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Remnants of a war veteran

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PROUD POSSESSION Chinamma with her grandfather's World War II medals Photo: K.R. Deepak
PROUD POSSESSION Chinamma with her grandfather's World War II medals Photo: K.R. Deepak

The medals are the prize possession of the Chintakayala family

The modern history of India does not speak of many wars that the country had fought except for a couple of conflicts and low-intensity battles with its immediate neighbours Pakistan and China. But Indians were forced by the colonial rulers to take part in both the World Wars, and many had lost their lives. The Amar Jawan Jyoti in New Delhi is a touching monument that lists a few gallant men who were slaughtered during World War I while many still lie buried under the roll of the unknown soldiers grave.This city has many who enrolled under the British Army to fight the advancing Japanese and the Azad Hind Fauj led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in the north-east and in the Arakans. Here is one such soldier who has left his prize possessions reminding his children and grandchildren of that theatre of war in the jungles of Burma (now Myanmar).Chintakayala Appa Rao was a tailor by profession before joining the Army in 1943. He was sent to Burma immediately after his training to stop the rampaging Japanese Army. After serving till the end of the war in 1946 he was relieved. For his loyal service he was awarded three medals by the British Army Star, and Burma Star and George VI medal. On return he once again took to tailoring but the earning was not sufficient to meet both ends. He then became a coolie. He died in 1979. According to his son Ch. Guruji, Appa Rao sold everything that he possessed to support his family, but held the medals close to his heart, despite one being made of pure silver. Till date Guruji and his little daughter Chinamma make it a point to take out the medals once a week and clean them.Guruji tried a lot to obtain a pension for his father, but in vain. "The Government of India did not even care to write to us, while the British Government promptly replied, advising us to get in touch with the official concerned in the Government of India." By the time we could get a favourable reply from the British Commonwealth Ex-Servicemen League, my father had died, " says Guruji. S.B.

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