Tulsi Choudhary had joined the Quit India Movement as a 19-year-old, dreaming of a better future for his country. Absconding from the British police, he would hide in the inaccessible Matwala and Rangsar hills.
Seven decades later, the hills and the villages in Bounsi and Katoria blocks of Banka remain as inaccessible and underdeveloped as they were in the colonial times.
A resident of Patwara village in Katoria block of Banka, Choudhary, 90, clearly remembers the speech of Mahatma Gandhi that he heard in Deoghar (now in Jharkhand) in 1942. “Inspired by the speech, I joined the revolutionary group Parshuram Sena, led by the legendary Parshuram Singh,” he said.
After every operation, they used to retreat to the Matwala and Rangsar hills. At present, his village has no road connecting it to the district headquarters, 20km away. Residents of Patwara have to cross two rivulets — Chandan and Kudal — to reach Lakrikola. Then, they have to cross 15km on foot to reach Banka.
Choudhary said: “We have approached the chief minister and the district magistrate to construct a road for our village.” Choudhary said chief minister Nitish Kumar, during his Seva Yatra mee- ting at PBS College in Banka in 2009, announced that a bridge would be constructed over Chandan from Domuhan to Jamdaha. But nothing happened.
At Choudhary’s home, he is not the only freedom fighter. His elder brother, Sitabi, was a close associate of martyr Mahendra Gop. Now, 96-year-old, he is confined to bed with partial paralysis. His grandson, Pankaj, 34, said: “My grandfather is confined to bed and we have not been able to take him to the nearest town for treatment, as there is no road connectivity.”
While Choudhary and Sitabi live with disappointment, around 22km away, another freedom fighter — Tittu Dom (88) of Nawadih village in Faga panchayat — still waits for the promises of Independence to be fulfilled.
Tittu, 88, had heard Mahatma Gandhi urging Indians to join the struggle for freedom in Bhagalpur in 1942. “My family had one-and-a-half bigha land. But the zamindar used to torment us for taxes. One day, I called the patwari (tax collector) of the landlord to the village market and seized the land deeds from him. Later, I burnt the deeds,” said Tittu.
By the time the police arrived that night to arrest him, he had escaped to the Matwala hills. His bravery, however, has not changed the fate of his village, which like most others in the region, has no road connectivity.
Purnea-based artist Kishore Kumar Rai, popularly known as Gullu da, has prepared a painting which at first glance might seem a depiction of nature but on closer inspection reveals 27 people associated with India’s freedom struggle.
The painting will be exhibited to the public at Azad Colony on Thursday.