Most of the freedom fighters spoke to at an event organized by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Friday to mark the 71st anniversary of Quit India Movement, were concerned about corruption. Mostly in their 80s and 90s, the freedom fighters also had concerns about price rise, situation of farmers and employment opportunities for youth.

Bichhanda Charan Pradhan, 91, from Odisha, was jailed and his property was confiscated for fighting against the British rule. He compared his feelings at the country attaining Independence in 1947 to a cow getting away from captivity. However, Pradhan said that he was not satisfied with the country's progress. "There is exploitation. Those in positions of power are insensitive. People often have to give money to get their work done," he said.

Mahendra Bajpeyi from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh was a student when the Quit India movement was launched on Aug 9, 1942 and participated in the ‘spontaneous civil disobedience movement which spread all over the country.’ Bajpaeyi, who was later jailed for participating in scavengers strike, said that the leaders of freedom movement had a vision of education, health and employment for all but complains that these have not been realized.    

"A report has said that about 80 percent of population lives on an income of Rs 20 per day. There is no control over price rise. Alongside, there are threats to country's security, left wing extremism and religious intolerance," he said. Devi Prasad Sinha Chaudhary from Jharkhand, who also took part in the Quit India movement, said that the purpose for which Mahatma Gandhi gave a call for Independence has not been fulfilled.

"The dream was of Ram Rajya but it is Ravan Rajya (rule of the demon king). Earlier, the British looted the country, now our own people are looting the resources. It hurts my soul. The prevailing conditions are not those for which we had made sacrifices," he said. Sitaram Sah, another freedom fighter from Jharkhand, said that corruption is widespread and people are not able to fully avail their rights.  

The event is being held at Rashtrapati Bhavan since 2003 to honour freedom fighters and mark the anniversary of Quit India movement.  The All India Congress Committee had adopted a resolution on Aug 8, 1942 in Bombay (now Mumbai) calling on the British to ‘Quit India.’ There was a spontaneous movement next day in response to Mahatma Gandhi's call for immediate independence.


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