GUWAHATI: Darthawma Renthlei, the last surviving member of Azad Hind Fauj from Mizoram, passed away on Sunday.
He died at his home in northern Mizoram’s Lunglei town. The 99-year-old, who was awarded the ‘Tamrapatra’ by Central government in 1972, was suffering from old age ailments which confined him to his bed for several years.
Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, who himself was a leader of Mizo insurgency movement, mourned the demise.
“Shocked to learn that the last surviving Mizo Azad Hind Fauj member, a Freedom Fighter Shri Darthawma Renthlei (99-years) has passed away peacefully on 21.07.2019 at Lunglei. Mizoram will always remember His sacrifice for a free India. Condolences to his Family,” Zoramthanga tweeted.
Shocked to learn that the last surviving Mizo Azad Hind Fauj member,a Freedom Fighter Shri Darthawma Renthlei (99-years) has passed away peacefully on 21.07.2019 at Lunglei. Mizoram will always remember His sacrifice for a free India.— Zoramthanga (@ZoramthangaCM) July 21, 2019
Condolences to his Family.
Rest in Peace Sir pic.twitter.com/FRfnUejESu
Former Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla also expressed condolences.
“I knew him personally. It’s sad that we have lost him. He was one of the very few Mizo freedom fighters who had fought for India’s independence,” Thanhawla told this newspaper.
He said by awarding the Tamrapatra, the Centre, as well as the country, had recognized his contributions.
Born in 1920 in the state’s Pukpui village, Renthlei had served in the Medical Corps of Indian Army prior to becoming a freedom fighter. During World War II, he was sent to Penang Island in Malaysia where he had fought the invading Japanese soldiers but only to be caught and taken to Singapore as a prisoner of war.
He had come face to face with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose when the latter once visited the prison. Following his release, he had joined the Azad Hind Fauj and fought the British Army in Myanmar along with fellow rebels and Japanese soldiers. However, they surrendered in the aftermath of the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The British convicted Renthlei for waging a war against them and put him behind bars. He was released two years later in 1945 after he had served jail terms in Chittagong (now in Bangladesh) and Lucknow.