Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

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Paying tribute to India’s freedom fighters

Bhawanishankar Atamaram Oza

Mumbai City, Maharashtra

May 22, 2023 to May 22, 2024

Bhawanishankar Atamaram Oza hailed from Saurashtra, India, where he spent his early years before relocating to Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry. He worked at a chemist shop for some time before establishing his own business. Oza's business gradually expanded, and he eventually became the President of the Dawa Bazar or Chemists Association. Alongside his business ventures, Oza also engaged in community service by founding Shree Nathalia Un Sevak Mandal in 1915, which aimed to provide education and community support.

In 1928, Oza collaborated with Dr. Jivraj Mehta to create Babuline Gripe Water, an Indian alternative to Woodwards Gripe Water, responding to Mahatma Gandhi's call for Swadeshi. During the 1930s, Oza became actively involved in various freedom struggle movements. He joined the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and the Bombay Provincial Congress Committee (BPCC), attending meetings and conferences, eventually holding important positions in both organizations. Oza also held memberships in the Congress Working Committee and Praja Mandal and served as President of the 'G' Ward district Congress Committee. Oza faced multiple imprisonments for his active participation in Congress' constructive programs. He was arrested on September 12 under Section 3 of Ordinance I of 1932 for assisting the Boycott Programme, and after being released on November 7, 1932, under Sec. 4(1) of the Bombay Powers Ordinance Act II of 1932, he was restricted to the limits of Bombay City and required to report to the inspector of the Princess Street Police Station. Despite enduring multiple imprisonments, Oza's commitment to the cause of Indian Independence remained steadfast. In 1941, he was arrested under the Defence of India Act, Rule 129(1)(a), and detained at the Nasik Road Central Prison for his involvement in the Civil Disobedience Movement. Following seven months of detention, he was released on November 7, 1941, under Sec. 4(1) of the Bombay Powers Ordinance Act II of 1932. Oza's journey came to a tragic end in 1951 due to an accident, but his descendants continue to carry forward his legacy.

Bhawanishankar Atamaram Oza was a businessman from Saurashtra, India, who relocated to Mumbai and established a successful pharmaceutical business. He actively participated in India's freedom struggle, joining organizations such as the All India Trade Union Congress and the Bombay Provincial Congress Committee. Despite facing multiple imprisonments for his involvement in constructive programs and movements, Oza remained dedicated to the cause of Indian Independence until his untimely demise in 1951.