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Was it a coincidence?

It was 23rd January 2008, birthday of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. I was waiting to board the train at Jharsuguda, Orissa. Suddenly it struck to me that the train, which runs between Pune and Howrah, has been named Azad Hind Express. I live in New Delhi. I never thought that on this day I will be in Orrisa and will tarvel by this train which bears the name of Netaji’s famous Azad Hind Fauj. Was it a coincidence or I was destined to celebrate Netaji’s birthday in this manner?

Introduced in 1995, Azad Hind Express runs between Pune Junction Railway Station in Maharashtra and Howrah Railway Station in West Bengal. (“Azad Hind” means “Free India”). The train operates daily and covers a distance of 2,022 km.

Netaji was born on 23 January 1897 in Cuttack, Orissa. A noted Indian politician of his own make up, he fought for India’s independence from British rule. He was jailed 11 times in his fight for freedom and was killed under suspicious circumstances in an airplane crash off Taipei (18August 1945).

He recruited Indian prisoners-of-war in Europe and North Africa to form the Indian Legion (or Azad Hind Fauj or “Free India Army”) to fight for India’s freedom. He proclaimed the formation of the Provisional Government of Free India at the Cathay Cinema Hall. Then he declared war on Britain and the United States. With help from the Japanese, he reorganized and rejuvenated the Azad Hind Fauj (also called the Indian National Army). On 14 April 1944, he led the Azad Hind Fauj on an offensive against the British in India; and crossing the Burmese border, he planted the Indian National tricolour flag at Moirang, Manipur . It was a symbol of claiming Indian soil from the British.

The only true leader India had, other than Ganghi ji. In many respects, he even surpassed Gandhi ji. It was a great privilage for me to travel on a train named after his Azad Hind Fauj on his birthday.

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