Three years after initiating the process of conferring status of freedom fighter on Colonel Nizamuddin, who claims to be 116-year-old and once a driver-guard of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the Azamgarh administration has finally sent the recommendation to the state government seeking its approval. The administration, however, puts Nizamuddin’s age as “above 100 years”.
Additional District Magistrate Ashutosh Dwivedi said the process to accord the status of freedom fighter to Nizamuddin was started by the then district magistrate in 2013. “Since it has now been confirmed that Nizamuddin had served with the ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ (or Indian National Army) and was a close associate of Bose, we have requested the state government to include his name in the list of freedom fighters,” Dwivedi said.
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Nizamuddin hails from Dhakwa village in Mubarakpur area in Azamgarh. He lives there with his wife Ajbul Nisha and youngest son Sheikh Akram. His two other sons, Akhtar Ali and Anwar Ali, are employed in Saudi Arabia and Bombay, respectively. His two daughters are married.
When contacted, Akram said they had been seeking the freedom fighter status for their father for the past several years, and had to again move an application with the administration in this regard around two months ago.
“I told the district magistrate that except for one document, which stated that my father was a member of Azad Hind Fauj, we don’t have any other papers. An enquiry was conducted where statements of villagers were recorded. Now, I have learnt that the district administration has sent the request to the state government to declare him a freedom fighter,” he said.
Giving an account of his father from the time, Akram said, “My father ran away from Azamgarh in 1942 and joined the British Army in Singapore. For some reason, he left and later joined Azad Hind Fauj. My father was a driver and also the bodyguard of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. In 1944, my father suffered a bullet injury on his back while guarding him (Bose) in the jungles of Burma. It was Netaji who gave my father the name Colonel Nizamuddin. Here in the village, everyone calls him Saifuddin,” the 57-year-old said. The farmer-son said that Nizamuddin and his family “returned to Azamgarh in 1969”.
During an election rally in Varanasi in 2014, Narendra Modi, then the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, had met Nizamuddin and touched his feet.