Any struggle across the world for freedom or rights reverberates with “We shall overcome”. It was the unofficial anthem of the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the United States. In the subcontinent, that honour would go to Inqilaab Zindabad. It was the poet Hasrat Mohani (1875 – 1951) who coined the phrase Inqilaab Zindabad, which became the chant of Indian revolutionaries. Though Mohani is remembered today for his romantic ghazal Chupke chupke raat din, his poetry reflected his passionate love for his country and his goal of total freedom from the British rule. He was in fact the first person to demand Azadi-e-Kaamil or complete independence for India in 1921.
Rasm e jafa kaamyaab dekhiye kab tak rahe,
Hubb e watan mast e khwaab kab tak rahe,
Daulat e Hindustan qabzah e aghyar mein
Be adad o be hisaab dekhiye kab tak rahe!
(How long will tyranny succeed, let us see
Till when will freedom be a dream*, let us see
Hindustan’s riches are in the clutches of plunderers
Till When will this continue, let us see)
[*dream here alludes to awakening of Indians from their slumber]