Colonel Nizamuddin was his name. He once took three bullets to save Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, the charismatic leader of the Indian National Army, in the forests of former Burma. In fact, Netaji bestowed the title of ‘Colonel’ on him.
Here’s the untold story of his life.
The courage and contributions of many lesser-known liberation warriors have vanished from public awareness seventy-one years after India eventually gained its hard-won independence. These men and women, mostly ignored by authors and historians, played tiny but significant roles in clearing the path for India’s independence from the British.
One such unheralded hero is a guy few Indians are aware of, a man who lived a life of intrigue and peril in order to aid his country in its fight against colonial authority.
Nizamuddin, whose birth name was Saifuddin, was born in the village of Dhakwan (now in the district of Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh) in the year 1901. Imam Ali, his father, managed a canteen in Rangoon, and he grew up in the hamlet with his mother, a homemaker.
Saifuddin moved away from home in his early twenties to join the British army, arriving at the city via ship via Calcutta. He overheard a British army general urging white soldiers to let the Indian sepoys die but preserve the donkeys to carry food for the rest of the force while serving in the colonial army.
He shot the cop and fled to Singapore, enraged at the callousness and injustice of his words. In the presence of Subhash Chandra Bose, Saifuddin changed his name to Nizamuddin and joined the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj).
Netaji arrived in Singapore in 1943 after a secret submarine mission from Berlin to take leadership of INA and begin the most revered chapter of his life. The intriguing narrative of Netaji’s heroic underwater trip may be found here.