Supriya Cherian was a college student in Calcutta on Independence Day. She said, “On the 14th, we heard that the 15th was going to be a direct action day. Mr Surrawady was the CM and no one knew what was going to happen. Earlier, in our hostel, we had practiced flag hoisting and decided we would sing. But since it was a holiday, most of the girls went home. The staff went home too. In fact on the 14th morning I saw one grown up Hindu man hitting a 17 year old Muslim boy with a bamboo stick. I sad what is this? Then we heard that Hindus and Muslims are killing each other…There was a Muslim doctor who gave shelter to Hindus, and he was so famous and so good that one Hindu man was sick and all the other people were telling him Dr Khan, don’t go, they will kill you. But he said, ‘no, they won’t kill me’, and he went to help. They killed him.
In my school: it was a Christian school, and we had all Muslim peons. It was a Hindu area. The sisters hid the peons under the altar. So when the Hindus came asking for them, the sisters said they are all gone. By nine o’clock we saw lorries full of Muslims or Hindus and they were taken to different places. We saw lorries full of people crying, bleeding. We were wondering what was happened.
Then on the 15th was Independence Day, but we didn’t have all this flag hoisting. We all volunteered to go to different hospitals to help the wounded and the boys took out a peace procession and asked Hindus and Muslims not to fight each other because they were all brothers. At that time someone threw a bomb and it fell at my husband’s feet (also a fellow student at the time). But it didn’t burst. When we heard about the killing we also went out with the boys and the police shot at us. One boy was killed. I forget his name. The boys told the girls, you all go back, don’t carry on with the procession.
That is all we did. It was a sad independence day for us. In my room one girl said that Independence day is today, and today we are killing each other. So what will happen when we are independent? There was no radio in the hostel, we didn’t hear the speech (Nehru’s). There was no flag hoisting. We couldn’t because all this killing was going on.”
Courtesy: Aysha Rau, daughter of Supriya Cherian