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Special Content


Issue no 20, 13-19 August 2022

 

Untold Story of Broadcast during Quit India Movement

BOOK EXCERPT

In August 1942, Mahatma Gandhi gave a memorable mantra to the Indians “let every breath of yours give expression to the mantra: Karengey ya Marengey”. Draft instructions for the public for participating in the Quit India Movement were to be made public “only on failure of the contemplated negotiations... were to cover a period of at least three weeks”, said Gandhiji.

But on the contrary, Gandhiji was not given time for negotiations and was hastily arrested. The arrogant British Government once again felt its futility when infinite patience was maintained by Mahatma Gandhi. All National leaders of Congress right upto the Block level were arrested. However many socialist leaders went underground and escaped arrest and, in turn, played a vital role in the Movement.

Then followed a spontaneous mob violence protesting the arrest that took place in Bombay on August 9, 1942. The nation apparently became ‘leaderless’ with mass arrest unleashed by the government. People at large became restless and angry and put their might behind the mantra of Quit India ‘Karengey ya Marengey’. Thousands of processions started coming out on streets encompassing whole of India. It became unruly and ransacked government establishments like telephone lines, police stations, railway stations or post offices. It was actually a reaction to atrocities unleashed by the British police and army against common man and even unarmed protesters.

Have you ever heard of the name of Vithaldas (alias Babubhai) Madhavi Khakhar, a Gujarati aged about 20 years who was the leader of this Mission? Others were Vithaldas Kanthabhai Javeri another Gujarati, aged about 28 years; Nanak Gharchand Motwane a Sindhi aged 40 the owner of Chicago Radio and Telephone Co. Ltd.; Miss Usha Mehta a Gujarati aged 22 years; Chandrakant Babubhai Javeri, another 23 year old Gujarati; Jaganath Raghunath Thakur, a 27 year old Bombay native; and Nariman Abarbad Printer, a 40 year old Parsi, a radio engineer. Printer had an Assistant called Mirza who also got involved

into the project of Clandestine Radio. This is a list of some of the freedom  fighters, though there were many others whose records are not found who shook the Raj from within with their clandestine broadcast. It is understood, funding and functioning of the Clandestine Radio was patronized by Ram Manohar Lohia himself.

H.V.R. Iyenger the then Additional Secretary of British Bombay Government noted that :

“I used to listen to these broadcasts... and have now gone through monitor reports and summaries prepared by Scott.... There is much evidence of Congress socialist philosophy to the broadcast. I have heard from private sources that Ram Manohar Lohia, an underground Congress Socialist, who refused to common cause with Subhas Chandra Base, was the main inspiration of these broadcast and certainly there is internal evidence in support of this. For instance on 20th October the station said “We have learnt bitter lessons of the democracy of the West enslavement of the working class and peasantry’. On the 23rd  it stated “The free India will be of farmers, workers and labourers” again on 27th it repeated: Revolution for freedom is the revolution for the poor. The free India will be of workers and peasants”.

British Government concluded that it was a revolutionary movement of Socialists.

(The above content is an excerpt from the book titled ‘Untold Story of Broadcast During Quit India Movement’ published by Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. The book can be purchased online from publications division website @Rs 145).