Monday, August 19, 2013

INA veteran's wish to own gas pump hits wall

"This will be my last trip to Delhi," he says. K. Ringshi, 96, is one of the last surviving veterans who fought in Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army (INA) against the British during World War II. He remembers fighting alongside Japanese soldiers in the jungles of Manipur. "It was a tough war," he says. Ringshi, a Naga from Bungpa village in Manipur, was in the Capital for the annual reception that is hosted by the President for freedom fighters before the August 15 Independence Day celebrations. A day before meeting President Pranab Mukherjee on August 9, he went to Rajghat because he wanted to see Mahatma Gandhi's memorial. He stood tall and proud and saluted smartly when a jawan guarding the memorial saluted him after hearing Ringshi was part of Bose's Azad Hind Force. Today, however, Ringshi is an unhappy man. "The name and honour bestowed on me will be forgotten the day I am gone. I wish I could leave a memory of the honour for my future generations," he says. With this in mind, he had petitioned then President Pratibha Patil in 2009 for a gas agency as well as a petrol pump in his hometown area. "I had requested for help within the discretionary powers of the President, especially because there is a provision of 2 per cent reservation for Freedom Fighter Category." But despite the exchange of many letters between Ringshi, the President's office and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, nothing has come of it yet. Though he never met Bose, Ringshi served under Lt-Col Shah Nawaz Khan, Bose's close comrade and one of the three defendants in the first of the INA trials in 1946. Recalling how he became a part of the INA, Ringshi says he was captured by the Japanese near the Myanmar border along with three other friends late in 1943. They were taken to a village in Myanmar where the Japanese and INA soldiers were headquartered. Upon learning he knew English and Hindi and because he knew the border area well, an INA officer asked him to join them as a guide, and released his friends. "I was not given any training. I began as a tommy gun and that is how I became a soldier," he says. Ringshi has two sons and six daughters, and 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Sadly, none of his children have a steady employment. "An official of the petroleum ministry sent me a letter saying I should look out for advertisements and apply accordingly. Following up the matter in the normal course is far beyond my capacity," he says. "I am 96, how much longer will I live? I wanted my children to cherish my small contribution to India's fight for Independence." Read more at:

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