Netajiís driver to get freedom fighter status finally

The wait of 107-year-old Nizamuddin, who claims to be a close aide, guard and driver of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, could well be over as district administration has now initiated the process of giving him the status of freedom fighter. Born in Dhakwa village of Mubarkpur area in 1901, "Colonel" Nizamuddin was honoured on Wednesday by the District Magistrate of Azamgarh on the occasion of Netaji's birth anniversary.

DM Pranjal Yadav said the documents available with Col Nizamuddin are enough to help him get the status of freedom fighter and "it would be done at the earliest". According to Nizamuddin, his father Imam Ali used to run a canteen in Singapore, and at the age of around 24-25 he fled from his native village here to the country. At that time, Netaji was recruiting youngsters for his Azad Hind Fauj in Singapore and he also joined it, said Nizamuddin. Netaji was impressed with my dedication and later appointed me as his personal guard and driver and for the next 10 years I remained with him, Nizamuddin said.

The close aide of Netaji claimed that as the British had launched a manhunt to nab Bose he undertook most of his trips via sea route travelling in submarines.

"If required, he also travelled by a 12-cylinder vehicle, a gift, driven by me," Nizamuddin claimed. "I reached Dum Dum airport from Rangoon in 1950 and also visited his Kolkata residence and tried to look for Netaji but to no avail after which I returned to Burma," he claimed.

Nizamuddin said that he returned to his native village in Azamgarh along with his family on June 5, 1969 and started living there.

Later in 2001, Nizamuddin disclosed his identity but had to wait for another 12 years for the administration and government to acknowledge it.

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