Darjeeling lost one of her her bravest son on Tuesday. The ‘Dilli Chalo’ war cry that had struck fear in the hearts of the British fell silent with the death of Krishna Bahdur Mukhia. He was the personal bodyguard and driver of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, during his warring days in the jungles of Burma in 1943.
Mukhia practiced what he preached. In all his speeches, delivered at various functions, he used to say “Materialistic happiness is important but it is not everything. Values are more long lasting and give greater happiness. Walk on the path that Netaji showed and nothing can go wrong.”
Ask him the moments he cherished most in his life and he would chuckle, “We are the ones who turned days into nights and nights into days in the jungles of Burma, fighting alongside Netaji. We used to sleep the whole day in the jungles and attack the British at night. The British used to light up the jungle with flares and open fire with machine guns. We charged them with bayonets and Khukuris. Dilli Chalo was the slogan that wrung fear into the hearts of the Goras.”
Born in Banneckborne Tea Estate on May 12, 1921, Mukhia was recruited to the Gurkha Regiment in 1941 from the Army Depot in Ghoom, the British awestruck by his boxing skills.
After fighting in many fronts for the British, he was among the troops that surrendered to the Japanese on February 15, 1942 in Malaya. As a Prisoner of War he joined Netaji’s INA in 1943.
Mukhia was the personal body guard of Netaji and used to gather intelligence, comb areas that he would visit and fought in the front lines.
Later he was wounded in Burma , captured by the British on January 31, 1944 and taken to a prison in Bangladesh . He was kept in a prison in Burma for 6 months, faced a military tribunal and dismissed from the Gurkha Regiment under the British.
He returned to Darjeeling in 1946 and got a job with the district school board. On August 15, 1972 Mukhia was awarded the Tamro Potro from the Government of India for his contribution in the Indian Freedom Movement. He retired from the school board in 1986.
Mukhia used to live with his family comprising of his sons and grandsons at Rockville in Darjeeling. “My father died of a brief illness and old age. He was 91. On September 10, he was down with fever. On September 11 at around 8:30pm he passed away peacefully. His funeral will be held on Friday,” said Suresh Mukhia, the eldest of his three sons.