Major Events Pre-1950

Lahore and Alwar: 1947- 48

R C Mody
R C Mody

R C Mody is a postgraduate in Economics and a Certificated Associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers. He studied at Raj Rishi College (Alwar), Agra College (Agra), and Forman Christian College (Lahore). For over 35 years, he worked for the Reserve Bank of India, where he headed several all-India departments, and was also Principal of the Staff College. Now 81 years old, he is busy in social work, reading, writing, and travelling. He lives in New Delhi with his wife.


I was a student at Lahore in early 1947. While large parts of India were suffering from communal violence, starting with the great Calcutta killings of 16 August 1946, Lahore was singularly free from it.

Until, all of a sudden, riots broke out on the morning of 4th March 1947, and soon took a virulent turn. My hostel warden advised us to go home until the situation became normal. 

My hometown Alwar, a Princely State at that time, was some 400 miles away, and a long rail journey to get there was considered unsafe.

My Memories - Dadi and 1942 by Surjit Mansingh


Surjit was brought up in many different places in India, went from Delhi University into the Indian Foreign Service, and subsequently joined her husband in academics, shuttling between India and the United States. Now a semi-retired professor with two grown-up sons, she lives with her Himalayan cat, music, books, and walks in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


My Dadi lived with us for the last years of her life when my parents and I returned from two years in England and were reunited with my three elder siblings. She was, in fact, my father’s bhua (father’s sister) who had adopted him when his own mother died shortly after his birth in 1904, and was known by us as Beji. She had been widowed some time in the 1930s in a bizarre incident of robbers mounting one night to the terrace where she and her husband were sleeping to tear the jewellery off her arms and ears and throw her husband down to the hard street below. This was in the small village of Kallar, about 40 miles from Rawalpindi (in present day Pakistan). I never heard my father speak of that village with any affection, but did listen to him declaim with loathing on its regressive social customs to my historian husband and myself.

Tryst with Destiny by Jawaharal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's Tryst with Destiny speech at the midnight of August 14, 1947 to India's Constituent Assembly (precursor to Parliament).

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.

Gandhi Assassination Backlash in Satara by Arvind Kolhatkar

arvind kolhatkar

Arvind Kolhatkar spent his childhood in Satara, and later studied at Fergusson College, Pune and the University of Pune. After getting his MA in Mathematics, he joined the Indian Revenue Service, served in the Income Tax Department for about 30 years, rose to the rank of Commissioner, and retired voluntarily. He was an Executive Director of the Bombay Stock Exchange for 3 years. He and his wife Aruna currently live in Toronto. His email address is

Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi on January 30, 1948. Godse was a Maharashtrian Brahmin, like my family.

Soon, a mass anti-Brahmin madness engulfed many parts of Maharashtra, particularly the districts south of and including Pune. Perhaps this anger was the culmination of decades of tension between the Brahmins and other castes. In any case, angry mobs pillaged, burnt and looted the homes of hundreds of innocent Brahmin families, and many people were killed. All on the baseless assumption that all Brahmins were complicit in the assassination of the Father of the Nation.

I want to illustrate this well-recorded history by describing how my family suffered.

Forced to leave Okara, Pakistan (Part 1)

Anand Sarup
Anand Sarup

Born in Lahore on 5th January, 1930, to Savitri Devi and Shanti Sarup and brought up in an open environment, without any mental conditioning by a denominational commitment. He imbibed a deep commitment to democracy and freedom because his family participated actively in the freedom struggle. In 1947, together with his family, he went through the trauma of losing all, and then participating in rebuilding a new status and identity. He Joined the IAS in 1954 and retired in 1988 as Education Secretary, Government of India. Later, he became Chairman, National Book Trust. Also co-authored, with Sulabha Brahme, Planning for the Millions.

Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a three-part story. Part 2 describes the the family’s move to India, while Part 3 is the story of their rehabilitation in Ludhiana.

I do not know the date. One evening in early 1947, when our family went up to the roof, we found the sky lighted with a huge fire in the direction of the walled city of Lahore.

Next morning, the news that one of the oldest settlement of Hindus (inside the Shah Aalami Gate) had been set on fire was circulating in the city.

Independence Day 1947, Delhi

R C Mody
R C Mody

R C Mody is a postgraduate in Economics and a Certificated Associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers. He studied at Raj Rishi College (Alwar), Agra College (Agra), and Forman Christian College (Lahore). For over 35 years, he worked for the Reserve Bank of India, where he headed several all-India departments, and was also Principal of the Staff College. Now 82 years old, he is busy in social work, reading, writing, and travelling. He lives in New Delhi with his wife. His email address is

India would be independent one day. This was the fond hope, in fact a dream, with which most Indians of my generation grew up. But this dream kept on eluding us.

Every time freedom appeared to be close in the 1930s and early 1940s, there would be a setback, with the British throwing back the leaders of the Independence movement back into jail. And then for long, nothing would be heard about it. The cynics would say, “The British will never leave India.”

When World War II ended in 1945, it seemed that the British had finally decided to leave. There was only one lone protestor in Britain, Winston Churchill, who was ignored by the new British Government formed at the end of the war.

Air Force Officer's Memories of Pre-Partition Pakistan

H Dihingia

Editor's note: This article is reproduced from Sainik Samachar, Vol. 48, No. 19, 1-15 October 2001. If you have any information about the author or his family, please contact us at

I was in the Royal Indian Air Force station, Kohat in 1945, situated 70 km southwest of Peshawar and 90 km east of erstwhile Indo-Afghanistan border. During my stay in Kohat, my visit to the nearby tribal territory was a unique experience.

The tribal territory spread over in an area of about 400sq km was 20 km from our unit and a part of North West Frontier Province touching the Afghanistan border. Although it belonged to the Britishers, the latter had no administrative control on the territory and the tribal territory was like a no man's land within the British Empire.

The British government followed a conciliatory policy towards the tribal people but the latter did not reciprocate the same. They used to kidnap and kill the British subjects especially military personnel. So, in retaliation, the British aeroplanes dropped heavy bombs on the tribal territory from time to time for several years killing many tribal people and destroying their houses. That practice was stopped in 1945 at the intervention of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru when he was nominated as a member of the interim government formed at the Centre.

First Republic Day in Delhi and First President of India

Fauji Akhbar
Glimpses of the First Republic Day Celebrations and India's First President
Editor’s note. This article first appeared in Fauji Akhbar (now renamed Sainik Samachar) February 4, 1950. It was posted as

Unforgettable scenes of enthusiasm and rejoicing marked the beginning of a new era in Indian History when the Republic of India was born with the swearing in of Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the as the first President.

At the most solemn ceremony, held in the brilliantly lit and high domes of Durbar Hall at Government House, India was declared a Sovereign Democratic Republic exactly at eighteen minutes past ten on the morning of Thursday, January 26, 1950. Six minutes later, Dr. Rajendra Prasad sworn in as the President.

The birth of Indian Republic and the installation of its first President were announced by a salute of 31 guns shortly after 10-30 a.m.

The simple and yet grand ceremony of the Durbar Hall, the excitement of hundreds of thousands of people lining the five-mile route through which the President drove in state and the spectacularly colourful parade at Irwin Stadium, where the President hoisted the Union Flag and took the salute, will remain in the peoples' memory for long.

First Republic Day in Calcutta

C V Krishnamurthi
Editor’s note: This article is taken from the website of India’s Press Information Bureau, published in 2000. The author is identified as C.V. Krishnamurthi, Senior Journalist, Bangalore.

Ethereal sense lasts longer only because it is an image of experience. It is an Upanishadic thought. Such a thought flows from living with an objective reality in mind as the great Kanchi Sankaracharya had once explained in a discourse.

The Republic Day in 1950, to me is an image of this. It was a transformation from ‘His Majesty’ to a Republican majesty.

Calcutta, the city of palaces, was my habitat at that time. I was a stringer of Hindustan Standard which closed down three decades ago. A short critique in this paper dwelling on a flash back of the memorable Lahore resolution affirming Republic Day on 26th of January reminds me now after over 50 years of the reality of the growth of the Indian Defence Services. I became nonetheless emotional. The All India Radio gave the commentary and the commentator was none other than Melville de' Mello, the celebrated broadcaster of the bygone era.

Memories of the Forties

M. Azizul Jalil
M. Azizul Jalil

M. Azizul Jalil was the Convener of the Dhaka University Sanskriti Samsad in February 1951 and became its first student-President in 1952. He is a former civil servant and a retired member of the World Bank staff.

Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared at

It is reproduced from there without any changes.

On August 9, 1947, amidst gunfire, burning houses and shops, we left our house on Lower Range in Park Circus in a government Weapons' Carrier with two armed guards for the Sealdah Railway station in Calcutta.


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