When Bapu Arrived In The Small Town Of Champaran In 1942
Ishwar Prasad Mishra was super excited. His hero was about to visit this small town. After completing his graduation, Ishwar went abroad to study law in England and then returned after successfully completing his studies with a gold medal. His father had high hopes that he will become a successful barrister and will settle in a big city like Allahabad or Delhi. However, Ishwar was very much influenced by Bapu’s idea of gaining Independence by non-violent means.
He had been closely following the Indian struggle for freedom and had read a lot about the Indian Revolution of 1857, popularly called “Mutiny” by the Goras (Britishers), and had reached the conclusion that, unlike America, it was practically impossible to gain independence in India, only by violent means. Neither was our country getting the funds from any other nation to finance the armaments nor was the Indian populace as united as the Americans to fight the Britishers.
Moreover, the rulers were very alert after the failed attempt of 1857 and the public was afraid, as the huge divisions in India on the lines of region, religion, caste, and wealth had been completely exposed. He hence started reading Gandhiji’s teachings and became an active member of Congress. He marveled as to how a physically weak human being had united the country by his words and actions.
His father had admonished him several times “Don’t do anything against the Government.” he would often say “They don’t have any problems with us, then why should we create problems for them and invite the authorities to come knocking at our door and take action against us. We are not fighters. You have such a bright career. Earn a good living, get married and take care of your family and us. Your mother and I are getting old and don’t have the strength to watch you being taken to the prison.”
Ishwar’s mother would weep and plead for him to leave this madness, but Ishwar would not listen to any of this. His motto was clear “If someone has to set things right, then let that be me.” And today after all these years, his idol was coming to visit his hometown and Ishwar was the person in charge of making this visit a grand success. Ishwar had discussed with his friends and party members and planned all the events to the T.
He was waiting at the railway station, with his companions, for the train to arrive. There was a huge crowd that had gathered outside the station and was eager to get a glimpse of this Kalyugi Avatar of nonviolence. The police were there, but not to control the crowd. Their only concern was that the visit should not lead to violence and no damage should come either to the property or to the Mahatma. They were told very clearly that Mr. M.K. Gandhi was a very popular leader and any injury to him could lead to unrest which would be impossible to control on a national level.
As the train entered the station, the crowd started rushing towards the train. They wanted to welcome their favorite leader with open arms. The train stopped and the door of the coach opened. Gandhiji’s followers were the first ones to disembark, and as Mahatma’s frail figure appeared in the doorway, the crowd went ecstatic and started shouting “Gandhi Ji ki Jai.” People started moving towards Gandhi Ji.
In this process, Ishwar and his companions were being pushed away from the train. The crowd started coming closer and closer to Bapu. They wanted to touch his feet and seek his blessings, just like an idol in a temple. But they forgot that he was a human being and not a non-living statue. In their devotion, they were forgetting that their love was harming their leader. They wanted to lift Gandhiji on their shoulders and the aged freedom fighter was finding it difficult to maintain his balance.
In his predicament, he shouted the name of the person who was responsible for all the arrangements at this place. “ISHWAR. ISHWAR. WHERE ARE YOU?” The crowd didn’t realize that he was falling and thought that he is invoking Ishwar, The Almighty. They started surging closer and closer to him and Gandhiji started feeling suffocated.............. what happens next.
(Excerpts from Chandausi Junction, a book by Shankar Sahay & Preeti Sahay)
The book is now available at Universal Booksellers, Lucknow and other online and offline booksellers.