21 October, 2020

Heroes In Search Of A Plaque

They were part of the Indian National Army, fighting for Independence. Today, they are nobodies.

Narendra Bisht
Heroes In Search Of A Plaque
Nearly 60 years after the Indian National Army (INA) was disbanded, all that Lakshmi Indira Panda has to show for her role in the freedom struggle are a few torn pamphlets in Oriya which depict her wielding a .303 rifle. Today, living in the shadows of Jeypur in Orissa's Koraput district, Panda ekes out a living as a domestic servant washing utensils from house to house. Surviving on a measly pension of Rs 700 a month granted by the state government, Panda has fought a lonely battle with the government of India seeking recognition as someone who served in Subhash Chandra Bose's INA. If the government grants her her due, then she will be entitled to a pension of about Rs 8,000 and a tamba patra (copper plaque) recognising her role in the Independence struggle.

Ironically, Panda's name is included in a register of personnel who served in the Rani Jhansi Regiment of the INA. This list was prepared by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) and approved by the Union cabinet in 1984. Also included in it...


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