By TANIA SAILI
RISHIKESH, 15 Mar: 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, Sachchidanand Painuli.
Sachchidanand and his ailing wife Manorama were admitted in AIIMS on 9 March, 2020, due to age related ailments. Sadly, just two days later on 12 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 Painuli. He is the younger brother of the freedom fighter and former MP, the late Paripurnanand Painuli 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. Defence Minister KC Pant, in the late1980s, inaugurated the hospital.
Make no mistake, the old man who now lies helpless was once honoured and feted by the President, Pratibha Devi Patil. In the good old days, those who later became the Who’s Who of the hill state sought 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 and is served by a dedicated team of doctors and staff, who are doing their best to nurse him back to health. Surely, the Uttarakhand 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.