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A Sadan for freedom fighters

A GREY building with a prominently placed Gandhi statue houses 12-14 freedom fighters, a few war widows and dependants of freedom fighters who have nowhere to go.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 00:13 IST

A GREY building with a prominently placed Gandhi statue houses 12-14 freedom fighters, a few war widows and dependants of freedom fighters who have nowhere to go.

The buildings is Swatantrata Sangram Senani Sadan in River Bank Colony and it brings alive the memory of the freedom struggle and grips the air with nostalgia.

Shagun Chand Jain, Amarnath Gupta, Dr Babu Singh Santoshi and Shiv Nath Tewari are a few of them who stay here at present and talk about their life, freedom struggle, ideologies, joys, pains, agony and India. They are all aged above 80 and live as one big family.

Amarnath Gupta, 85 participated in the Quit India Movement and stays at the Sadan along with his wife. And hen you ask him where he belongs to he says, “Hindustan mera ghar hai. I don’t belong to any particular place or city. I belong to the country.” Gupta is a heart patient and his pension goes in his treatment.

However, nothing till now has deterred his faith and he still says, ‘Abhi toh mein jawan hoon’ and shows a lively hope.

The Sadan gives them a roof over their head and fulfills all there other basic needs like- food and other necessities. These people either have to pay Rs 400 or Rs 200 per month depending on the pension that they are getting from the government. They get two proper and nutritious meals, one litre of milk and fruits everyday. At one point of time almost 30 freedom fighters used to stay here tell officials of this Sadan. The Sadan first came up at Nirala Nagar in 1975, but later when the River Bank Colony building was constructed 1985 it was shifted here.

Shagun Chand Jain, 81 says, “I don’t stay at this place permanently. My wife and I keep coming and going from here. But this place is good. The government is at least doing something for the people.”

This family celebrates all festivals together. “Mostly, we celebrate national festivals here. All of us here unfurl the flag and the residents give speech. All this is followed by good food,” tells an official at the Sadan.

However, it is not always that the people get along well. All of them have very strong political views and at times their views clash with each other.

“When so many of us stay here together then clashes are its bound to happen,” says Dr Babu Singh Santoshi, another freedom fighter.

All the people staying here are different from each other. Like for instance Shiv Nath Tewari aka ‘Pehalwan’ is hard of hearing. While his friends talk to him, they have to literally shout but they don’t mind doing that and that is what makes the place special.

However, there is one point on which all of them agree. They are of the view that the present state of the country is ‘appalling’. There is corruption, injustice and insecurity. One of fighter’s says, “Seeing the present state of the country, I feel that the force and struggle required to free the country of corruption and evil will be more than that required during freedom struggle. Corruption has penetrated deep into the system.”