The first flag of Indian Independence

Odisha Uncategorized
Bhubaneswar, January 22,
2018: In a small village of Manipur, one last veteran of Netaji’s Indian
National Army still lovingly cherishes the first flag that was unfurled in
Indian Territory. It was not the tricolor, but the INA Flag that was flown in
liberated India at Moirang on the April 14, 1944 by Colonel Shaukat Hayat
Malik, commander of the Bahadur Group.

Moirang was the first
Indian Territory captured by the INA. Kept in a sealed trunk, YA Shishak takes
it out on occasions and when visitors reach his remote place. He recollects
that as a fourteen year old boy, he was with the group when the flag was
hoisted. The INA forces came under a severe barrage and had to retreat soon
after, leaving the flag at the flag post. That night, he had sneaked back and
got the flag down. Since then, the flag is with him. Shishak and his flag have
been reported in the papers since the last three decades.
He is one of the last few
of the Indian National Army veterans. His small house, just below the Shashank
War Memorial is a private museum filled with war memorabilia. He has samurai
swords, helmets, artillery pieces, bullets, shells and photographs. His
visitor’s book had scores of entries. There were testimonials from Japanese,
British, Indian and even German visitors. Shishak showed me his passport, which
proved that he had made two trips to Japan where he was honoured for his war
efforts, but the Government of India still does not recognise him as a freedom
The Battle for Imphal and
Kohima has been adjudged as “Britain’s Greatest Battle”. In the short list for
the greatest battles fought by the British, the Imphal campaign polled nearly
25 percent of the votes, much more than the Battle of Waterloo and the D-Day
Landings at Normandy. The British forces had fought the combined armies of
Netaji’s Azad Hind Force or Indian National Army and the Japanese.  It is estimated that the British lost 16,500
lives while the INA and the Japanese lost 53,000 soldiers. The fight for Imphal
lasted   nearly six months, while the
Kohima battle was on for three months.
INA researcher Anil DhirI
has visited Shishak thrice in the last few years.
“The first flag of
Independent India should find its place in the Netaji Museum at Cuttack. I had
written several times to the authorities that he should be contacted and asked
to donate the flag for the Cuttack Museum,” said Dhir. 
“Shishak is an unhappy
man. The last time I met him he rued bitterly: ‘I was just a fourteen year old
boy when I fought for Netaji, but the Commissioner at Ukhrul is not sending my
file to Delhi with his recommendation.’ I too was unsuccessful in my efforts to
get him his due. If the Government of Odisha sends its representatives to
Ukhrul, he may part with his cherished flag. I will be willing to offer all
help in this endeavour,” added Dhir.    

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