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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Freedom fighter protests after being turned away from felicitation ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan

Dhandu Ram was denied entry by officials who said that there was no confirmation of his name from the Himachal Pradesh’s government.

india Updated: Aug 13, 2019 21:46 IST
Navneet Rathore
Navneet Rathore
Hindustan Times, Shimla

A 93-year-old freedom fighter and ex-armyman from Himachal was left ‘deeply hurt ’ after he was denied entry at a felicitation ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi last week.

Dandu Ram, who hails from Kuthera village of Himachal Pradesh’s Bilaspur district, claimed to have received an invitation letter from the district administration of Bilaspur in which it was mentioned that his name has been proposed to be honoured and awarded by the President Ram Nath Kovind on August 9. However, he was denied entry by officials who said that there was no confirmation of his name from the Himachal Pradesh’s government.

On August 9, President Ram Nath Kovind had facilitated at least 80 freedom fighters in Rashtrapati Bhavan on the occasion of 77th anniversary of Quit India movement for their contribution and sacrifice for the freedom of the country. PM Narendra Modi was also present during the ceremony and had personally congratulated each freedom fighter.

Upset over the issue, the ex-armyman, who was staying at his daughter’s house in Bilaspur till Sunday, refused to go home and went on a hunger strike till the issue was resolved. He was later taken home by his family members.

He has demanded the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the state government to order an inquiry into the incident.

Dandu Ram had joined the freedom struggle during his childhood. He was exiled by the King of Kohlur, a princely state in then Punjab Province of British India (present-day Bilaspur) at the age of 12 years.

After India gained independence from Britain, he served in Indian army in Dogra Regiment. He also participated in the Indo-China war in 1962 and 1965 and in the Indo-Pak war in 1971.

“I do not wish to be honoured but such kind of disrespect at this stage of my life should be inquired as it is related to the dignity and self-respect of a freedom fighter” he added.

No intention to hurt freedom fighter: CM

Upon hearing his plea, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur has ordered the district administration of Bilaspur to investigate the matter and meet the family members. “The government has no intention to hurt the sentiments of the respected freedom fighter,” he said.

He has also appealed to Dhandu Ram to remain calm and said that he can meet him if he wants to discuss the matter.

First Published: Aug 13, 2019 21:45 IST

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