Adivasi Awaaz creator Kamal Jamatia, writes about the life of a World War II soldier from Tripura, who died at the age of 125, for our readers.
To most of us, World War II is an event that is frozen in time. We experience it through movies, literature, and documentaries. But remember that there were actual humans who took part in it and fought to protect their nations. As the end of WWII completes 77 years, an era has come to an end in Tripura as the last soldier of that time died at the age of 125.
Kumar Singh Debbarma was born in pre-independence Tripura to a family of farmers. As a teenager, he joined the Army of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur who ruled the state from 1923 to 1947. Debbarma joined in 1936 and was immediately sent for a four-year rigorous training. In an older interview with Adivasi Lives Matter, he said that the four years were very harsh and the recruits were put through many tests. After the completion of their training as part of the Tripura Rifles Army, the batch was sent to Burma to take part in the War. In the interview, Kumar had recalled that his battalion walked up to Japan in order to fulfil their duties.
Life during the War was filled with adversities. The soldiers had to walk for miles without rest. However, one memory shined through Kumar’s mind–his meeting with Subhash Chandra Bose.
The War ended in 1945 and Kumar Debbarma returned home in 1948 after retiring from the Army. He got married and settled down at a village called Kanchanmala. This is when he began to show interest in politics and became an activist. He was elected as the village pradhan and became a well-known figure in the area.
After starting out as a soldier and then moving on to become a politician, Kumar entered a third phase of upheaval when his family asked him to quit politics and become a priest. Kumar’s ancestors were known to be devout followers of Lord Shiva. They built temples in their homes to pray to the deity every day, as such, their homes used to be visited by hordes of devotees. Kumar decided to listen to his family members and spent the rest of his life as a priest. As Kumar grew older, the people in the area began to see him as a divine figure and started offering their prayers to him.
Kumar passed away on January 1st, 2022. As in life, even in death he made a mark as the only person to have lived till the age of 125.
Note: The information in the article was provided by Kumar Singh Debbarma’s grandson Ganak Debbarma.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.