The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sania makes it to freedom train

New Delhi, Sept. 28: Tennis star Sania Mirza smiled from a photograph at dozens of Delhi schoolchildren as they entered carriage No. 11 of the Azadi Express that will travel across the country to “fuel pride in India’s freedom struggle”.

“Wasn’t this supposed to be the freedom train'” a girl from Sanskriti school asked her friend.

“All that’s in other compartments, silly,” the friend replied.

Stalwarts of the freedom struggle share space with icons of “new India” on the train that set off today on an eight-month journey to coincide with Bhagat Singh’s birth centenary.

“The idea is to fuel pride in the freedom struggle. And we want to make Indians proud of their present, too. That’s why Sania has been included,” an I&B official said.

From Rani Chennamma of Kittur, who led an uprising against the British in 1829, to the Quit India movement, the train is a virtual encyclopaedia of information.

Almost an entire carriage is devoted to Mahatma Gandhi. Bhagat Singh and his comrades also find prominence. Carriage No. 10 is dedicated to liberalisation, which may not amuse the Left.

The train will first travel to Gujarat before touching the northern states. It will then head south before moving east in February. It is scheduled to reach Howrah on March 8, leaving for Sealdah on the 11th.

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