The British divided Indians in every possible fashion. As a result back then at public places, like railway stations, one could find separate water tanks for Hindus and Muslims, brazenly called. Hindu Pani and Muslim Pani. Similarly, food and tea stalls also had a Hindu or a Muslim tag.
A Slice Of History
When Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose organised Azad Hind Fauj, he ensured that communal division do not plague the national freedom struggle. Religions of soldiers did not define their commitment to India. Lakshmi Sehgal of the Indian National Army (INA) said, “Hindu, Muslim. Sikh and Christian all felt that they were Indians first, last and always.”
In 1945, after the War was over, soldiers were arrested and brought to India by the British. Trains ferried these soldiers as Prisoners of War. On one such instant, a battalion of INA soldiers onboard a train, under arrest of the British, heard cries of tea vendors at a railway station – Muslim Cha, Hindu Cha (Muslim tea, Hindu tea). The INA soldiers felt agitated. They had not imagined that their country for which they had been waging a war was still divided along religions.
Lakshmi Sehgal recalled, “what a shock to get back to India and hear on our very first railway journey at home, after an absence of six years, the voice of cha (tea) vendors calling out ‘Hindu Cha’ and ‘Muslim Cha’. Such a thing went against the grain of every member of INA.”
The INA officers deplored this communalism and expressed hopelessness. It was when an INA sepoy stood up and told everyone that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had taught us to act instead of witnessing a situation helplessly.
A newspaper reported, “he jumped out of the train and set for both the tea vendors. Heading out his battered mess tin he asked the Hindu cha wallah to pour a cup into it and then turning to the Muslim char wallah, asked him to do likewise. Then turning to both he said: ‘Look here I have mixed your Hindu and Muslim cha and made Jai-Hind Cha (Jai-Hind Tea) out of It.”
Separate water, tea and food for Hindus and Muslims at railway stations was banned a few months later when Asaf Ali took charge of the Railway Ministry in the interim government.
Source: Awaz The Voice