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Forgotten patriot paid heavily for saving Gandhi's life: Everyone remembers Nathu Ram Godse, the man who killed Mahatma Gandhi. But people know little of the cook who saved the Mahatma's life. A resident of Motihari district in Bihar, saved Gandhi from being poisoned in 1917.  In 1917 two top leaders of India's freedom movement - Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Rajendra Prasad - were on a trip to Motihari, the headquarters of erstwhile Champaran district, to probe the appalling condition of labourers at indigo plantations and to hold an agitation against the British government. This was the first agitation led by Gandhi in India. According to the book Champaran ke Swatantatra Senani (Freedom Fighters of Champaran), Erwin, a British manager of an indigo plantation, invited Gandhi to dinner and told his cook, to serve him poisoned milk. The cook took the glass to Gandhi but revealed the plot. Dr Rajendra Prasad, later India's first president, was a witness. The cook's patriotism cost him. "The manager tortured, jailed our grandfather, turned our house into a crematorium and drove us out of the village," said Aslam, the cook's grandson. On a visit to Motihari in 1950, Dr Prasad ordered that the cook's family be allotted 24 acres of land. "For years, he ran pillar to post in the hope of getting the land," said Allauddin, another grandson.  The unsung hero died in 1957. Six decades later, his grandchildren live in penury. "We are hoping against hope," said Zahid, another of his grandsons, unbundling files carrying documents of their communication with government agencies. His grandsons stay at Akwa Parsawni village in West Champaran district. Illiterate, they work as migrant laborers. They have been visiting the government officials in the hope of getting the land but all in vain. When the then President of India Mrs. Pratibha Singh Patil came to know about the dire condition of the family of Mahatma's saviour, she stepped in to ensure that his grandchildren get the land that was gifted by India's first President Dr Rajendra Prasad. It is to be seen whether his grandchildren, who are living in penury, see the presidential promises turning into reality
(Sources: TwoCircles, HindustanTimes)         [Answer at the bottom of this page]

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Answer to the WORD Jumble: Batakh Miyan Ansari (1867-1957)
 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 September 2015 on page no. 22

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