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13 years on, Purulia heroes given Rs 10k

13 years on, Purulia heroes given Rs 10k

Author: Debajyoti Chakraborty
Date: July 6, 2009
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/13-years-on-Purulia-heroes-given-Rs-10k/articleshow/4742284.cms

The two youth who had risked life and limb to inform police on the night of the sensational Purulia armsdrop have been handed Rs 10,000 cheques by the state government. Both of them have decided to send back the petty acknowledgment, which came over 13 years after the incident, in which several hundred AK-47 rifles and more than a million rounds of ammunition were dropped from a Latvian plane in a field on the night of December 17, 1995.

In the months that followed the armsdrop - which spawned a thousand conspiracy theories - Subhas Tantubai and Tarit Bandopadhyay were hailed, feted and honoured for their bravery. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then leader of the Opposition in Parliament, had pledged them jobs for their service to the nation. The promise was never fulfiled.

Residents of Galudi and Khatanga villages under Purulia's Jhalda police station, the two youth in their mid-20s were at the local club when the aircraft dropped the sophisticated firearms. "It was around midnight when we heard the plane's droning noise. Minutes later, there was a crashing sound of something heavy dropping in a nearly field. We went out in the chilly night and found a number of boxes scattered over a wide area. We decided to get in touch with police immediately," said Subhas.

Rushing through the foggy night on their bicycles, the two of them informed Kotsila and Jhalda police stations. By the next morning, news of the armsdrop reverberated through the power corridors of Delhi. In the initial flurry, the two received a lot of attention. A few months later, Vajpayee visited the area and promised them jobs. Buoyed by hope and a national leader's assurance, Subhas and Tarit - both unemployed - started dreaming of a better future.

But months turned to years and nothing happened, even though Vajpayee soon took the prime minister's chair.

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