The Mahatma* was the first to be arrested.
While the Freedom movement in the country was intensifying, young Usha was clear about the path she wanted to tread on.
The Quit India movement had been officially launched on August 9th, 1942 and within a week over a 100,000 protestors including prominent leaders had either been arrested or gone into hiding.
She knew what she had to do. Time was of the essence.
“Baba*, I cannot continue my studies right now,” she announced calmly to her father, who had been a judge under the British Raj* in the past.
“What do you mean by that?” he asked aghast at his daughter’s decision.
“There are more important things that need attention,” refusing to say anything further, she walked away defiant.
Her father woke up to a ruckus in the house the next morning. Usha was nowhere to be found. As they inquired from family, friends and neighbors, the parent in him grew worried. She was a young girl and an ardent follower of the Mahatma. A fortnight passed with no news and every time there was a knock on the door, he hoped it was Usha.
Usha, in the meantime was busy with other plans. Wasting no time, she connected with Vithalbhai Jhaveri, Babubhai Thakkar and Nanka Motwani, putting her plans into action.
And on August 14th, 1942, within a week of the launch of the Quit India movement, the Secret Congress Radio went on air.
Usha’s voice rang out in the entire nation announcing, “This is the Congress Radio calling on (a wavelength of) 42.34 meters from somewhere in India.”
“Usha, what are we going we do next?” Babubhai asked.
“Babubhai, broadcast the Mahatma’s message tonight. The youth must be awakened and this is the best way. We have had enough of the British. It is time they went back to where they came from,” she enthused.
“And don’t forget, we change location again. These messages must not be traced to a single location,” she reminded firmly.
Babubhai nodded. Thus, began a cat and mouse game between them and the British.
Every time, the British came closer, the freedom fighters with their sharp intellect managed to evade them.
And the voices of the youth are growing stronger by the day, Usha thought as the months passed. It had been three months since Secret Congress Radio had been on air and the surroundings were echoing with the clarion call for freedom. She could feel the change. The air was charged with slogans of “Vande Mataram*!”
That night as she wrapped up, they came out of nowhere. Policemen. There was no place to hide.
She knew that she was caught.
At the headquarters, she realized that she wasn’t the only one. All her associates were caught too. Someone had spoken up amongst them.
Swaraj* is closer to being achieved. That is what we need to remind ourselves. And fight again when we get out of jail. She smiled.
Mahatma – A revered person, in this case stands for Mahatma Gandhi.
Baba – Father
British Raj – British Rule
Vande Mataram – slogan of Indian Independence Struggle
Swaraj – Self – governance or Self-rule
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