Ranchi, Aug. 13: Freedom fighters from Jharkhand have sought the intervention of President Pranab Mukherjee to alleviate the plight of farmers and tribals of the underdeveloped state.
Sitaram Sah (88), Devi Prasad Sinha Chaudhary (86) from Deoghar and Yugal Kishore Chaubey (89) from Godda met Mukherjee while attending a reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan on the occasion of 71st anniversary of Quit India Movement on August 9. As many as 121 freedom fighters from across the country were felicitated at the event.
The three senior citizens, who had once fought for the country’s independence, used the occasion to raise their voice against the prevailing socio-economic condition and the government’s apathy towards the downtrodden.
They submitted separate petitions to the President and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who was also present at the event.
“It seems the British were better than the today’s ruling class. I brought to his (the President’s) notice the poor irrigation facilities as well as plight of farmers in Santhal Pargana,” Sah told The Telegraph over telephone from his residence in June Pokhar in Deoghar.
Through his 16-point charter of demands, he also pointed out how middlemen were siphoning off funds meant for MGNREGA.
Presently living with his sons and grandchildren, Sah joined the freedom struggle following Mahatma Gandhi’s Quit India call. He had ransacked government buildings and attacked policemen during those days. Later, he was arrested and sent to Patna jail, where he was imprisoned for seven months.
An ardent follower of Gandhi, he spends half his freedom fighter’s pension on social work and contributes to various relief funds.
Chaubey, another Quit India activist, insisted on meeting Sonia to register his grievances. “Her security officials stopped me and said my petition will be received by her private secretary, which I refused. But she stopped and spoke to me for a while,” he said.
He added that they didn’t want any special treatment for freedom fighters. “We are only remembered on Republic Day and Independence Day. We have forgotten Mahatma Gandhi. This is true in Jharkhand as well,” he rued.
But Chaubey has hopes that the President would bring in positive changes in Jharkhand and Santhal Pargana.
A resident of Pathargama in Godda, he wants recognition for freedom fighters who had long been forgotten, provisions for widows of freedom fighters.
Inspired by Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, Chaubey had taken part in the Quit India Movement, along with late Kamlakant Jha and Mahindra Jha.
Chaudhary, a resident of Simra village in Deoghar, is not keeping well these days. Though he does not hope for things to change quickly in Jharkhand, he went to Delhi with his demands. He requested the President to pay special attention to Santhal Pargana.
“Swatantrata senaniyon ke liye samman manga. Lekin agar rastrapati mahoday Jharkhand aur Santhal Pargana ke liye kuch karen, to us se badi aur koi baat nahi hogi, (I asked him to ensure honour for freedom fighters. If he does something for Jharkhand and Santhal Pargana, nothing can be better than that),” he said.