MUMBAI : On Tuesday, the industrial town of Palghar observed its 75th annual voluntary bandh which is the Hutatma Diwas (Martyrs' Day) to pay respect to five freedom fighters who laid their lives during the Quit India movement on 14 August,1942. The 5 martyrs were shot dead by the then British police at Hutatma Chowk, located in the heart of the city. To remember their sacrifice, school children led the city by offering floral tributes and prayers. All shops and commercial establishments, including hotels, observed a voluntary bandh in the honour of the martyrs.

At exactly 12.39 hours, the time when the five martyrs-Govind Thakur, Kashinath Pagdare, Ramprasad Tevari, Sukur More and Ramchandra Churi, all aged 17 to 20, were shot by the British police,on August 14, 1942. The Quit India (Do Or Die) call was given by Mahatma Gandhi at the August Kranti Maidan on 9 August, 1942 and the residents of Shirgaon, Dhansar, Tembhode, Alyali, Murbhe, Ucheli, Palmtembhi, Kharekuran, Popurva, Unbhat, Satpati and other surrounding villages took out a morcha to the Palghar Tehsildar's office. The British Police prevented their morcha and ordered them not to proceed ahead, but the five martyrs who were leading the morcha ignored the warnings, and the police fired upon them, leading to their sacrifice,remembers Navnitbhai Shah (92) a former MLA  and one of the  oldest Palghar resident. The spot is now the Hutatma Chowk, which was constructed in 1946 in memory of the martyrs' sacrifice, said Shah.

Since then, the city observes the voluntary bandh,from 0600 hours to 1800 hours,said Ramakant Patil, social activist and journalist.Hospitals, medical stores and dairies are exempted from the bandh, he said. At 12.39 hours, the entire city converges at the HutatmaChowk to offer prayers and floral tributes in the presence of government officials, politicians and the general public, where no speeches are made, he said.

A bloodstained tricolour which the martyrs' carried during the morcha is still kept in the central hall of the Palghar Municipal Council to remember their great sacrifice for India's Independence,said Patil.