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Naval mutiny hero dies at 82

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OUR CORRESPONDENT   |   Darjeeling   |   Published 05.05.03, 12:00 AM

Darjeeling, May 5: One of the participants of the Naval Uprising of 1946, Pushpa Kumar Ghisingh, died at his Sitlu bustee residence last evening. He was 82.

Ghisingh, a freedom fighter from the hills, was awarded the Tamra Patra by the India government for his role in the struggle for Independence.

In a recent interview to a local Nepali daily, he had said the uprising had first taken place on the Jamuna on February 19, 1946.

Ghisingh, who worked as an electrician aboard the warship had, along with his colleagues, boycotted breakfast and later participated in replacing the Union Jack with the Tri-colour.

As the uprising gained momentum, the British first sent Indian soldiers to counter the rebels.

When the Indian soldiers failed to curb the revolt, the government sent their English counterparts. This was followed by a pitched battle between the rebel sailors and the British soldiers.

“My uncle talked about how he had broken into the ammunition room and had fought with the soldiers,” said the freedom fighter’s nephew Bhupendra Kant Ghishingh. The Indian National Congress had intervened and coaxed the sailors to lay down their arms.

“On the fifth day of the revolt that my uncle was arrested. He used to talk about his days at the Mulundi jail. He was court martialled but was acquitted during the trial and was given a chance to join the Navy once again. Ghisingh, however, left the Navy on September 8, 1946,” said Bhupendra.

After his retirement, Pushpa started working as an assistant engineer (transmission section) at the All India Radio in Kurseong until his retirement in the early eighties.

In recognition of Ghisingh’s role in the Independence movement, the government felicitated him with the Tamra Patra on August 15, 1989.

Unlike the Sepoy Mutiny, Non-cooperation Movement and other important incidents, which punctuated the freedom struggle, the Naval Uprising has not been given much importance in history books.

Ghishingh was a follower of Subhas Chandra Bose till his last days and believed that the country would have taken a different shape had Netaji played an active part in the politics of independent India.

The 82-year-old freedom fighter had died of old age but for the last few months had been complaining of stomach cramps. The pains had not been diagnosed, said C.K. Ghisingh, the younger brother of the freedom fighter .

The freedom fighter is survived by two sons — Pema and Gyalgen — and daughter Jyoti. The last rites of Ghisingh will be performed tomorrow morning at his residence in Sitlu bustee in Kurseong.

Residents of Darjeeling and Kurseong said he was one of the last surviving freedom fighters in the region.

However, a check of records at the district administration office did not offer any official information on it.

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