babarao Savarkar arrested for publishing patriotic songs and paraded him in shackles.

Preparations for Jackson’s killing

On 19th September 1909, Anantrao went to Nashik from Aurangabad by train. He was given a gun by Vinayakrao Deshpande. He practised shooting with that gun in a deserted place. He went to the District Collector’s office and observed Jackson. He got himself photographed with the thought that he would be hanged after killing Jackson; therefore, after his death, his parents and brother should at least have one photo in his memory.

Meanwhile, Jackson was promoted from the post of District Collector and was transferred from Nashik. Programs were being arranged to bid him farewell. The revolutionaries thought that it would become difficult to kill Jackson once he was transferred from Nashik and therefore, they decided to kill him soon. Anna Karve was in Nashik at that time. He made a plan to kill Jackson. On 29th December 1909, a Marathi drama titled ‘Sharada’ was staged by Kirloskar Theaters in honour of Jackson. During the interval of this play, there was going to be a felicitation of Jackson followed by a few speeches. Anna Karve finalised this day to kill Jackson. He gave two pistols, sent by Swatantryaveer Savarkar from London, to Anantrao.

Killing of Jackson

As Jackson was entering the theatre hall, Anantrao swiftly took out his pistol and shot at Jackson from behind but the bullet missed the target and flew past Jackson’s hand; then immediately, Anantrao came forward and shot Jackson 4 times at point blank range. Bleeding, Jackson collapsed on the floor. Later, Anantrao was disarmed by Policemen Todarmal and Khopkar. He stood there very calmly and bravely. He said to the Policemen, “I carried out this auspicious act to take revenge for the oppression of Hindus by the British. I punished the oppressor Jackson with death. I do not want to run away”.

Court’s verdict in Jackson’s case

In his testimony, Anantrao said, “I carried out this act on my own without anyone’s help or guidance”. He did not disclose any information about his associates to the Police and told them that he bought a pistol from an Arabian trader. He took every precaution that nobody, who was a part of this conspiracy, would be caught but the cowardly Ganu Vaidya along with Dattu Joshi (who were known to Anantrao) turned turtle as amnesty witnesses; as a result, all the revolutionaries involved in this conspiracy were caught.

As per the verdict, Anant Kanhere, Anna Karve and Vinayak Deshpande were sentenced to death. On 19th April 1910, these 3 young men were sent to the gallows at 7.00 a.m. in Thane jail; they looked very calm and brave. The British Government did not let people perform even their last rites. The Government did not agree to the request of their relatives and cremated their bodies at the Thane creek and threw their ashes in the sea so that the relatives did not even get the ashes. At the age of 18, Anant Kanhere sacrificed his life for the freedom of our country.