Our freedom was not a gift: President

Tamluk (West Bengal) Jan 18 (IANS) Stating that India's freedom was not a gift given under international pressure but one achieved through years of struggle, President Pranab Mukherjee Friday saluted the freedom fighters from Midnapore district.

Mukherjee unveiled statues of Ajoy Mukherjee, Satish Chandra Samanta and Sushil Kumar Dhara who played crucial roles in India's freedom movement and were instrumental in forming the Tamralipta National Government - a parallel government during the Quit India Movement - here. The area now falls within East Midnapore district.

In 2002, Midnapore district was divided into East Midnapore and West Midnapore districts by West Bengal's Left Front government for administrative reasons.

"We have achieved our freedom through a long struggle. We earned our freedom in return for blood. It was not a gift or given under international pressure," the president said in his address.

He said Midnapore has a long history of contribution towards the freedom movement.

"Midnapore has a long and glorious history. There is history in its every page, a history of sacrifice, of glory and self sacrifice. From Khudiram (Bose - the first martyr of India's independence movement) to Hemchandra Kanungo - the first chemical bomb maker - and Matangini Hazra who in spite of being riddled with bullets did not let the tricolour fall, Midnapore has a very rich tradition and history of freedom fighters," said Mukherjee.

Talking about Ajoy Mukherjee, the fourth chief minister of West Bengal, who hailed from here, the president said he came to power in the most torrid times but with his astute leadership countered all problems.

"His tenure as a chief minister from 1976-71 was marked with a lot of difficulties but he remained unfazed and tackled them accordingly. There were natural calamities, famine and a severe financial crisis, but nothing could deter his determination," said Mukherjee, who had his baptism into politics as a leader of Bangla Congress founded by Ajoy Mukherjee.

He paid rich tributes to Ajoy Mukherjee, Satish Chandra Samanta and Sushil Kumar Dhara, the president said: "Whenever people will pass by these statues, their heads will bow in respect."

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