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How Hindustan Times rang in India’s independence in 1947

A verbatim version of the lead story in our August 15, 1947 paper.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2018 13:33 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Independence day,Jawaharlal Nehru,15 August
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru addressing the midnight session of the Constituent Assembly of India on August 15, 1947.(HT Photo)

‘INDIA INDEPENDENT: BRITISH RULE ENDS’.

These five words formed the lead headline of Hindustan Times’s’ front page on August 15, 1947, reporting the greatest event in India’s modern history. The newspaper’s edition on the day of India’s independence reported a range of events--from governors being sworn in to ‘homage to Mahatma Gandhi’.

Reproduced here is a verbatim version of the Hindustan Times’s independence day lead story from 1947:

(By Our Special Representative)

NEW DELHI, Thursday – At midnight tonight the Constituent Assembly consisting of the chosen representatives of the Indian people, assumed sovereign power and the members solemnly took the pledge to serve India and her people. “We end today a period of all fortune and India discovers herself again,” said Pandit Nehru in calling upon the members to take the new pledge.

Earlier the president of the constituent assembly, Dr Rajendra Prasad , said: “To all we give the assurance that it will be our endeavour to end poverty and squalor and it’s companions, hunger and disease to abolish distinctions and exploitation and to ensure decent conditions of living.”

After the assembly had sat for 75 minutes, during which it assumed powers of governance and endorsed the appointment of Lord Mountbatten as Governor-general. Dr Rajendra Prasad and Pt. Nehru proceeded to the Government House to inform Lord Mountbatten of the assembly’s decisions. Later, the National Flag presented to the Assembly by Mrs. Hansa Mehta on behalf of the women of India was hoisted amidst cheers of thousands who had gathered outside the council House

The climax was reached when at the last stroke of midnight there was blowing of conches and spontaneously the cry of “Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai ” went up. That these were the first words uttered by the representatives of Indian people on attaining freedom was an expression of the people’s

gratitude to the architect of the nation to whom both Pandit Nehru and Dr Rajendra Prasad paid glowing tributes in their speeches.

The birth of a free India was witnessed by diplomatic representatives of the nations representing more than half the population of the globe. Ambassadors of the U.S.A and China were there and also High Commissioners of Canada and Australia and diplomatic representatives of other countries.

It was the greatest hour for Delhi. This capital of many mighty empires became today for the first in its history the seat of ‘Lok Raj’, government of the people, by the people and for the people.

The Assembly Hall was full to capacity and appeared most impressive. The National Flag adorned the dozen large panels some of which formerly had life size portraits of British dignitaries. The flags provided the proper background for the momentous meeting. Loudspeakers carried the proceedings to the thousands who had thronged outside.

The visitors inside the hall were certainly in a select gathering, mostly wives of officials resplendent silks and relations of members of the assembly. It was a pity that the man in the street got little chance of seeing the function. Perhaps there was philosophic justice in the ceremony being observed mostly by those who were loyal to the former regime.

The most pleasing part of the function was that among members Khadi dress predominated and that even those ordinarily accustomed to European costume came in ‘achkan’. These included Ambedkar, Mr B. L. Mitter, Mr Panikkar and Mr Zaida. The assembly secretariat officials were all dressed in ‘achcan’ only the deputy secretary, Mr Tayabji wore Pakistani turban. Many welcomed Mr Mavalankar, the president of the defunct Central Assembly who joined the house today. The new Ministers who will be sworn in tomorrow sat to the left of the President.

First Published: Aug 12, 2018 16:38 IST