Puducherry and its Independence Days'

Puducherry will celebrate its second Independence Day (De Jure Day) on Thursday, August 16, too.

Puducherry: Puducherry, the French Riviera of India is unique in several ways - the Union Territory has two Independence Days to celebrate. While the rest of India celebrated Independence Day on August 15, 1947, Pondicherry, as it was formerly known, remained a French colony.

Fifteen years after India gained independence, this small French colony was liberated on August 16, 1962 when Pondicherry was officially merged with the Indian Union.

Thus the union territory celebrates Independence Day on both August 15 and 16. Puducherry will celebrate its second Independence Day (De Jure Day) on Thursday, August 16, too.

The French Indhiya Puducherry Pradesa Viduthalaikala Makkal Nala Narpani Iyakkam, a political party has been protesting, demanding the celebration of De Jure Day for years. Finally, government recognised the day and decided to celebrate Independence Day and Liberation Day on August 16 and November 1 respectively.

Freedom from yoke
The people of the union territory of Puducherry won freedom from the foreign yoke only after seven more years of struggle after India became free on August 15, 1947. Unlike many other states in India, people of the UT had to launch a separate movement to replace the French flag with the national tri-colour. The Indian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru continued to press for the unification of Puducherry.

India signed an agreement with France in June 1948 which gave power to people to determine the political status of their land.

Later, municipal elections in Pondicherry, Karaikal and Yanam were held in October 1948 . All municipalities except for one, elected representatives of the French India Socialist Party, a pro-French group. The new councillors, at a meeting, accepted the autonomy offered by the French Government. Later on March 18, 1954, members of the executive council, mayors of Pondicherry and seven adjoining communes proclaimed their decision to merge with India without a referendum.

All communes in Karaikal also followed suit after which the referendum conducted by the French administration in the border village of Kizhur near here, to ascertain the wish of the people. On 18 October, 1954, the municipal councillors and members of the Assembly gave their verdict in favour of merger with India.

The agreement for the de facto transfer of the four remaining French settlements to India was signed on October 21, 1954 and came into effect on November 1, 1954. A treaty was entered into between France and India, establishing the cession by the French Republic to the Indian Union of the French establishments of Pondicherry, Karikal, Mahe and Yanam.

The treaty was signed by the then French Ambassador Stanislas Ostrorog and the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who was also Union Minister for External Affairs..

Though government came forward to liberate the Union Territory on 1 November it was on August 16, 1962 that India and France exchanged the instruments of ratification under which France ceded to India, full sovereignty of the territories it held.

The French government passed legislation in Parliament ratifying the Treaty of Cession and Puducherry became De Jure free on August 16, 1962.

Struggles to celebrate the historic day
The French Indhiya Puducherry Pradesa Viduthalaikala Makkal Nala Narpani Iyakkam, an organisation that espouses the causes of people who opted for Indian citizenship over French at the time of the merger, struggled for more than 12 years to ensure that the historic day is celebrated. It conducted hunger strikes and rallies on August 16, urging government to celebrate the day. However, there were differences of opinion on celebrating August 16 as Independence Day when freedom fighters, activists and others stress that November 1 should be made as Puducherry Independence Day, marking the de facto transfer made through a treaty of cessation between the French and Indian governments on November 1, 1954. Government decided to recognise November 1 as Liberation Day and organise celebrations on the lines of Independence Day and Republic Day.

“Following the request from freedom fighters, the administration appointed a committee chaired by Judge David Anusamy and based on the recommendations, the Chief Minister declared November 1 as Liberation Day in 2014. We are conducting large scale celebrations to mark the day,” said a senior official of the administration.

Some historians feel that the territorial administration is arranging very few programmes to recall the spirit of those times.

“The De Jure transfer is a historically important event as it marked the attainment of liberation without bloodshed. But consecutive governments in the Union Territory show no interest in celebrating the historical importance of the day. Other than announcing a local holiday, no specific programs are conducted,” says a historian.

“A monument is erected at Kizhur, a small village near Ariyur to mark the historic day. But the place and the monument is in a state of utter dilapidation. Puducherry has already lost many important documents and photographs due to negligence,” say historian.

Independence Day celebrations, 2018
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy unfurled the tri-colour at the Indira Gandhi sports complex at Uppalam here and inspected a guard of honour presented by the Puducherry armed police on the occasion of the 72nd Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday here.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said that his government was committed to introduce welfare schemes in the coming days despite obstacles. “It is really challenging to get funds from the Centre, but government is committed to work for the welfare of people,” he said. Claiming that law and order in the Union Territory is well maintained, Mr Narayanan said that steps were being taken to prevent cyber crimes against women and children. He also said that the number of tourists coming to Puducherry has increased by 9.5 per cent this year when compared to last year. Tourism development schemes worth over Rs 150 crore are being implemented. Rs 66 crore and Rs 41 crore were allocated for ‘Heritage Tourism’ and ‘Spiritual Tourism,’ respectively under the Swadeshi Darshan scheme. “Air service from Puducherry to Hyderabad and Bengaluru has commenced,” he added.

Mr Narayanasamy also presented the President's police medal for distinguished service to Deputy Inspector General of Police V J Chandran and for meritorious service to R Narayanane, Sub-Inspector of police and service medals to others.

Later in the evening, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy participated in the Independence Day celebrations organised at Raj Nivas along with spaker V Vaithilingam, minister M Kandasamy, legislators and other senior officials of the administration. Leader of the opposition N Ramaswamy also participated in the event.Sharing the pictures of the guests, the Lt Governor said that her office and residence is also home for all. “I am only one of the residents in it. Thank you all for coming and adding energy to it,” said Ms Bedi.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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