Did you know “Where was Gandhi Ji on 15 August 1947?”
“People are dying all around, do you wish to hold a celebration in the midst of this devastation?”
This was Gandhi’s reply to the Chief Minister of Bengal when he asked Gandhi about what
celebrations were in order on the eve of independence. The one man, who was the face of the golden bird called India was sad on the eve of its independence, while the nation rejoiced.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi fasted, on 15th August 1947, against the violent Hindu-Muslim riots that had the captured the nations attention and concern for twelve long months, ever since the British had announced that India would be Partitioned/given Independence. The former was unacceptable to the Father of the nation, yet he had to make peace with fate.
His life had been spent on securing independence for the nation and keeping the multi-faceted
society of India united. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the Muslim League can be blamed for the spark that lit the flame, which went on to consume undivided India. He left the Congress because he felt it was a party that was concerned only about the interests of the Hindus When the riots in Calcutta started, Gandhi walked barefoot, pleading for an end to this senseless bloodshed. At the age of 77 years, the man walked about 116 miles across Bengal, consoling the Hindus who had suffered the brunt of these religious riots. He then headed to Bihar, where it had been the Muslims who had suffered worse. Gandhi was the only figure whom the masses trusted, as he was above petty lines, such as caste, creed or quam.
Inflammatory remarks from senior Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh leaders, such as M. S. Golwalkar and Hindu Mahasabha leaders, like V. D Savarkar, further alienated the two largest communities of the nation and mistrust festered. Gandhi moved to Delhi to help with the inflow of Hindus and Sikhs from West Pakistan. The revenge attacks that could follow on the Muslims who decided to stay back in India gave him a sense of foreboding.
On returning to Calcutta, he set up residence in the Muslim locality of Beliaghata, in a destitute building, seeking the return of sanity to the city of Calcutta. When news came of united celebrations, Gandhi gave a speech in the Rash Bagh Maidan, on how he hoped the unity that had come about was not momentary and should last.
Many would have assumed that on the eve of independence, Gandhi must have sat back and
relaxed on a job well done, he did not stop working. No wonder, he is referred to as the father of the nation in India.