Bhopal: Once jailed by the Britishers, freedom fighters now in ‘house arrest’ thanks to Covid pandemic

Bhopal: This Independence Day, the handful of surviving freedom fighters in the city would be confined to their homes. The state-level Independence Day function at the historic Lal Parade Ground here has been scaled down this year due to the corona pandemic and they have not been invited to the function in view of their age.

Every year, the freedom fighters were taken to the ground in government vehicles where they were felicitated by the chief guest.

Mukhtar Ahmed, 94, doesn’t remember for how long he has been attending the I-Day function in the mornings and the get-together at the Raj Bhawan in the evenings.

Ahmed was first arrested in Sholapur (Maharashtra) for taking part in a demonstration as part of the Quit India Movement and had to spend eight days in prison. He subsequently moved to Bhopal where he was taken into custody again and this time, he was jailed for six months.

He is hard of hearing though his voice is still firm and clear. His wife, Akhtar Jehan said, “Every year on I-Day he gets ready early in the morning. A government car came to fetch him. This time, however, a team from Raj Bhawan feted him at his home on Friday."

Mohd Zameer Khan, 92, would also not be attending the I-Day event. His granddaughter Farah Naaz recalled that Zameer Khan used to attend the I-Day ceremony without fail every year. He got up at six in the morning and was ready by eight. “Yes, I am feeling bad but what to do,” Khan said.

He was arrested for hoisting the national flag at the local textile mill on 10 August 1942 - two days after Mahatma Gandhi asked the British to quit India and was jailed for two months. “The I-Day was just like Eid and Diwali for him,” his granddaughter said.

The ninety-two-year Mufti Mohammed Razaq is also a freedom warrior. His son said that people from the Raj Bhawan had come to felicitate his father in the afternoon but he was sleeping. “They would come again in the evening,” he said.

Mufti Saheb’s son said that he and his entire family used to accompany his father to the I-Day function every year. “Yes, Walid Saheb is missing it and so are we all,” he said.

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