India celebrates Independence Day on August 15. However, for the people of Dumraon, a small town in the Buxar district of Bihar, the celebrations held on August 16 are equally important as they pay homage to four freedom fighters who were martyred this day in 1942.
Demanding an end to British rule in India, with the call to “Do or Die,” Mahatma Gandhi had delivered his iconic Quit India speech in Mumbai, on August 8th, 1942.
His speech roused an entire nation, and in Buxar, hundreds of people began an agitation and attempted to hoist the tricolour atop buildings controlled by the British government.
The campaign also reached the town of Dumraon, where it succeeded on August 16, 1942.
A chapter in Volume 4 of the book, Indian Revolutionaries, by Shrikrishna Saral, describes the incident.
“A procession of 5,000 people started moving towards the police station at Dumraon in Bihar. There were women and children in it also. A young man called Kapil Muni was carrying the flag…”
The chapter goes on to mention that the police warned the procession to stop, but when the people paid no heed, they shot at Kapil, who dropped dead. Following this three other men who attempted to complete the task were also shot down, but the crowd eventually overpowered the police force and went on to hoist the flag.
Interestingly, Shivji Pathak, the head of the Dumraon Shahid Smarak Samiti, narrates a slightly different version of the story.
Speaking to TNIE, Shivji said, “This daring campaign was led by Kapil Muni, who erected the flag on top of the Dumraon police station. The policemen opened fire, and Muni and four of his associates were killed while seven others were badly injured. Our town has been holding special events since the next year (1943) to commemorate the martyrdom.”
The police station where Muni and his associates—Gopal Kahar, Ramdas Sonar and Ramdas Lohar—were killed, was turned into a memorial a few years after the nation won independence.
This is the reason why Dumraon has Independence Day-like celebrations on August 16, every year. This tradition has also been recognised by the Bihar government, which granted it official status in 2015.
Furthermore, the statues of the four martyrs at the memorial were inaugurated by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in January 2017.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)