‘Shoot me’: INA veteran court-martialed for deceiving British government
Initially Parmanand fought World War-II as a British Army soldier and was made a Prisoner of War. Later, he joined INA and was arrested for spying British bases.Updated: Aug 15, 2019 11:06 IST
For 99-year-old Parmanand, who took to the Rajpath this year on the Republic Day, it was a moment of recognition of his pre-independence struggle.
It was for the first time that four of the INA veterans were featured in the parade during the 70th Republic Day celebration. Parmanand, a resident of Fazilpur Badli village, was one of them.
He still remembers the poems of freedom he used to sing during his Indian National Army days. In one go, he can still recite one of the poems with zeal and determination. “It was an everyday ritual to recite poems and fill the hearts of the comrades with motivation,” said Parmanand, who recited these poems while talking to HT. In all these years, these poems, along with Parmanand’s days at INA, have been jotted down by his family as a memoir.
It was April 1940, when Parmanand joined the First Regiment Army in Gurugram. He was sent to Ambala and further to Karachi for training, and then through the navy ship the regiment left for Singapore.
Experts say that in Gurugram’s active involvement with British Army, the Unionist Party, founded by the zamindars of the region (then in Punjab), had an important role to play. “When soldiers were needed by the colonial rulers for World War II, many farmers from the region were forced to join them and were sent to Singapore,” said historian Suraj Bhan Bhardwaj, who is also the principal of Moti Lal Nehru College of Delhi University.
Parmanand first fought the war as a British Army soldier. And he was a POW. “We were not treated like POW but a strict vigil was kept on us. We were being told that the Japanese army would help us in our freedom struggle. At that time we met Rash Behari Bose,” said Parmanand, who was ready to fight a battle for India’s freedom struggle.
In 1943, after meeting Subhash Chandra Bose for the first time, Parmanand says he was filled with grit and determination. “We were charged up and shouted that we are with him. The soldiers were put in four different brigades — Gandhi, Nehru, Subhash, and Azad,” said Parmanand, who was in Subhash brigade.
From Singapore, the INA’s next destination was Burma. For three months, INA fought with British and American army in Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram. “We entered Assam. In Kohima, a major battle took place and we won that. The British Army in their retaliation damaged the bridges through which we used to get foodgrains,” he said.
During this time, Parmanand was asked to spy the British base. But he, along with two other soldiers, got arrested. “From the headquarters in Assam, we were sent to some forest area where there were already six prisoners,” said Parmanand, who faced physical torture and was sent to Jhikargachha Jail (currently in Bangladesh).
After six months of torture, Parmanand was sent to Multan jail. “The stay there was for 17 days whereas I was court-martialed for deceiving British government. I was asked about the consequences of cheating British government. I only said, shoot me,” he said.
On February 11, 1946, he received the train ticket for Gurugram. “I was back home, but I had lost all hopes,” said Parmanand, who worked as Patwari (collecting land revenue records) after the Independence, and later started a woodwork shop, which he closed after the death of his wife.
First Published: Aug 15, 2019 11:06 IST