Mumbai: People of Maharashtra, especially Mumbai, had reacted with anger in the wake of the Chinese aggression against India in 1962, coupled with strong anti-communist feelings, old documents released by Raj Bhavan here Tuesday have revealed.
A fortnightly report, of historic significance, was sent by the then officiating state governor chief justice H.K. Chainani to then president S. Radhakrishnan in the immediate aftermath of the India-China war.
Chief Justice Chainani was officiating governor between Oct 7 and Nov 27, 1962 following the demise of governor P. Subbarayan, and had penned the report Nov 1, 1962, the archives released here said.
“The people of Maharashtra have responded whole-heartedly to the call of the prime minister to make a united and determined effort to oust the Chinese aggressor from our northern frontiers. They are fully alive to the obligation imposed upon us to defend our land and our freedom,” said the report to the president.
The then chief minister Y.B. Chavan Oct 27, 1962 had convened an all-party meeting, including communists, prominent industrialists and citizens, where it was decided to form citizens’ committees at the state and city levels and in every Mumbai ward.
The committees were entrusted with collecting funds, keeping the public morale up and, besides co-ordinating activities of various other organisations, ensuring that anti-social elements did not take advantage of the emergency situation.
Two days later, Chavan announced a 36-member citizens’ defence committee for Mumbai with himself as its chairman.
On Oct 29 (Diwali), processions were taken out all over Mumbai and over 100,000 people converged at the historic Girgaum Chowpatty. A public meeting was addressed by the chief minister and leaders of all political parties, barring the communists, the report said.
The popular feeling against the communists was so strong that when P.K. Atre, an editor of a local Marathi paper, was seen by the crowds they became restless and demonstrated against him.
The protest died down only after the chief minister “made a personal appeal to their sense of discipline and assured them that Mr. Atre would not speak at the meeting. The citizens of Bombay (now, Mumbai) expressed their firm determination to resist Chinese aggression and to drive them out from the soil of India”, the report said.
Later in the meeting, the chief minister announced an immediate five-point programme for Bombay people, including raising a Rs.100 million first instalment towards the National Defence Fund (NDF), collection of workers’ wages and employers’ profits of one extra working day per month, blood donation drives, abstention from strikes or lock-outs, increase in production and prevention of hoarding and price rises.
The chief minister read out a pledge on this in Hindi and it was repeated by the entire gathering in perfect discipline. Interestingly, barely a fortnight later Nov 14, 1962, Chavan was inducted into the union cabinet as defence minister after the resignation of V.K. Krishnan Menon.
Similar meetings were held in Poona (now Pune) and other cities, besides demonstrations in other cities, towns and villages, donations started pouring in and large quantities of blood was donated for the Indian soldiers fighting on the war front, the report said.
Various labour unions resolved to abstain from strikes then and some directed their members to donate one day’s wage to the NDF. “All the parties, except a section of the Communists, are now united in a common determination to defend the country and its freedom,” acting governor Chainani said.
He added that the people also welcomed prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s decision to take over the defence portfolio and there was widespread feeling that retired military officers like Gen. K.M. Cariappa and Gen. K.S. Thimayya should be recalled to duty to utilise their knowledge and experience in defending the country.
In view of the critical situation, the government also decided to convene the winter session of state legislature in Mumbai, instead of Nagpur, the state’s second capital, from Nov 19 that year, the report said.
Meanwhile, thousands of Mumbaikars from all walks of life, including students, were ready to offer their services to defend the country.
There was a huge rush at the Apollo Bunder Army Recruitment Centre Oct 29 with long queues, the huge rush saw some wooden gates broken and police summoned to control the restive crowds, the report said.