• 29-May-2023

ANANT LAKSHMAN KANHERE The revolutionary from Nashik

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“I carried out this act on my own without anyone’s help or guidance.”
- The testimony given by Anant Lakshman Kanhere during his trial.

Anant Lakshman Kanhere was born on 7 January 1891 at Ayani-Mete in Ratnagiri District (Maharashtra), to a Konkan family. He had two brothers and two sisters. His early years were spent in Nizamabad, where he completed his primary education. He later shifted to Aurangabad, where he came in contact with people who worked in secret revolutionary groups. Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, a youth organization called Abhinav Bharat headed by Vinayak Savarkar and Ganesh Savarkar was formed. They spared no efforts to spread the spirit of revolution through the akharas (wrestling arenas). Anant joined the Abhinav Bharat organization, for he believed in their philosophy that the British regime could be overthrown only through an armed rebellion. With the atrocities committed by the British against Indians steadily increasing, anti-British sentiments among the commoner were rising. 

The British brutality towards leaders like Lokmanya Tilak, Ganesh Savarkar, and others was agitating the people and infusing them with feelings of revenge and hatred. Jackson, who was then the District Collector of Nasik and known for his merciless ways, was identified as the prime target by the revolutionaries. The ruthless Jackson was responsible for the prosecution of Babarao Savarkar and he also tortured Waman Sakharam Khare (a lawyer whose only offence was that he fought for the revolutionaries) to such an extent that he lost his mental balance. The final straw was when a British officer beat a farmer to death for not allowing his vehicle to overtake and Jackson had the audacity to hide the crime and the crime-doer. The people of Nasik began to revolt against such wrongdoings. Jackson was hastily given a promotion and transfer to ensure that the matter was hushed up. A farewell was organised for him at the Vijayanand theatres. Anant Kanhere saw this as the last opportunity to avenge the damage caused by Jackson to numerous lives, and he was determined that he alone would be held accountable for this operation.

On 29th December 1909, the District Collector of Nasik (presently called Nashik), Mr Jackson, was publicly honoured, as he was transferred to another district. While a drama titled ‘Sharda’ was enacted on stage as part of the program, off stage another drama that would etch itself in the history of India’s freedom struggle was about to unfold. The play had reached midway, it was the intermission, and the audience was about to move around when all of a sudden, the auditorium echoed with the sounds of gunshots. The guest of honour, the District Collector, had been shot dead. The killing was carried out by a young 18-year-old named Anant Lakshman Kanhere.

As per the plan, Anant Kanhere was supposed to kill himself after shooting Jackson. Though Anant successfully eliminated Jackson, he was caught before he could end his own life. In his testimony during the trial, he is believed to have said, “I carried out this act on my own without anyone’s help or guidance.” Such was his determination to keep his comrades out of the conspiracy.

However, one of the revolutionaries turned hostile and as a result, all those involved in the scheme were arrested. On 19 April 1910, young Anant, at the age of nineteen, was executed along with Keshav Karve and Deshpande, making him one of the youngest revolutionaries in India to be hanged by the British.