July 26th, 2016
Today we enjoy the benefits of India’s independence cozily ensconced in our homes and debate easily about various issues of topical interest. However, have you thought that those soldiers, who did not care for their lives and fought for the freedom of our country, and those of whom are alive today, are in which condition?
One such example – Sripatji:
We are talking about Shripatji who is a resident of Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh. Now over 90 years of age, Shripatji had come in contact with the revolutionaries before independence. He had also been influenced by the speech given by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in Jhansi long back and joined the Indian National Army. Shripatji did not bother about his life and fought for the freedom of our country. However, the sad truth is that India got independence while he himself became a bonded slave of circumstances to the extent that he has to beg today in order to make a living.
Forced to beg due to the misadventures of his son:
It is not true that the freedom fighter, Shripatji, was impoverished to begin with. He had 7 acres of land in Jhansi and a licensed gun. His life was sailing smoothly, but his luck took a turn for the worse, forcing him to run from pillar to post. Someone who was once a soldier in India’s freedom struggle is today forced to battle with various hardships in his lot.
Shripat’s son Tulasiya became addicted to intoxication and gambling. These two habits ruined the well balanced life of the entire family. Because of being addicted to intoxication and gambling, Tulasiya first sold the seven acres of land. Thereafter, gradually all the other belongings of the family slipped away bit-by-bit. With time, the family got impoverished.
Shripat tried various tactics in the hope of keeping Tulasiya away from intoxication and gambling. However, the son was so deeply into substance abuse that ultimately the entire family had to bear the brunt. Till the time Sripatji could make use of his limbs, he continued working as a labourer in the fields, but when his body also failed him, this soldier of the Indian National Army had no choice but to beg from various quarters.
Wants to serve the country till his last breath:
Sripat asserts that no matter what his condition is, he would like to serve his country till his last breath. He considers himself lucky to have got enrolled in Netaji’s Indian National Army and to fight for the nation.
At present Sripatji lives with his wife in a hut of Hansari. It is not as if of all the soldiers who participated in the freedom struggle, only Sripatji has to face such a predicament at present. There are examples galore that those soldiers who sacrificed their all to serve the nation now have nobody to take care of them.
Another freedom fighter who has to beg to live:
Like Sripatji, Orilal from Bahraich, living currently in Prayagpur, also left the British army in 1942 to join the Indian National Army. During the Second World War Orilal was in-charge of Operation Red Hill in Imphal on behalf of the INA. Now aged 99, Orilal’s body has started giving up. He does receive a pension because he was a freedom fighter. However, the pension is too little to sustain his entire family. Hence, he is also forced to beg.
Orilala had studied till class 5th. Later he got enrolled as a sepoy in the British army in 1939. Along with the British, he had to beat his fellow countrymen off and on. Due to this oppression he was inflicting on his own countrymen, he was breaking within. Finally, in 1942, he left the job in the British army and joined the Indian National Army.
According to Orilal, when India got independence in 1947, he felt that those veteran soldiers who fought for the country would be respected and given due credit. However, unfortunately it seems that even today India is a slave. Earlier he would get a pension of Rs 100. Now he receives Rs 4000 in three years. This is not sufficient to take care of his entire family. Consequently, he has to beg.
Is this the reward we owe to our freedom fighters?
Why is this happening – why are the soldiers of struggle for independence not being take care of by anyone? Nobody is bothered about the hardships they are facing today. They sacrificed all they had for the freedom struggle but the question that begs answer is this – how much happiness do they get in a “free” country in which they are living the lives worse than those of slaves?
Orilal and Sripat are just two freedom fighters whose stories we have covered. We are not aware of many more such veterans of the struggle for independence who are facing similar predicament and forced to beg in every nook and corner of the so called “free India”. Do those brave hearts not deserve even a life of dignity? It would be inappropriate to say that only our government is responsible for enabling those soldiers to attain their place in the free country.
The Logical Indian community appeals to the government to take cognizance of all those freedom fighters who are enrolled in their records and who are now receiving a pittance for their survival. An increase in their pension would go a long way in ensuring that they spend their last days in peace. At the same time, the family members of those soldiers are requested to pitch in their bit towards survival and a life of dignity. Our readers are also urged to take note of such soldiers in their vicinity and highlight their condition so that appropriate measures may be taken to address their just grievances. This is the least we can do to pay homage to their untold sacrifices.