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Without language barriers, we were all one, recalls INA veteran | India News

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As India celebrated the 125th birthday of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, far away in Malaysia, KR Somasundram wistfully recalled how at age 14 he convinced INA officials that he was ready, fit and 16 years old, the minimum age. required. to join the Azad Hind Fauj.
“Possibly my behavior misled them, or my enthusiasm convinced them,” laughs Somasundaram, now 90, president of the Malaysian plantation workers’ cooperative, National Land Finance Cooperative Society Limited (NLFCS).
Somasundram was not alone. INA recruiting officers met with hundreds of boys and even girls from different parts of the Malay Peninsula and the island of Singapore, eager to lay down their lives for the freedom of India after listening to Netaji’s moving speeches. Recalling one of those speeches at Singapore’s Cathay Theater, Somasundaram said: “Such was the magnetism of Netaji’s words that more than 2,000 people, both soldiers and citizens, stood still in overwhelming silence for two hours before erupting. in thunderous applause after his speech. ”
For Somasundram himself, his first encounter with the fiery leader came as an assistant in a shop in his hometown. “With the withdrawal of the British in 1942, our schools also closed and my father decided to send me to work in his friend’s shop. I heard inspiring stories from India’s freedom struggle and also read them in the newspapers. ”
“The only thing that really built the Azad Hind Fauj and is still a testament to Netaji’s leadership today is the training we receive as army recruits,” added Somasundram. At the Azad Training School, Somasundram underwent a 9-month course on guerrilla warfare and jungle training, under the direction of former Indian army officers who had joined the INA. “Roman Hindi was used in the INA and therefore there were no language barriers; we were all one, ”he said.

Times of India

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