Today India will be celebrating its 62nd republic day and on this republic day given the tradition, we will see the military might of Indian soldiers and Indian Armforces, which would create a great sense of pride in us . We would be also remembering those who sacrificed their lives, their youth and relationships to protect us. Those who fought for this freedom, our beloved freedom fighters. I wish to remember someone too, someone whom I have seen closely, for someone to whom freedom meant a lot. He was my grandfather Raghunath Singh, he fought in an army which is virtually forgotten. He was a soldier in AZAD HIND FAUJ. It was an army which constituted of 40,000 Indian soldiers which were earlier captives of Japanese during world war in Singapore and Burma. Their leader was Netaji Subhash Chander Bose. I remember his words when I asked him in my childhood that why did he fight in the army with Netaji against Britishers. His answer was plainly simple for Freedom and Honour; he died in 2002 at an age of 92 years. In his old age he was a fragile man but it was this persona that he was a freedom fighter which use to fascinate me deeply . I use to go to my ancestral village where he resided along with his 3 brothers. His old age and my childhood did create confusion in understanding his words and narratives of his past but my admiration for him was supreme. He was not my biological grandfather but rather my biological grandfather’s eldest brother (out of the other 3 brothers) and use to be affectionately called “BABA”.
During the war when he was captured most of the individuals in the village had considered him dead, but his return and a heroic one, being a freedom fighter in “Indian National Army” was full of emotional rollercoaster for the entire family. It was more delightful for his wife who had lost all the hopes in life. He had 2 daughters. I never got an idea that why none of the future generations in our family ever enlisted in army. I sensed that they were disillusioned with the job at army considering it very hard and non-rewarding. There by not continuing his legacy. His younger brother was also in army but was not a member of Azad Hind Fauj. The whole existence and actions of Azad Hind Fauj were full of contempt from the British; there was a period of non-recognition of the soldiers as freedom fighters till 1972 since 1947. This apathy from Indian government at that time added to many conspiracy theories about the political elite and British involvement. They were given their dues after 1972, people cite that it was an after effect of 1971 war victory to honour the “first soldiers of National Indian Army”.
I never knew about the whole politics of recognition and de-recognition, for me my grandfather remained a hero who fought for our Independence. I still believe in him and remember him, It was he who first introduced Bhagat Singh to me and told me about his sacrifice. I always thought that the best way to honour his memory would have been if anyone from the family would have joined Indian Armforces, but alas that was not to be. For his courage and sacrifice he would always be remembered and loved by our family.