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ON INDEPENDENCE DAY: Revisiting I’DAY revelry from 70 years ago

Hindustan Times reached out to some of the senior citizens to hear them share their joy and despair of Independence Day.

dehradun Updated: Aug 14, 2017 20:22 IST
Neha Pant
Neha Pant
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,Independence day,senior citizens
Veteran journalist Raj Kanwar, whose family was originally based in Lahore, recalled the turn of events from around the time of Independence.(HT PHOTO)

Dehradun: Its been 70 years since the country became independent from the British rule. For a group of senior citizens of Dehradun, the historic day is etched in their minds and remains fresh even today.

Hindustan Times reached out to some of them for time travel to recollect the trials, tribulations, joy and despair that followed the historic day.

Recollecting memories from the momentous day, social activist Avdhash Kaushal, who was around 10 years old back then, said, “We used to live in Meerut (Uttar Pradesh) at that time and I remember how over 50-60 people had huddled in a small room in our locality to listen to Nehru ji’s (India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru) ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech on the radio.” “Some people said: angrez chale gaye, ab toh rail humari hai, abse koi ticket bhi nahin lagega (now that the British are gone, we wouldn’t have to pay for the rail ticket),” reminisced the Padma Shri awardee while adding how halwa was prepared in all households and sweets like bataashe were distributed to cherish the moment.

Filmologist Dr. R. K. Verma, who was around eight years old, recalled how Dehradun’s iconic Paltan Bazaar was “beautifully lit and decorated” on the intervening night of August 14-15, 1947 to celebrate the country’s Independence. “There was a lot of euphoria and enthusiasm all around. People were bursting firecrackers and embracing each other- shadi-byah ki tarah khushiyan manayi ja rahi thi (people were celebrating as if there was a wedding ceremony),” said Verma, who has also penned a soon-to-be-released book on the history of the freedom struggle in Dehradun.

There were many families which shifted to Dehradun around the Indo-Pakistan Partition. Veteran journalist Raj Kanwar, whose family was originally based in Lahore, recalled the turn of events from around the time of Independence. Kanwar, who was around 16 years old then, said, “We had come with a couple of suitcases for a family function to Jalandhar in June 1947. We had plans to return but had to extend our stay owing to the major unrest in Lahore due to the Partition. We, however, could never go back and eventually settled in Dehradun as my brother was in the army here.” Recalling how the family was in an “unsettled frame of mind” at that time due to the unexpected relocation, Kanwar said, “Locals took out processions under senior Congress leaders Mahavir Tyagi and Khursheed Lal (who were later inducted into PM Jawaharlal Nehru’s government as deputy ministers) while tension prevailed in some pockets of Dehradun around that time.”

First Published: Aug 14, 2017 20:22 IST