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Sunday, January 12, 2014

They Died for the Flag; The Flag Martyrs

 They Died for the Flag; The Flag Martyrs
When Mahatma Gandhi was arrested on 4 January 1932 by the orders of Lord Wellington, the then British Viceroy of India, a protest march was organised in Tirupur, on 10 January. Tirupur Kumaran a young millhand of Madras was leading the procession, holding the Swaraj flag in his hand, when police attacked Kumaran brutally. He exhibited an exemplary act of defiance against the police violence by holding the Swaraj flag up and kept chanting ‘Vande Mataram’. Next day, 11 January 1932, he breathed his last. He is known as ‘Kodi Kaatha Kumaran’—Kumaran who protected the flag.
 Kodi Kaatha Kumaran’—Kumaran who protected the flag
‘Kumaran’s hand holding the flag’, postmark from Tirupur issued on 15 August 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Independence

The Tirupur Kumaran Memorial at Tirupur,  Tamil Nadu.

 Quit India movement of 1942  
Mahatma Gandhi gave the historic ‘Quit India’ call at the AICC session in Bombay (Mumbai). Here is the mantra, said Mahatma Gandhi ‘a short one that I give you. You may imprint it on your hearts and let every breath of yours give expression to it. The mantra is “Do or Die”. We shall either free India or die in the attempt. We shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery’.

The Quit India movement of 1942 brought forth a host of volunteers and martyrs who performed great deeds of courage, heroism and sacrifice. The Purna Swaraj flag was declared outlawed but volunteers appeared all over the country and defied the order.

 On 11August1942, the city of Patna witnessed a memorable but heart-rending scene that saw seven brave young students die and several others seriously injured by the bullets of the police in the campus of the old Patna Secretariat. These boys were raising anti-British slogans and were determined to hoist the Purna Swaraj flag on top of the Secretariat building.

Sahid Smarak, Patna
 The bronze sculpture by Debi Prasad Roy Choudhury depicts the seven students who lost their lives while attempting to hoist the flag atop old Patna Secretariat building.
The seven students, whose names are engraved on the Martyrs’ Memorial in Patna were:
Umakant Prasad Sinha –         Ram Mohan Roy Seminary, class IX
Ramanand Singh –                  Ram Mohan Roy Seminary, class IX
Satish Prasad Jha –                 Patna Collegiate School, class X
Jalpati Kumar –                      Bihar National College, 2nd year
Devipada Choudhry –             Miller High English School, class IX
Rajendra Singh –                    Patna High English School, Matriculation class
Ramgovind Singh –                Punpun High English School, Matriculation class

While, Ramkrishna Singh (1923-1984), then a third year student of Patna Collage was arrested and imprisoned for thirteen months.

On 20 September 1942, Kanaklata Barua, at Gohpur in Assam, a young girl then, led a procession of unarmed villagers waving Purna Swaraj flags to the nearby police station.  As soon as Kanaklata unfurled the flag at the police station she and her companion Mukunda Kakati were gunned down by the Police. On the same day at Dhekiajuli police station eleven villagers were gunned down by the Police while trying to hoist the Purna Swaraj flag - three of them were teen-aged girls - Tileswari, Numali and Khahuli. Kanaklata Barua has not yet been postally recognised by India Post.
The best account of a rebel 'National Government' was from Tamluk sub-division of East Midnapore district in West Bengal.

 A statue now stands at the spot where she was killed in Tamluk, East Medinipur.
And a Memorial Pillar adjacent to Matangini Statue at Tamluk 
 Matangini leading the procession, statue at Nandkumar, East Medinipur.
Matangini Hazra  affectionately called as ‘Gandhi-buri’ (literally an old female version of Gandhi), at the age of 73 (seventy-three) she joined the Quit India movement. On 29 September1942, while she was leading a procession at Tamluk in Midnapore, with the Purna Swaraj flag in her hands, a shower of bullets from the police felled her. While dying, she had held the flag high and had collapsed only when she had passed the flag onto the next marcher; the flag had remained unsullied.

Swadhina Chakla at Eram, Odisha
   The ‘Quit India’ had led to the formation of `Swadhina Chaklaor Swadhin Anchala’ (independent area) at Eram-Basudevpur in Odisha. The stimulated poetry of Banchhanidhi Mohanty had inspired thousands to participate in this movement. People of nearby villages were assembled at Eram after they declared themselves as part of a `swadhina chakla’ under the leadership of freedom fighters Kamalaprasad Kar, Gouranga Chandra Mohanty, Aniruddha Mohanty and Shyamsundar Panigrahi.  On the evening of the fateful day, September 28, 1942, these satyagrahis gathered at the Eram market place for a meeting defying the prohibitive orders of the police. Twenty nine satyagrahis, including one woman Pari Bewa by name, laid down their lives and many more were injured when police opened fire on the group of agitators demonstrating for ‘swaraj’.  

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