On 1st September 2020 – we remember Indian freedom fighter Mr. O. C. Chacko on his 100th (centenary) birth anniversary. Mr. O. C. Chacko was part of the Indian National Army (INA) of Subash Chandhra Bose and member of the Kuriannoor Mar Thoma Church, Pathanamthitta, Kerala. He was born on 1st September 1920 and passed away on 14th April 2014. He is buried at Neelethu Mar Thoma Church, Kuriannoor.
He was 95 years old and resided at Odikandathil-Vadakkemannil, Kuriannoor.
“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”
We carry below an English translation of an article Published in Malayala Manorama newspaper on
14th August 2013, a day before Independence Day.
Even after half a century of independence, Mr. O.C. Chacko observes, it has not lost its sheen. Before the day when the tricolor of India rose up bringing down the British flag on August 15, 1947, the eyes that dreamt such a morning still sparkle. The ears that heard the trumpet call of freedom fighters and their war cry are still kept open to hear it again. Only that the feet that had walked in steady gait braving the enslaving British yoke have become slightly unsteady. But he still jumps up from his wheel chair with the same enthusiasm on hearing the names of Netaji and INA – that is O.C.Chacko of Odikandathil Vadakkemannil, Kuriannoor.
He is one of the few surviving soldiers of INA. Every Independence Day is the birth of a new era for Mr. O.C. Chacko. Coincidentally, his birthday falls on a day following the Independence Day. He enters his 94th birthday on 1st September, 2013. In the ecstasy of witnessing one more Independence Day for Mr. Chacko, even in this freedom celebrations the young generation is eagerly awaiting to hear and record his memories. Son of Mr. Chacko of Odikandathil Vadakkemannil, born in September 1920, Mr. Chacko boarded a ship to Singapore in 1941 in search of a job. After a few years he became a soldier of the Indian National Army organized by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. He continued to serve as a soldier in the INA till 1945.
He had his first job in Singapore in the war department of the British Government. Thereafter he worked in several organizations in various capacities. Even then, an independent India was his dream. Later, he recorded all the important events in his life. There in his records is the history of organizing the Indian Independence League under the auspices of civilian leaders and Military captain Mohan Singh soon after the surrender of the British Army in Singapore.
Coming from Germany in 1943 in a submarine, Netaji took charge of the independence struggle in Singapore. Soon after, he constituted Azad Hind Government there. He opened camps for training people to be sent to the Burmese war front. He sent a few volunteers including the local people to the Burma border. It was at this time Mr. O.C. Chacko was recruited to the INA. He cherishes the memory of the occasion when he met Netaji and spoke to him. Out of the 60,000 Indians there, majority had joined the INA. Mr. Chacko remembers about Netaji’s presence in Singapore when Britain surrendered to Japan on August 15, 1945. Chacko believes that he (Netaji) was killed in a plane crash on his way to Japan via Taiwan.
His fighting days were much before his marriage when he was a bachelor. After marriage, he led a peaceful life in SIngapore with his wife and children. Retiring from his job in 1970 he came back to settle down in Kerala. He is still keeps as treasures the INA uniforms and the badges bearing Netaji’s picture and other symbols. He had other connections related to the INA as well. In Kozhencherry and Thottapuzhassery there were a few retired INA soldiers. All of them except Mr. Chacko are no more.
Mr. Chacko is a hero to the new generation of the locality as an enthusiastic old veteran who had participated and witnessed the freedom struggle. He is a regular invitee to the independence Day/Republic Day celebrations held by schools and local organizations. He participates in such functions wholeheartedly and shares the memories of old times. ‘Even when I decline such invitations’, he says, ‘the youngsters would not let go’. They want to hear the history of the struggle. Behind the gentle demeanour, the man of 94 still exudes an aura of heroism.