When an Indian raised the Pakistani flag in Paris and turban of a Sikh used to stitch it

Indian scouts attending the World Jamoree in Paris in August, 1947 were sent a tricolour by Krishna Menon from London. But the Pakistani flag had to be stitched from the turban of a Sikh scout

Representative image (social media)
Representative image (social media)
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Prakash Bhandari

“Hum Jab Paris gaye the toh gulam the, aur jab wapas laute to Azaad the” (We went to Paris as second class citizens or slaves of foreign rulers but when we returned, we were free citizens), recalled late sports broadcaster Jasdev Singh to this author a few months before his death.

Jasdev Singh had gone to attend the sixth world jamboree that was held in Paris in 1947 as a boy scout along with 165 boys from undivided India.

Singh, who passed away two years ago, was a popular sports commentator and a recipient of Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. He was also among the very few Indians who received the” Olympic Order” from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for his contribution to sports broadcasting.

The world Jamboree in France in 1947 was called “Jamboree of Peace” because this was held after the end of the Second World War and more than 60,000 scouts from all over the world took part in the jamboree.

The Indian contingent included boys from Karachi and Lahore and the team leader was India’s commissioner of Scout,Mr Thedius from Kerala.

“On July 29, 1947 King George VI hosted a reception for the scoutswho had arrived from various parts of the then British Empire at the Buckingham palace. There were six thousand of us drawn from various countries and we jointly presented a guard of honour to the King and Queen Elizabeth. It was here that the Indian contingent learnt that India will become a free country on August 15, 1947,” Jasdev had recalled.

When an Indian raised the Pakistani flag in Paris and turban of a Sikh used to stitch it

The jamboree was held at Moisson forest, about 50 miles from Paris. This forest was used as a firing range during the Second World War and it was here that 40,000 boys and girls from all over the world had assembled.

Two thousand acres of this forest was used for the camps and around the camp there used to run a miniature railway operated by French Army engineers for the benefit of visitors.

On 15th August, the morning after the night of August 14-15,1947 when Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru had delivered his historic “Tryst With Destiny” speech, members of the undivided Indian contingent assembled to raise the flags.

As undivided India was now divided between India and Pakistan, two different flags were to be raised. A special area was created for the flag hosting ceremony. Krishna Menon, who was then in London and later became India’s first high Commissioner in Britain had sent us a tricolour.

But there was no Pakistani flag. One of the Sikh boys had a green turban and it was used for stitching the green flag of Pakistan

“Three flags were raised; the tricolour of India, the Pakistani flag and the Indian Scout flag. The tricolour which came from London was bigger than the Pakistani flag and looked neat. Dan Mal Mathur,a teacher from Ajmer’s famous Mayo College raised the Pakistani flag and the Indian flag was hoisted by Qureshi Iqbal from Karachi.

When an Indian raised the Pakistani flag in Paris and turban of a Sikh used to stitch it

All the boys sang the anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and ‘Saare Jahan Se Achha Hindustan Hamara’. But no Pakistani national anthem was sung as the national anthem of Pakistan was not written by then.

“We were treated with cakes and pastries and there was a feast and a joyous end to a great celebration on the outskirts of Paris” remembered Ranveer Singh, the progressive writer, who was also a part of the Indian contingent.

The flag hoisting was recorded by the BBC and French Radio and reported by the correspondent of The Guardian of London.

“Squatting in an Indian tent, one talked with a dozen boys – Sikhs, Moslems, Hindus, Parsees, Christians, and Jews – who found no trouble at all in living together with neither blows nor bitter argument.

“What difference,” cried someone at the back of the tent, “should it make to us?” as everyone agreed that the contingent would still participate as one group.

When an Indian raised the Pakistani flag in Paris and turban of a Sikh used to stitch it
When an Indian raised the Pakistani flag in Paris and turban of a Sikh used to stitch it

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Published: 14 Aug 2020, 8:08 PM