PRE-INDEPENDENCE CLANDESTINE BROADCAST IN INDIA
|Painting by vu2msy (now 2MUE)|
To listen to a Pre-Independence Amateur Transmitter visit: http://www.clandestineradio.com
As to the Congress Radio Secret Broadcasts, these took place in the latter part of 1942, and a major participant was Ms. Usha Mehta, a Gandhian activist and Indian Independence hero of whom you may have heard. She passed away just last year (2000).
According to an excellent book I found ("Congress Secret Broadcasts and Storming Railway Tracks", a book edited by Symalendu Sengupta and Gautam Chatterjee) an amateur radio operator, Mr. Nariman Abarbad Printer provided the transmitter for Congress Radio. According to court documents quoted in the book, Printer was "an expert in radio engineering and was the Principal of the Bombay Technical Institute, Byculla." Upon returning from England in 1938 he obtained an amateur radio licence, and purchased a transmitter to give training to his students.
On the outbreak of WW II in 1939, his amateur licence was cancelled along with all others, and he was ordered to turn in his transmitter to the colonial authorities. However, he instead dismantled the transmitter and hid the parts.The All India Congress Committee held a meeting in Bombay on 7th and 8th August, 1942. Main Congress leaders including Gandhiji were arrested on 9th August, and news media were ordered not to report anything but official news.
Due to this censorship situation, Congress leaders approached Printer, knowing he was an amateur radio operator, an Indian patriot, and had transmitter parts in his posession. They asked him to make a clandestine transmitter for the Independence movement. Printer eagerly agreed, and after purchasing some missing parts and replacing a microphone, provided a working 40-metre AM transmitter. This was ultimately set up in a rented flat at the top floor of the Sea View Building, Chowpatty, Bombay, and the first broadcast was made on 27 August, 1942. The transmitter was later moved to avoid surveillance from the colonial authorities, and ultimately transmitted from seven different rented flats in the Bombay area. The original power of the transmitter was only 10 watts, but Printer later boosted the power to 100 watts, with equipment obtained from a patriotic radio-parts seller, "Chicago Radio Co." of Bombay. Transmissions were between 6.55 and 7.1 MHz. Mehta usually broadcast the programs, with "Babubhai" (a nom-de-guerre of Vithaldas Madhavi Kharkar) and Printer as relief announcers.
Printer and some other Congress Radio personnel were arrested on 12 November 1942. Under intense interrogation Printer was forced to reveal the location of the clandestine transmitter, and that evening Mehta and another announcer were also arrested at the end of their clandestine broadcast. In their trial (Emperor v. Kkhakar et al., 1943 in a "Special Criminal Court" presided over by a "Special Judge") Printer was freed on a plea-bargain, and the Chicago Radio Co. defendents were acquitted, but Mehta, Khakar and another defendant were convicted and sentenced to "rigorous imprisonment." Mehta (being a slight, 22-year old graduate student) suffered particularly harshly, and ultimately greeted the coming of Independence from her sick-bed as a direct result of the treatment she received in the colonial prison. Interestingly enough, this whole episode seems to have been largely omitted or overlooked in "official" Congress histories. This, even though Congress Radio was a mainline Congress activity, and completely unconnected with either Subhash Chandra Bose and his Japanese-sponsored Indian National Army, or with the so-called National Congress Radio, which was a Nazi operation from Berlin. Note that tapes of actual Congress Radio Broadcasts are available from
(Although the price they are asking is extreme, the quality of the tapes is excellent. There may also exist an Indian source for same, but I'm not sure about that. You may wish to research that yourself.) I received permission from Gandhiserve.com to post a brief sound-bite of Congress Radio on a website with which I work, clandestineradio.com. To listen to this, go to
This Page is maintained by Sandeep Baruah, VU2MUE
I would appreciate more information on the subject!!
Thanks to Owen Williamson, AC5OE for his above contribution.
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