Shaheed Diwas calendar released at GOPIO-Manhattan virtual event.
India’s Consul General in New York Randhir Kumar Jaiswal launched India@75, a yearlong celebration commemorating the 75th anniversary of India’s independence at a virtual event marking Shaheed Diwas (martyrs’ day).
At the March 23 event jointly organized with Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), he and Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha, also released the Shaheed Diwas Calendar presented by Siddharth Jain of GOPIO-Manhattan.
The event commemorated the 90th death anniversary of three brave young men — Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, and Shivaram Rajguru— who were hanged to death on March 23, 1931 for fighting for freedom from British rule in India.
Jaiswal described the calendar recognizing contributions of patriots of India as a collector’s delight and dream where one can read about the freedom fighters and their heroic activities.
Recalling the founding of the Ghadar Party by Lala Har Dayal over a century ago, he said, “I humbly bow before their legendary sacrifices, which are inspiring us all.”
Indian freedom leader Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter, Anita Bose Pfaff shared how growing up she saw her father, traveling from Europe to South East Asia, garnering support from Western and Asian nations, creating an Indian National Army (INA) to fight the British.
Describing her father as a Leftist radical, who initially joined the non-violent movement led by Mahatma Gandhi, she said the British made many attempts to assassinate him.
Though Bose died in a plane crash, “there is good reason to call him a martyr, because he died in the process of fighting for freedom,” she said. “India was his sole love, and he was willing to put his life for the freedom of India. It’s justifiable to call him a martyr.”
Lord Rami Ranger, member of the British House of Lords and chairman of Sunmark Group, spoke about the killing of his father Shaheed Sardar Nanak Singh by a mob in Gujranwala, Pakistan, in 1947.
“My father was assassinated at age 42 when I was not even born,” he said, sharing about the circumstances that led to his father’s martyrdom.
Ranger praised Indians, who “are contributing a great deal around the world. We are shaping the destiny of the people of so many nations.”
“India is the most sought-after nation by people from around the world. We must stay united and fight together to preserve our freedom. Learn from history.”
Dr. Maya Chadda, Professor of Political Science, William Paterson University, Wayne, New Jersey and a member of Council of Foreign Relations, spoke about her linguist father, who spent a long time with Gandhi in his Ashram.
“We were a Gandhian family throughout our lives. They were all dreamers, who dreamt of a unified India with freedom. They inspired mass support that led to the freedom movement, with ability to move the nation and win their support,” she said.
Dr. Bhuvan Lall, film producer and author of “The Man India Missed The Most – Subhas Chandra Bose & The Great Indian Genius – Har Dayal,” told the story of Lala Har Dayal, who formed the Ghadar Party in 1913 to organize a rebellion against the British government of India.
Har Dayal gave up his Government of India scholarship to St. John’s College at Oxford and became a supporter of the Indian revolutionary movement in 1907. He moved to the USA in the late 1920s and became a Professor of Sanskrit at the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO International, said the key objectives of GOPIO was “connecting the Diaspora with our motherland and celebrating the major festivals of India.”
Shivender Sofat, President of GOPIO-Manhattan, speaking about the sacrifices of India’s freedom fighters, said, “They all had one goal: freedom for our motherland.
Emcee of the event, Anoop Bhargava spoke about the importance of Martyr’s Day. GOPIO International Coordinator-at-Large Dr. Asha Samant and Prof. Ponisseril Somasundaran from Columbia University shared their personal experiences about the freedom movement.
GOPIO-Manhattan Executive Vice President Prof. Rajasekhar Vangapaty, who was a co-organizer of the program with Shivender Sofat and Siddharth Jain, thanked the participants.
The two hours long celebration included patriotic songs sung live by singers from the USA and Canada.
Photo: Consul General Randhir Kumar Jaiswal releasing the special Shaheed Diwas Calendar produced by GOPIO-Manhattan.
From l to r: DCG Shatrughna Sinha, CG Randhir Kumar Jaiswal and GOPIO-Manhattan Board member Siddharth Jain.