PATNA: While the nation celebrates Independence Day with patriotic fervour and optimism on August 15, a town in Bihar has celebrations for two consecutive days - August 15 and 16 - every year.
For the people of Dumraon in the eastern Buxar district, the celebrations on August 16 hold almost as much interest and passion as those organised on August 15. It is the people’s special way of paying homage to four freedom-fighters who were martyred and seven others who were injured in a police firing on August 16, 1942.
Immediately after Mahatma Gandhi delivered his famous ‘Do or die’ appeal in his Quit India speech in Mumbai on August 8, 1942, hundreds of youth in Buxar tried to put up the tricolour at buildings controlled by the colonial British government. Such a campaign at the police station at Dumraon succeeded on August 16, 1942, but resulted in a brutal crackdown by the cops.
“This daring campaign was led by Kapil Muni, who erected the flag on top of the Dumraon police station. The policemen opened fire, and Muni and four of his associates were killed while seven others were badly injured. Our town has been holding special events since the next year (1943) to commemorate the martyrdom,” said Shivji Pathak, head of the Dumraon Shahid Smarak Samiti.
The police station where the four freedom-fighters – Kapil Muni, Gopal Kahar, Ramdas Sonar and Ramdas Lohar – were killed was turned into a memorial a few years after the nation won Independence. Recognising the Independence Day-like celebrations organised in the town for decades on August 16, the Bihar government granted the celebrations official status in 2015. The statues of the four martyrs at the memorial were inaugurated by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in January last.
“We observe Independence Day on August 15 every year in Dumraon, but the celebrations are incomplete without the several events organised the following day in memory of the supreme sacrifice of our town’s youth in 1942,” said Sanjay Kumar Chandravanshi, one of the functionaries of the Dumraon Shahid Smarak Samiti.