Those 15 days - National Scenario During Independence - 15 (English)

Those Fifteen Days 

*15th August 1947* 

- Prashant Pole 

As if, India hasn’t slept tonight. Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Madras, Bangalore, Indore, Patna, Baroda, Nagpur… how many cities to be named? It’s jubilation since last night, in every corner of this country. Therefore, keeping this background into mind, the dispirited environment of in Pakistan is much clearer. 

All the people who were enjoying the spirit of independence by roaming the whole city, have already reached back home and now they wait for morning newspapers. How would have these newspapers described the celebration of independence? But this morning, newspapers arrived late because all the newspapers must publish the mid-night meeting’s proceedings about the constitution. Today’s newspapers have published an eight-column headline! 

Delhi’s “Hindustan Times” Headline says - India Independent: British Rule Ends 
Calcutta’s “Statesman’s” headlines are - Two Dominions are Borne 
Delhi’s “Hindustan” in big letters has written – After Century’s Tales, A morning filled with Goodness in India 
Mumbai’s “Time of India” writes - Birth of India’s Freedom 
Headline of “Don”, which is published from Karachi - Birth of Pakistan – an Event in History 
____ ____ ____ ____ 

The City of Calcutta was also awake the whole night. The people wanted to experience the taste of independence completely. Today Calcutta’s environment is reflecting a fantastic change. There is no news of Hindu-Muslim hostility from anywhere. Just a couple of days back, the Hindus and Muslims who were ready to take each other’s lives are today embracing each other. The whole city is echoing with the slogans of Hindu-Muslim unity. And for sure, the credit of this magical change can be given to Gandhiji, who is motivating citizens from an ordinary room of Haidari Manzil in Beliaghat. 

These days, Haidari Manzil has become a holy place for natives of Calcutta. Since yesterday, masses of people are gathering to have a glimpse of Gandhiji, even if from far. Possibilities look as if today will be the same. 

But for Gandhiji, today is just another day. Just like everyday, as per his time-table, today too he woke up early by 3:00 AM. His today’s to-do list had cleaning of toilets. And after completing these tasks, he went out for his morning walk. Today, he was to fast for whole day and had to spend his maximum time in spinning at his spinning wheel. 
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In India, it is 8:30 in the morning and there in Singapore, the time is eleven AM. Indian communities in areas like Archer Road, Waterloo Street, Serangoon Road have organised in a big way, flag-hoisting and other programs, in the event of Indian Independence Day. 

There is some confusion amongst the people as to which national song should be sung. Therefore, Indian Singaporeans have started singing this song as the National song – 

Nectar, happiness and security rains 
Fate of India has risen. 
Punjab, Avadh, Gujrat, Maratha, 
Dravid, Orrisa, Bengal 
Agile Ocean, Vindhyas and Himalaya 
Rivers Neela Yamuna Ganges 
All sing your praises 
They get their life from you 
They take shape from your hope 
One who shines like The Sun 
Fate of India has risen. 
Let there be victory. Let there be victory… 
____ ____ ____ ____ 

Calcutta Beliaghat 

Morning 9:00 AM. Officers of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, with their gadgets have come to take Gandhiji’s reaction. But Gandhiji’s plain reply is, “I have nothing to say”. Still he was requested by saying if he doesn’t give any message today, it will not be suitable. Inspite of all this, Gandhiji’s plain reply is, “I have no message. If it does not look good, so be it”. 

After a while, BBC representatives arrived but Gandhiji said the same words to them too. 
____ ____ ____ ____ 
Delhi, Vice Regal Palace… 

Resident of Ex-Viceroys. Meaning Rajprasad. Now this building has been renamed as “Government House”. And India’s First Governor General Lord Mountbatten is taking his oath in this venue. The huge Darbar Hall of the Government House has been grandly decorated. Even though it is morning time, the lights and chandeliers have been lit up. 

Exactly at 9, formal proceedings begin. The program started by blowing the silver clarion. After that Shankh or Conch was sounded. The walls of this hall have heard for the first time the sounds of a clarion and a conch. 

Lord Mountbatten standing in his starched uniform in front of India’s first Chief Judge, Sir Harilal Jaikishandas Kaania. He kissed the Bible and took his oath. The whole Darbar Hall is teeming with Ministers, Members of the Parliament and officers. But missing from here are those royalties who are usually always present in these ceremonies. 
____ ____ ____ ____ 

Calcutta. Beliaghat 

While spinning on his spinning wheel, Gandhiji dictated a letter for his British friend Miss Agatha Harrison. In a lighter vein, he wrote, “received your letter to me sent via Rajaji. Evidently, Rajaji couldn’t come in person to deliver the letter, as since last night many people have gathered at his Governor House to witness Britisher’s home”. 

Post this, Gandhiji dictated a letter for the newly appointed ministers of West Bengal. In this letter, he mentioned his favourite elements meaning truth, non-violence and gentleness and requested them to follow these. Cautioning them of the down side of power, he mentioned, “Remember that power corrupts…. never forget that you have come here to serve the poor people.” 

After a while about 10 AM, newly appointed Governor of West Bengal, Chakravarti Rajgopalachari, visited Gandhiji. This vist was heart-touching. Two ascetic independence-fighters were meeting to rejoice this gift. 

Rajgopalachari said to Gandhiji, as they met, “Bapu, I honour you… You have cast a spell over Calcutta”. But Gandhiji’s answer was somewhat different. He said, “But I am not completely satisfied with the situation of Calcutta. Till the time the people who have suffered during the riots do not return to their homes, I do not feel any great work is done.” 

Rajaji narrated the night’s programs that happened in the Governor’s House. Gandhiji was fasting so there was no question of eating anything. About after an hour of visit, Rajaji returned. 
___ ____ ____ ____ 

Mumbai. Dadar. Savarkar Sadan. 

Since morning Tatyarao (alias Vinayak Savarkar) was visibly distressed. He hasn’t had anything to eat or drink. The thought of divided India has pierced him in his heart. It is very clear to him that we are giving up our country in the hands of extremely weak rulers. 

Still there is a sparkle in the feeling of independence. The independence for which he was sentenced to Kaala Pani twice, he was under house arrest for fifteen years, he flung himself into the depths of oceans, stayed in the dark cell of Andaman where he went through the difficult tortures including toiling in place of an ox to churn out oil. 

No matter that the country is divided, independence is received, for sure! 

It about to be 10 AM. Many activists from Hindu Mahasabha have come to meet Tatyarao. In their presence, revolutionist Braveheart Vinayak Damodar hoisted two flags – first the kesari flag which represents undivided nation and second the Indian tricolour. He offered flowers to both the flags and stood in silence for a few minutes. 
____ ____ ____ ____ 

Delhi. Council House’s round building 

Morning 10:30AM. Today’s agenda is to hoist Indian tricolour which has an imprint of Ashoka Chakra. All the ministers who have taken oath from Vice Regal Palace, senior officials and senior leaders of Congress, have started approaching the Couoncil House slowly. This is a small and simple program. After a while, Nehru is expected to arrive to hoist the National Flag. 

This round building is located on a small hill. All around the council house, people have gathered. All of them are citizens of a free India. During the times of Britishers, ordinary Indians were not allowed to enter this building. But today is different that is why hundreds of curious, happy, excited people are raising emotional slogans of “Vande Mataram”. They are hailing loudly, Gandhi and Nehru’s names. In their happiness and excitement, they wonder how they should express themselves. 

Nehru arrives at the venue. His cabinet ministers are with him. For the first time, this “Council Hall” which has been designed by Edwin Lutiyen and Herbert Baker on this hillock, tricolour will be hoisted. As it is not yet finalised which will be our National song, everyone is raising the slogans of “Vande Mataram” and the sky is echoing with pride. 
____ ____ ____ ____ 

Lahore. DAV College. 2:00 PM 

Within college premises and in hostel too, there is a refugee camp called “Punjab Help Committee” which is run by Rashtriya Sevak Sangh. Doctors from Lahore Medical College, students, few women doctors and nurses hasve started on their own, a small hospital here, that has 20 cots. Hindus and Sikh refugees from Western Punjab who have left all their homes, farms and fields, shops and manufacturing units, are reaching this camp in completely pathetic condition. 

Since last night, as whole India was celebrating, this side the situation had become quite grim. Hordes of Hindus & Sikhs were reaching the camp somehow by saving their lives. The stories of torture they have gone through are enough to numb minds and arouse fury. Many Sikh sisters and wives have been kidnapped by Muslim goons. On the other hand, many women and girls have committed suicide by jumping into wells. 

Every day, at 1:30 PM a Sangh worker by the name of Sardar Kulvant Singh is bringing food for the people living in this camp. Although since last 3-4 days, it is becoming very difficult to continue. 

Today it is around 2:15 – 2:30 PM. To see why Kulvant Singh hasn’t come yet, another worker went out into the city to find out. At some distance, he saw a crowd of people. Going closer, he saw Kulvant Singh was lying in his own blood in the middle of the road. Nearby his motro cycle was lying. The tiffin boxes tied to the carrier on his motor cycle, which had the food for camp inmates, was strewn about and was slowing getting mixed with his blood on the road. 

At the time when Ministers in Delhi were taking their oath, at the time when Gandhiji was dictating letters to the Ministers of West Bengal that, “Protect the Muslims”…at the same time, here in Lahore, Muslim goons killed with a knife in broad day-light, in the middle of the road, a volunteer by the name of Kulvant Singh who was reaching to Hindu and Sikh refugees, their daily food. 
____ ____ ____ ____ 

Delhi. India Gate grounds. 

Here, a grand public program has been organised to hoist Indian flag. The ground is full of thousands of people. There is sludge and slime at places due to rains, but people do not care for it. Their enthusiasm and excitement are at peak. 

Exactly at 4:30 PM, Nehru hoists tricolour here. It has just rained, and that is why just behind the hoisted flag, a rainbow is visible. This is an enchanting scene. Lord Mountbatten keeps on staring at this enthralling view. 
____ ____ ____ ____ 

Calcutta. Beliaghat. Evening around 5:00 PM 

Gandhiji’s evening prayers have been organised at “Raash Gardens”. Since it is the first evening prayers by Gandhiji in an Independent India, it is estimated that crowd will be larger. 

Gandhiji insists that he will walk down to the ground. The ground is close – about 5 minutes walking distance on a normal day. But today, people have gathered in huge numbers. The capacity of the ground is about 30000 people and it is almost full. That’s why it took 20 minutes for Gandhiji to reach the dais. 

After prayers and after spinning his wheel, Gandhiji began to speak in calm and low voice, “What I said yesterday, I am repeating today. I welcome all Hindus-Muslims of Calcutta. You all have made an impossible work, possible. Now I request you to allow entry to Muslims in temples and allow Hindus in Mosques. This will bring unity and strengthen both communities’ relations.” 

“Still I am hearing about the Muslims being troubled at few places. But keep in mind that in Calcutta and Howra, there should be no harm to Muslims.” 

After this, Gandhiji mentioned about the looting by crowds last night at Raj Bhawan. He said, “People are thinking that we have attained independence so now all our restrictions have been lifted. We can behave in any way we want. But this is not right. What happened at Raj Bhawan yesterday was unfortunate. We must put our independence to good use. Any European who wants to stay in India must receive treatment as we expect from them. 

After this evening prayer, Gandhiji broke his 24 hours long fast, by drinking a glass of lemonade. 
___ ____ ____ ____ 

An era of darkness is over, and the country is once again, independent. Last many generations of Indians were under foreign rule and the greatest challenge was to change the weak mentality of Indians due to this situation. 

Although the country was divided, the India still has more Muslims than newly formed State of Pakistan. The proposal by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar to completely exchange the population between countries had been rejected by Congress. At present, many regions of the country are burning in the religious enmity. It is possible that it will become fierce in future. The question of uprooted population is remains unanswered. 

Kashmir situation is still not solved. Nizam’s State which is at the centre of the country, is still not a part of India and is painful for Hindus. Goa is still under the control of Portugal. Pondicherry, Chandnagar are still not returned to India. On the other hand, due to Nehru’s obstinacy, India has lost North West Frontier Province under the leadership of Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. 

Today, when we are welcoming Independent India, looking at this picture, pierces our heart. Due to non-inclusion of these parts of our country, India appears to be weak from security and economic point of view. Due to lack of strong leadership and prudent vision, there is a huge question mark for our country’s future. 

When an independent India is entering a new era, a difficult list of questions is facing us. Only a robust, strong and visionary leader can lead this country into a brighter future. 

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