15th August 1947: A Day That Was Not More Than Just Celebrations

Posted: December 21, 2018

The author recounts the most historic day in Indian History, 15th August 1947, as her grandparents were party to the day that did not unfold as everyone would have wanted.

In 1947, my grandparents lived in Faridnagar, a small town near Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. My grandfather was an engineer with the Irrigation Department posted at Faridnagar. Remember, Meerut was the place which saw India’s first revolt for Independence.

Serving under the British, any talk of the freedom movement was a taboo at work. But, the couple was deeply patriotic and followed the freedom movement closely. These were very difficult times.

As a child grandma was a volunteer with the ‘Gandhi Charkha Sangh’, which encouraged people to donate generously towards nurturing the khadi movement. Charkha spinning was regular activity as it synced you up with the movement even if you were not protesting on the streets.

Bibi, as everyone called my grandma lovingly, has vivid memories of the pre Independence days.

She recounts the harrowing journey from Faridnagar to Agra, to her father’s home, just before India plunged into civil war. The family was escorted to safety out of Faridnagar by the British in closed vehicles. The scene on the roads was far from celebratory. There was danger every step of the way. To find human bodies on streets was common sight.

As she says, “Freedom happened too early for India”.

15 August, 1947 was a day was filled with speeches, celebrations and sweet distribution. The rich and well to do lit up their homes and there were festivities all around. In small town India the affluent went all out to treat the townsfolk.

The celebrations were short-lived.

Indians were unprepared for the trauma of partition.

Within two days, every street and home was unhappy, insecure and in danger of mob fury. Streets had become war zones and mistrust and rumours led to ugly and riotous scenes all across the country. The secular fabric of the country was torn to shreds.

To say that Indian politicians were unprepared would be a mild statement. They did not know what hit them. Freedom for India came at a very high cost in terms of loss of human lives and lifelong trauma for those who lived through it.

Author’s note: This story was first published in 2014 on the Amar Chitra Katha Blog as part of the Independence Day story contest. No longer available online.

Image Source: Pixabay

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