Did you know, independent Indian's flag flew in Karimganj first time on 17 August?

Did you know, independent Indian

Silchar, August 16

When entire India celebrated Independence from British Rule on August 15, 1947, one important part of Barak Valley was still in Pakistan. Entire Karimganj district, which was part of undivided Sylhet, which went to East Pakistan following a referendum in July that year. Three & half thanas came back to India on August 17, according to historians. 

Sabyasachi Roy, a professor from Karimganj College said that Pakistani flags flew over some parts of Karimganj in those three days. Some sections in that territory celebrated Independence day on August 14 that year while some remained confused until British Government finally announced this as Indian territory on August 17. 

"When partition was planned, British government decided to transfer entire Sylhet (including Karimganj) to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) following a referendum. Many people were not allowed to vote while there were violence in some areas, which affected the process," Roy said. 

Roy who is a researcher and has published a book titled Immigration, Citizenship and Assam, said, "Between 14 and 16 August in 1947, most people in this part were confused whether they are Indians or Pakistanis," he said. 

As per Cyril Radcliffe's "Reports Of International Arbitral Awards", in Sylhet Referendum, a total 239,619 persons voted for joining East Pakistan and 184,041 voted for remaining in Assam. Hence decision of Sylhet being given to East Pakistan taken on the basis of 55,578 votes. 

Silchar MP, Rajdeep Roy recently wrote on twitter, "Historians studying Sylhet Referendum recount how 1,23,155 voters, mostly tea garden workers & largely Hindus, couldn't vote following threats & intimidation from Muslim League. Result: most of Sylhet got transferred to East Pakistan."

How 709 sq miles returned to India in three days? 

Former MLA from Patharkandi and retired professor from Karimganj College, Sukhendu Sekhar Dutta (85) said that It was Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and some important leaders who jumped in and saved this land from going to Pakistan. 

Dutta said that there were slogans, Sylhet Nisi Ganavote, Cachar Nimu Lathir Chote (Sylhet is taken by vote and Cachar will takey by muscles). "Bengali speaking Hindus didn't have a protector and our family was one of thousands who started moving towards an unknown shelter. We've heard that Shyamaprashad Mukherjee and Tripura kingdom played vital role in bringing back Karimganj," he said. 

"I was around 10 years old, when partition happened and it still remains the darkest memory. We suffered due to partition and when we saw Pakistani flags flowing in Karimganj, it was even more painful," he added. 

Former journalist and writer, Binodlal Chakraborty said that even Mahatma Gandhi was not in support of Sylhet Referendum. "In 1938, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose realised that Sylhet is going to suffer if partition takes place. One section of leaders from Assam and the Muslim leaders jointly conspired which caused sufferings to many. But this story doesn't get place in our modern day history of India."

Writer and social activist Manitosh Paul (Ashu) who's father migrated from Sadrakona village of Moulavi Bazaar in East Pakistan said that for many years they did not want to believe that the country was divided and the people staying in other side are citizens of different country. 

"In the Sylhet referendum, there were two symbols, those who supported Karimganj to go to Bangladesh voted on Kural (axe) symbol and who opposed voted on House symbol. There was a saying that we'll cut the house with the axe. The cut was so deep that people for generations are suffering from the pain till today," Paul said. 

Does Karimganj celebrate August 17?

In the present day, only Border Security Force (BSF) observes the day. BSF officials gather in front of Major Chamanlal Shahid Vedi near Bisarjan Ghat in Karimganj on August 17 every year to remember the day.  

"We know what happened in 1947 but we celebrate independence day on 15th only. August 17 is a part of our stories only, we don't celebrate the day anymore," a Karimganj resident said.

Biswa Kalyan Purkayastha

Biswa Kalyan Purkayastha


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