– Neena Mukherjee
Happy Independence Day!!! It is 18th August today. While the people of India fold their flags ceremoniously after fervently participating in the #HarGharTiranga campaign, Shibnibas, the small nondescript village near Krishnanagar in Nadiya district of West Bengal proudly and happily hoists Tiranga and celebrates the much sought 75th Independence Day.
No, it is not a mistake. Shibnibas village that is adorned with beautiful ancient temples was designated to become part of East Bengal. Sir Cyril Radcliffe and the Boundary Commission had included a large part of the Nadiya district, including Krishnagar, under East Pakistan. Only Nabadwip remained in India. Accordingly, the Muslim League raised the flag of Pakistan in the grounds of Krishnagar District Library on August 14, 1947.
This came as a shock to the residents. There was much discontent and people were not happy with the decision.
The news of discontent reached the British government, who realised that a blunder had been committed in the drawing of borders between the two countries.
The announcement of the border rectification came late on the August 17, 1947. Three subdivisions of Nadia from undivided Bengal – Chuadanga, Kushtia and Meherpur – were awarded to East Pakistan while India was awarded Krishnagar and Ranaghat subdivisions.
Next day, on August 18, the rejoicing residents marched to the Krishnagar Public Library grounds, happily brought down the Pakistan flag and hoisted the Indian Flag the Tiranga.
Anjan Sukul, had heard of this story since his childhood. After all being grand son of a revolutionary he wanted all Bharatvasis to know about this peculiar Independence Day of his town and celebrate the Day. But without a documented proof his story would not have stood ground and vanished into oblivion as a folklore. In early 1990s he began his search for the official confirmation of this piece of history. Finally, he found a Bengali book called ‘Nadiar Swadhinata’ at the Writers’ Building in Kolkata, which clearly mentioned the sequence of the events.
The much needed government sanction was imperative before he could observe Independence Day on August 18 as well as raise the National Flag on that day. It was a mammoth task but Sukul was determined. Finally, Sukul managed to obtain permission from the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, to celebrate and hoist the Tiranga on the 18th August 1998.
Now celebrating Independence Day on the 18th August has become a norm. It is celebrated fervently organising events like boat race, processions and musical performances.
Ranaghat, Malda, Bongaon and Balurghat too were admitted to India following the realignment of the border in 1947 and now these towns also have started celebrating August 18 as the day of their inclusion in Independent India.
Had it not been a concerted effort by Anjan Sukul the place would have never celebrated the Independence Day and remained hidden in anonymity from the page of history of India.