(Munger) : Nearly 75 years after a barrage of bullets from the British
army wiped their feeble defence away, the fight for little-known
martyrs from Tarapur continues from their grave. This time, against
government apathy and indifference.
Sheetal Chamar, Badri Mandal and Basant Dhanuk and their 31 associates
laid down their lives in 1932, professing love for the motherland.
zamin bhi chahiye do gaz kafan ke saath, mar ke bhi hame rehna hai,
khakh-e-watan ke saath (Give us two yards of shroud along with two
yards of land; we want to live with the motherland even after death),"
the bravehearts had said before the bullets fell them.
25, 1984, then chief minister Chandra Shekhar Singh had erected
a memorial the Shahid Smarak in the sleepy town of
Tarapur, 45 km from Munger and 245 km south of Patna in memory of
the freedom fighters. It could be done thanks to the efforts of
influential residents like Nandkumar Singh, Jaymagal Singh, Hitlal
Rajhans, Basuki Nath Roy and Hado Choudhary.
their memories have faded into oblivion. Neither has the act of
defiance found a way into the history books nor has the government
ever celebrated the memorial.
A coat of whitewash
was last applied on it 22 years ago and the fangs of time are slowly
wiping away the names of the martyrs from the plaques.
A blame game
and buck-passing between the residents and the government, however,
have remained consistent.
And the residents
are not amused. Sanjay Prasad Singh, a retired teacher-in-English
from Tarapur, said: "Most memorials go through such government
apathy. Lalu ji had promised the construction of a martyrs' statue
in 2001. But it has turned out to be a mere eyewash."
Sukhdev Mandal (popularly known as Lodhu), the only surviving witness
of the 1932 battle, is bristling with anger. "Almost 100 freedom
fighters had gathered at the police station to protest against imposition
of a Rs 80-lakh community fine on villages. A British superintendent
of police was hit by a gunshot fired by one of the protesters. This
provoked the police to open indiscriminate fire that killed 34 people
and injured over two dozen," reminisced Mandal, who had saved
himself on the day by hiding in a house.
of the dead freedom fighters were blackened in front of the resident
of Tarapur," he said, adding that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru,
on a visit to Tarapur in 1942, had mentioned the sacrifices of the
a local businessman, puts the onus on the common people as well.
"Tarapur citizens have never taken up seriously the memorial
upkeep and renovation as a collective responsibility," Verma
magistrate Shiv Bhushan Thakur told: "The government has a
public fund of Rs 30,000 for raising martyrs' statues, but not for
the maintenance of the memorial.
We are touched by your story. The Shahid Smarak in the town of Tarapur
should be a place of visitor attraction. The memory of those brave
one's always be inspiring to all the Biihari's. I will be thankful
if you could please get us the contact information for Nandkumar
Singh, Jaymagal Singh, Hitlal Rajhans, Basuki Nath Roy and Hado
Choudhary so that we can join hands to make the memorial a pride
of Bihar for generations to get inspired from the bravery and selfless
nature of those Bihari who gave life to get the freedom for the
generations to come.
Dear Santosh, can you please e-mail to us that what improvement,
maitenance is required immidiately, and what is the cost.
Radha and Ramesh Yadav
43611 Greenhills Way
Fremont, CA 94539