Major Events Pre-1950
Dr. Manohar Lal Kapur lives in Virginia, USA. He grew up in Bannu, which became part of Pakistan in August 1947. He was 11 years old in April 1948 when he flew from Bannu in a small plane, operated by the Indian government with help from the Pakistan government, to Ambala in India. His parents followed him later. Manohar's father was a gold jeweler in Bannu. His business was getting affected as Hindus and-Sikhs started to leave due to uncertainty about what the rulers of Pakistan would do. His family liked Bannu but realized that their business in Bannu will decline drastically as their customers will not be there for too long. They had to leave behind their gold jewelry assets as the Government planes did not allow them much to carry much.
The Quit India Movement of 1942 had, somehow, an immediate impact and response from my older brothers, Vishnu Chandra and Jagdish Chandra. Vishnu was the oldest. At that time, they were quite young. They were studying in seventh and fifth standards at Ganeshrai Inter College in Jaunpur in UP.
As part of the Quit India struggle, they were asked to go, along with other boys, and hoist the tri-color flag on the roof of their school. Full of zeal, the boys hurried up to the roof with policemen downstairs. That did not stop the boys. They managed to hoist the flag atop a quickly fixed mast for that purpose.
The incident is captured vividly in this story in Hindi.
Rain drops had begun to wet the clothes of the teenage school boys who rushed to the roof of the college. Vijay, the youngest boy, was holding the tri-color flag, which was a symbol and pride of India's freedom struggle. He hurried up the staircase, followed by others who enthused him to hold the flag. In a few moments, the other boys helped the youngest to tie the flag with strings atop the mast. They ran down stairs, and then started running back to home with their back-packs. The policemen followed them slowly, waving their lathis, more to show their action rather than hurt the boys.
While running home, Vishnu and Jagdish somehow managed to snap and cut off the signal wires of nearby Railway Station, and carried them home. They told the whole story of their bravery of hoisting the national flag to their mother while they were still gasping and huffing from the run.
Their grandfather, who lived with the family, was an assistant to an English magistrate. He was upset and angry over their conduct. He snatched the wires, and dumped them in the well nearby, muttering to himself 'God save me now. These boys have put my job to risk by their action'.
© I C Srivastava. Published January 2020
Editor's note: Dilip reached out to his uncle, Sunder, to write this story. It is based upon a loose compilation of the memories that emerged in their recent telephone conversations and some notes and photographs that Sunder was able to provide.
I was eight years old, on 15 August 1947, India's independence day. My family had an invitation to the flag-changing ceremony, where Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy of India and the uncle of Prince Philip, the current Duke of Edinburgh, lowered the Union Jack and Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, raised the Indian flag in its place. We got this prized invitation because my father was an executive in a British company.