Usha Mehta-Indian Freedom Fighter

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Source-This post on Usha Mehta-Indian freedom fighter is based on the article “Ae Watan Mere Watan: The story of Usha Mehta and Congress Radio” published in “The Indian Express” on 22nd March 2024.

Why in the News?

The film “Ae Watan Mere Watan,” centered on the life of Indian freedom fighter Usha Mehta, has recently been released.

About Usha Mehta

Usha Mehta
Source- India Today

1. Birth– Usha Mehta was born in 1920 in the village of Saras, near Surat in Gujarat.

2. Mahatma Gandhi follower– She followed Gandhi’s principles and was often called Ushaben.

3. Role in Indian Freedom struggle:
a. When she was eight years old in 1928, she joined a protest march against the Simon Commission.
b. On August 14, 1942, she and her associates set up the Secret Congress Radio during the Quit India Movement, which began broadcasting on August 27.

4. Awarded Padma Vibhushan– In 1998, the Government of India honored her with the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in the country.

Setting up an underground station

Background– When the World War II began in 1939, the British suspended all amateur radio licenses across their Empire. Operators were required to surrender all equipment to the authorities, facing severe punishment if they didn’t comply.

1. Congress radio station creation– Congress Radio was created during the Quit India Movement to spread the message of Independence, making it one of India’s earliest radio networks. It was used by Gandhiji to promote Independence.

2. OrganisersUsha Mehta, along with Babubhai Khakar, Vithalbhai Jhaveri, and Chandrakant Jhaveri, played vital roles in organizing Congress Radio.

3. End to Congress Radio- To evade detection by the British, they regularly changed transmission locations. The operation was exposed when Nariman Printer was captured; he revealed the location of Congress Radio in exchange for immunity.

4. Congress Radio case:
a. The trial of the five accused— Usha Mehta, Babubhai Khakar, Vithalbhai Jhaveri, Chandrakant Jhaveri, and Nanak Gainchand Motwane (who sold essential equipment to the team)— stirred considerable excitement in Bombay.
b. Vithalbhai and Motwane were cleared of charges, while Mehta, Babubhai, and Chandrakant received harsh sentences.
c. Usha Mehta was freed from Pune’s Yerawada Jail in March 1946 and is celebrated in nationalist media as “Radio-ben“.

Quit India Movement

1. It was also known as the August Movement or Bharat Chodo Andolan, and it was a major act of civil disobedience.

2. It was led by Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress on August 8, 1942, at Gowalia Tank Maidan, also known as August Kranti Maidan, in Bombay.

3. The “Do or Die” slogan given by Mahatma Gandhi at Bombay’s Gowalia Tank Maidan.

UPSC Syllabus- History in news

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