Assam freedom fighter’s Tricolour to flutter again

Khadi flag was specially made in 1947 after it was clear that the British were leaving

Nurul Hussain had intended to display his father’s most prized possession — a khadi Tricolour of 1947 vintage — to mark India’s 75th Independence Day.

But friends and neighbours in Sivasagar district’s Demow town, about 380 km east of Guwahati, advised him not to wait that long. He agreed to unfurl the National Flag on Thursday.

“They have a point. I am 78 and the only survivor among Mohammed Hussain’s five sons,” he said.

Mohammed Hussain spent the later part of his life as a cleric. Locals, however, knew him more as Commander Sahib than a maulvi. “He had sown the seeds of revolt against the British in this part. People gradually began to call him Commander Sahib. The British were so angry with his rebellion that they confiscated 47 ‘bighas’ of land he owned,” Mr. Hussain told The Hindu from Demow.

After Commander Sahib died in 1971, his youngest son took over the responsibility of preserving what his father referred to as his treasure box.

More than a flag

“The box contains much more than the spotless khadi flag. There are records pertaining to his joining the freedom movement under Mahatma Gandhi, his joining the Indian National Congress and assorted items associated with many a great leader,” said Mr. Hussain, who was the founder-teacher of the Demow Town High School in 1970.

The flag was specially made in 1947 after it became clear that the British were leaving India. The records, Mr. Hussain said, trace the history of the movement in eastern Assam from 1938 to 1947, including the Quit India movement.

Many among the town’s 30,000 people will turn up at the courtyard of the Hussain house for the unfurling of the flag at 7 a.m.

“Everybody knows Commander Sahib’s house. Many of us will be there for the unfurling to see a 72-year-old National Flag, neatly preserved, being hoisted for the first time since 1947,” said Umesh Chetia, a local resident.

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