As the nation approaches its 72nd Independence Day, We bring you here the stories of forgotten heroes of Indian Independence those were lost somewhere among the pages of history.
It took him 70 years to get the status of the freedom fighter, The man who drove Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, finally, the Azamgarh administration had sent the recommendation to the state government seeking the approval. He was exceptional because he spent more time than anyone else with the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. One such unacknowledged hero was a man few Indians know about, a man who lived a life of intrigue and danger to help his Nation fight against the British rule.
This man was Colonel Nizamuddin, A trusted aide of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and once he took three bullets to save the charismatic leader of INA in the deep forests of Burma. And it was Netaji himself who gave him the title of ‘Colonel’.
Nizamuddin, whose given name was Saifuddin, He was born in the village Dhakwan (In Azamgarh District of Uttar Pradesh) in 1902. His father Imam Ali was used to run a canteen in Rangoon, Burma, While he grew up with his mother in her village.
In his early 20’s, Saifuddin ran away from his home and joined the British Army. While serving in the British colonial army, he observed that a Brtish Army officer asking white soldiers to let Indian sepoys die but to save donkeys to carry food for the rest of the force.
Infuriated by the discrimination and injustice, he shot the officer and ran away to Singapore. And it was here that Saifuddin changed his name and became Nizamuddin and joined the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army) in the presence of Netaji.
When after the secret submarine journey from Berlin, Netaji had finally reached Singapore in the year 1943 to take command of Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) and begin the most important chapter of his life.
And then Nizamuddin went on to become Netaji’s trusted aide and worked as a driver, ferrying his leader in a 12-cylinder car which was gifted by the king of the Malaya to Netaji. During the years 1943 and 1944, Nizamuddin also fought alongside Netaji against the British Raj in the forests of Burma.
While talking to Telegraph Nizamuddin said: “We were in the forests when suddenly I saw the barrel of a gun peeping from between the bushes and jumped in front of Netaji… I fell unconscious after taking three bullets… I saw Netaji standing beside me after I regained consciousness… Captain Lakshmi Sehgal had removed the bullets from my body… That was in 1943.”
Netaji was so impressed by his dedication and enormous courage and He gave him a moniker of “Colonel”. For the next four year, he was with Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, be it Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam or Singapore, he remained with him wherever Netaji went.
After the unconditional surrender of Japan, Netaji disbanded the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj), then Nizamuddin married to Ajbun and began working in Rangoon as a driver for a bank and there his sons and daughters were born.
In 1969, Nizamuddin returned to India with his family and settled in his native village. Very Interestingly he named, his home in the village as ‘Hind Bhawan’ and he put a Tricolour on its roof. He always greeted people with the word “Jai Hind” throughout his life, which was an iconic cry of the Indian National Army— As they say…Old habits die hard!
Nizamuddin continued to live at Dhakwan village till his last breath on February 6, 2017. He was 117 years old. He made the headlines just a year back when Nizamuddin and his 107-year-old wife opened a bank account.