March 2013

'This is the Congress radio calling on 42.34 metres'

"This is the Congress radio calling on 42.34 metres from somewhere in India", a historic announcement that fulfilled the long-cherished dreams of freedom fighters in 1942 to run a secret radio.

In the forefront among the band of freedom fighters who realised the dream of having a secret radio were Usha Mehta and Ram Manohar Lohia, both of whose birth anniversaries fall in March - March 25 and March 23 respectively.

When the Second World War broke out, India was declared a belligerent country much against her own wishes. Mahatma Gandhi resented this and the "Quit India" struggle began taking shape in his mind.

Usha Mehta and other freedom fighters were convinced that a transmitter of their own was the most important requirement for the success of the movement to spread its message to the remotest corners of the country.

A technician friend consented to build the transmitter and it was ready by August 13 in 1942.There were other groups of freedom fighters who were working on similar lines and Dr Ram Manohar Lohia tried to coordinate them.

The first announcement was made on the radio on August 14, 1942. The announcement was, "This is the Congress radio calling on 42.34 metres from somewhere in India."

The freedom fighters had their own transmitter, a transmitting station, a recording station and a distinct wavlength of their own.The radio relayed news, speeches, appeals and instructions for the workers.The office of the All India Congress Committee used to supply the news.

The freedom fighters used to shift from place to place to evade the police and successfully operated the radio for three months. The freedom fighters were, however, arrested on November 12, 1942.Usha Mehta was sentenced to four years rigorous imprisonment and sent to the Yerawada Jail. She came out of the jail in 1946 happy and proud that she had carried out Bapu's message of "Do or Die" and for having contributed her mite to the cause of freedom.

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