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INA hero gets shabby treatment
From Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

DHARAMSALA, April 30 — Eightysix-year-old Indian National Army (INA) hero Capt Ram Singh Thakur, who composed the tune of the National Anthem, was today asked by the district authorities to vacate the Circuit House when he arrived at his home town here after 25 years.

The highly-decorated Capt Ram Singh, who has been bestowed with medals and honours, was a close aide of Netaji Subhas Chander Bose and was the music director of the INA. Among the long list of medals he has been decorated with are King George-VI Medal in 1937, Netaji Gold Medal-1043, Uttar Pradesh 1st Governor Gold Medal-1956, President Police Medal-1972, UP Sangeet Natak Akademi Award-1979, Sikkim Government Mitrasen Award-1993 and the First Azad Hind Fauj Award by the West Bengal Government in 1996. Several states have honoured him and invited him to sing and play the violin which had been presented to him by Netaji.

Capt Ram Singh has come here to attend the 11th All-India Shaheed Durga Mal, Dal Bahadur Memorial Gold Cup Football tournament organised in memory of the two martyrs who were hanged in Delhi during the freedom struggle. Capt Ram Singh, who arrived here from Lucknow, where he has settled, was staying at the Circuit House last night when he along with his son, Udai Shankar, was asked to leave as no rooms were available. The local Gorkha community took him to the State Education Board rest house at Chilgari. On being taken there, he refused to stay there as he did not like the accommodation.

Following a request by members of the organising committee of the tournament, he has been allowed to stay at the Circuit House for another day.

The request of the organising committee to the Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, to declare Capt Ram Singh a state guest a few days ago was also rejected.

Capt Ram Singh, who is the life-long adviser to the Uttar Pradesh Police band, was honoured by the Delhi Government in the Assembly, where he played the violin and sang "Kadam kadam badhaye ja", "Shub sukh chain ki barkha barse" and "Subhas ji, Subhas ji jaane Hind aa gaye". During the golden jubilee Independence celebrations, he was invited to functions of the Delhi Government and was a state guest each time. He has written and composed the music of "Kadam kadam badhaye ja", which has now been officially made the Army song.

Unfazed by the shabby treatment meted out to him, the simple and down-to-earth, Capt Ram Singh says that he is delighted to be back in Dharamsala, his birth place. "I am glad to meet my relatives and see how much the place has developed".

He says his happiest moments were when he played the National Anthem on the German violin presented to him by Netaji before Mahatma Gandhi in the Delhi cantonment prison in 1945 and on August 15, 1947, when Nehru unfurled the Tricolour at Red Fort.

Capt Ram Singh plans to stay here for a few more days with one of his relatives.

The district administration reportedly flouted protocol when the Nepalese Ambassador, Dr Bhek Bahadur Thapa, who had come here to inaugurate the tournament, was not declared a state guest by the government. The organisers of the tournament said they had requested the Deputy Commissioner and the GAD in Shimla a week ago to declare him a state guest but nobody bothered. It was with great difficulty that they were given a room for the Ambassador at the Circuit House and he was taken to Kangra and Dharamsala in a taxi hired by the organisers.

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