Memories of August 15, 1947

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 15.08.14
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Although I was not born then but I have heard from my elders how they had celebrated Independence Day on August 15, 1947. The day was a sad one for our family, as my grandfather’s shradh ceremony was performed on that day. My uncle, Manajendranath Bhattacharya, had, however, captured the events and the ambience around Ramrajatala area on the morning of Independence Day in his movie camera. Later, we would watch this video at home during vacations.

As a young boy, I had heard from my elders that people had decorated their homes, shops and schools with the national tricolour. My maternal uncle, Ram Kumar Sanyal, recalled the scenes of celebration from a few days before August 15. A couple of days before, Krishna Kumar Chattopadhyay, an influential leader in Howrah, had come in his jeep to Ramrajatala and had announced, in hushed tones, that India would soon be free. As the fear of the British had not eradicated completely, people were still skeptical and would speak about it in hushed tones. Local people had gathered at Santragachhi Kedarnath Institution at 11.30 pm on August 14. There was an underlying tension as people waited for the news of the declaration of Independence to come in. The scout master, Bimal Kar, was busy preparing for the morning band programme.

Finally, the headmaster of Santragachhi Kedarnath Institution, Hemanta Mukherjee, asked my uncle, Ram Kumar to hoist the flag above the school building. The time was 12.02 am. As Independence was declared, women started blowing conch shells.

On the morning of August 15, Ramarajatala was full of people, food and bands playing music. In comparison to what Independence meant to people at that time, today, August 15 is merely a holiday for people to enjoy.

 Poltoo Bhattacharya, Ramrajatala

 

My elder sister, Purabi Banerjee, now lives in Calcutta. She is over 70 years old but can still recall memories of August 15, 1947. She remembers the jubilation on the streets of Salkia and all around the town. Our father had taken her and our eldest brother out to Calcutta to watch the celebrations.

My sister remembers wearing a new salwar kameez, something that was quite unthinkable in conservative households. My father was progressive and allowed her to wear such clothes. My brother had worn a dress designed like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. People were saluting him for his dress.

As far as she can recall, the streets of Calcutta and Howrah were crowded with people. No one was inside their homes on that day. There were food stalls everywhere and people were busy eating and enjoying their first day of freedom. The tricolour was flying everywhere, over people’s houses, shops and almost all buildings of the city and town.

Recently, while going through some old documents and gazettes in the Police archives, I came across a letter written by the superintendent of police in Howrah to his superior. In that letter, he had written that on August 15, 1947, the whole of Howrah town looked festive. The national flag had been hoisted everywhere – on all government buildings, public places and at all important locations. Trams and buses were crowded with people shouting ‘Jai Hind’ and everyone greeted each other cheerfully.

Anupam Mukherjee, Salkia

 

I was studying in Class IV of Sri Ramakrishna Sikshalaya in 1947. Although I remember some of the events, I was too young to understand the significance of Independence at that time. On August 15, I remember taking part in a prabhat pheri (early morning procession) that started from the school on Narasingha Dutta Road and went around a large part of central Howrah. At the school playground, students sang patriotic songs and the national flag was hoisted. I had heard that various programmes were being held at different parts of Howrah. One such was held at the ground near our house in Gopal Banerjee Lane. I remember, Shah Nawaz Khan of Azad Hind Fouj being felicitated there.

My father was a strict parent and would not let us go out easily. Although there was a lot of celebrations all around the town, we could not take part in anything. The fear of communal riots still loomed in the hearts of the common people like my father, so even though they were jubilant, they would not show it.

Rabilal Dutta, Gopal Banerjee Lane