The freedom fighters played a substantial role in paving the way for India’s liberty from the British. It’s because of their courageous and uncompromising attitude against the enemies, India got independence at 11 pm on August 14, 1947. They dedicated their lives for the cause of Indian Independence. In fact, they are our real heroes. We remember our freedom fighters when the National anthem is played at schools, colleges, sporting events, TV or in radio.
One such underrated fighter is a man, only very few Indians know about. He is a brave person who risked his life to help India fight colonial rule. He is none other than Colonel Nizamuddin. He is the most trusted right-hand man of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, he once took three bullets to save the patriotic leader of Indian National Army (INA) in the forests of Burma (now Myanmar). Seeing his bravery, it was Netaji who honoured him with the title of ‘Colonel’.
THE UNTOLD STORY:
Nizamuddin was earlier referred to as ‘Saifuddin’ which was his name. He was born in Dhakwan (at present: Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh) in 1901. His father Imam Ali used to run a canteen in Rangoon. Saifuddin grew up in his village living with his mother who is a homemaker. Saifuddin’s life was different. So many thoughts ran through his mind.
When he was 20 years, he ran away from home to join the British army. He reached Calcutta (at present: Kolkata) by ship. He was a brave person and didn’t feat about anything that came in his way. While playing his trade in the colonial army, he came to know that a British army officer had ordered white soldiers to let the Indians sepoys die except the donkeys that would carry food for the rest of the force.
Highly irritated by these words, he shot the officer and ran away to Singapore. When he reached the city, it was here Saifuddin changed his name to Nizamuddin and his life changed when he joined the Indian National Army in the presence of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
“We were in the forests when suddenly I saw the barrel of a gun peeping from between the bushes and jumped in front of him (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,” Nizamuddin told The Telegraph in 2016.
Netaji had reached Singapore in 1943 after a secret submarine expedition from Berlin, to take charge of INA. Nizamuddin stumbled upon Netaji, he got along well with Netaji as he went on to become Bose’s trusted assistant. Nizamuddin worked as a driver, carrying the leader in a 12-cylinder car that had been gifted by the Malaya king to Netaji.
Between 1943 and 1944, Nizamuddin fought alongside Netaji against the British Army in the forests of Burma during which Nizamuddin took 3 bullets to save Netaji. Highly impressed by Nizamuddin’s bravery and dedication, Netaji gave him the title of “Colonel”. Nizamuddin was alongside Netaji the next four years as driver and bodyguard. Wherever Netaji travelled, Nizamuddin was always alongside him, be it Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia or Singapore.
Later, the chapter started to take a twist as Netaji Subash Chandra Bose parted ways with INA in the aftermath of Japan’s surrender in August 1945. Nizamuddin married Ajbun Nisha and started working in Rangoon as a driver for a bank where his sons and daughters were born.
Nizamuddin returned to India in 1969 with his family, to start a new chapter in his native village, Dhakwan. He named his village home ‘Hind Bhawan’ and had a Tricolour put on its roof. And he always acknowledged people with “Jai Hind”, the ever so famous tagline of the INA.
As years passed, Nizamuddin continued to live in his village until he drew his last breath on February 6, 2017. He passed away when he was 117. Interestingly, the forgotten freedom fighter hogged the limelight just a year ago when he then believed to be the oldest man alive in the world and his wife was believed to be a 107-year-old wife when she had opened a bank account.