The word India is derived from Indus, which means Sindhu in Sanskrit. When the Greeks came to India from the northwest 2500 years ago they called it Indos or Hindos. India is also known as Bharat which is a name mentioned in Rigveda. India is different from other countries because of its diversity. Here are manifold languages spoken, various cultures and practiced, many religions professed and numerous festivals celebrated. Three national festivals are observed: Republic Day (26th of January), Independence Day (15th of August) & Gandhi Jayanti (2nd of October). Today is one of these festivals, India’s Independence Day.
As we all know, we had been a colony of the British for about 10 score years (200 years) and it was on 15th of August 1947 when we achieved emancipation from the British colonial regime. During British rule innumerable killings happened, like the most heinous massacre of Jallianwala Bagh in which 379 were killed and 1200 wounded, although it’s not an official figure. Recently a movie was released named Sardar Udham which depicts this horrific massacre. In the protests against the Simon Commission, we lost a veteran and venerable leader, Lala Lajpat Rai, and many more executions happened during the freedom struggle like of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, Shivaram Rajguru, Chandra Shekhar Azad and many more. This is thus not only a day of celebration but many emotions and sentiments are attached to it.
The partition of India gave rise to a new country known as Pakistan. It was accompanied by enormous bloodshed in which about 1 million people died, 10 million migrated across the border, and many lost their neighbours, parents, siblings and friends. Here are some heart-wrenching stories of partition:
“My paternal grandmother had become terminally ill. She was admitted to the Red Cross hospital not too far from the camp. I was separated from my grandmother, as we left for the railway station without her. To this day, I don’t know whether she survived or died in that hospital. No one in our family had the means to find out.”- Sabuha Khan, via the 1947 Partition Archive.
“Amongst us, there were certain people who had lost most of their family. I remember one woman who had two small babies with her. After moving for the third time, some 45 miles, her feet were swollen and she had no proper shoes on either, but she had two babies to carry. After the third day, she could not carry the babies. One day, she left one baby on the roadside because she could only carry one. This happened to many other women & children because they could not walk and their parents were not strong enough to carry them. If you were slow, you were more likely to be killed.”- Mohammed, via the National Archives.
“The berth was literally stuffed with people, and the windows were sealed shut. My baby cousin’s mouth was stuffed with a cloth so that he may not make a sound. Our uncle told us insurgents are sharpening swords on the platform, if we make a sound, they would massacre the entire train.” -Taj Begum, via the 1947 Partition Archive.
Independence Day is celebrated in order to know the sacrifices of nationalist leaders, but there are manifold others who sacrificed everything for this nation. The most prominent freedom fighters in India’s struggle for freedom were MK Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and many others. There have been many books on India’s Freedom Struggle, like The Indian Struggle by Subhash Chandra Bose, India Wins Freedom by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru, etc. There are also movies like Lagaan, The legend of Bhagat Singh, Sardar Udham, Gandhi, etc. This year India is going to celebrate its 76th independence day and we as citizens of this nation should remember things such as our flag was designed by Pingali Venkayya (a freedom fighter), national anthem which was formerly known as “Bharto Bhagyo Bidhata” was composed by Rabindranath Tagore (Noble Prize laureate) and renamed as “Jana Gana Mana” and adopted after three years of independence. I conclude this write-up with the lines of the eminent patriotic poem entitled “Tarana-e-Hind” (1904) written by Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal (RA):
“Saray Jahan Sa Achcha Hindustan Hamara
Hum Bulbulay Hain Is Ke Yeh Gulsitan Hamara”
The writer is a BSc 4th Semester student at Govt Degree College Sogam (Lolab), Kupwara, and can be reached at [email protected]