Uttarakhand’s unsung hero

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Rishikesh, Lying helpless in the Department of Internal Medicine, Geriatric and Medicine Unit- 1, Room no: 034313 of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh lies a 92 year old, veteran freedom fighter from Tehri, Shri Sachchidanand Panuli.

Sachchidanand and his ailing wife Manorama were admitted in AIIMS on the 9th of March 2020 due to age related ailments. Sadly just two days later on the 12th of March, his wife of over sixty seven years passed away.

Indeed Uttarakhand’s history (and for that matter of the nation too) would be incomplete without the mention of Sachchidanand Panuli. He is the younger brother of the freedom fighter and former MP late Shri Paripurnanand Panuli of Tehri.

If you were to visit Tehri today, you would hear tales of a man who in his youth donated his personal land holding for the construction of a hospital in his ancestral Chhol village. Defense Minister, Shri KC Pant in the late1980’s, inaugurated the hospital.

Make no mistake, the old man who now lies helpless was once honoured and feted by the President Smt. Pratibha Devi Patil. In the good old days, those who later became the Who’s-Who of the hill-state sought after his blessings. Today he lies lonely, forlorn and forgotten in a common ward bed.

This octogenarian lies unknown, surviving on tubes that dangle near him. Luckily he still has his doting children and grandchildren helped along by a dedicated team of doctors and staff who are doing their very best to nurse him back.

Surely the Uttarakhand State Government can intervene and show some measure of kindness and gratitude to the family of the freedom fighter. Surely, a private ward, is not too much to ask for? Maybe it’s time to remind folks that those who forget their heroes are doomed to pass on unsung.