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October - November 2004
Memorial to Indian Patriot: Shyamaji Krishnaverma
On the 15th of August this year, while the Indian nation celebrated its 57th year of independence from British rule, a solemn and unique event took place in Muswell Hill Road, Highgate, London.
As the sun shone bright in the late afternoon , a group of UK-based Indians – men, women and children - assembled at No 60 for the unveiling of a plaque in memory of a remarkable Indian patriot Pundit Shyamaji Krishnaverma, who lived at this address at the turn of the 20th century.
plaque with the inscription ‘Revolutionary Pandit Shyamaji Krishnaverma,
1857-1930, Indian patriot lived here 1900-1907,’
was ceremoniously unveiled amidst a joyous outburst from the audience.The
special red-yellow-green ‘Vande-Matarum’ banner earlier covering
the plaque was the original flag of the Indian Home Rule Society formed
by Shyamaji in London at a time when such political activity by an Indian
was frowned upon by British authorities and targeted by the secret service
of that era.
Besides being a relentless revolutionary and a strong advocate for Indian
independence, Shyamaji also had the distinction of being the first
Indian to be called to the bar as a Barrister.
Hemantkumar Padhya, who has worked for seven years for this memorial, in his tribute to the late Shyamaji Krishnaverma, spoke of the latter’s ‘vision’ for freedom from British rule and his contribution to the struggle for India’s independence. Padhyaji also announced the launch of a special commemorative 60gm silver coin in memory of Shyamaji, as well as a 22-page colour souvenir on his life.
Ranger, following his unveiling of the memorial plaque, in his reference
to Shyamaji said that it was a matter of pride that in the 19th century
there was such a dedicated Indian who devoted his life for the emancipation
of India and the Indian people from foreign domination.
Shyamaji Krishnaverma was born in the year 1857 in the small town of Mandavi in Gujarat, India, and though of humble beginning strove for higher education and became a scholar in Vedic philosophy, international affairs, Sanskrit and English. He was ‘discovered’ by Professor Williams of Oxford University in 1876 who, on his visit to India, happened to be in Bombay and attended a lecture by Shyamaji. The visiting professor was so impressed with the young Indian’s speech that he arranged for Shyamaji to come to England as his assistant!
Shyamaji returned to India in 1885 and came under the influence of
Lokmaniya Tilak and other revolutionary leaders and the Indian Nationalist
Movement. But as the political climate in India at that time became
increasingly intolerable for ‘Freedom Fighters’, Shyamaji
decided to go back to England in March 1897, studied law at the Inner
Temple in London, and became a Barrister.
things became too hot for him, Shyamaji took refuge in Paris in early
1907 before his imminent arrest in London, eventually to land up in
Switzerland in 1914 where he passed away in 1930. His wife Bhanumati
died three years later. Both were cremated in Geneva, and their ashes
were eventually taken to India on 23 August 2003.