Centenarian Anjalai Ponnusamy, who once fought for India's independence alongside 'Netaji' Subhash Chandra Bose, has died.

According to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Indian Cultural Centre director Ramya Hiriyannaiah, the 102-year-old breathed her last at 5.59pm on Wednesday, with her daughter by her side.

Anjalai succumbed at a hospital in Sentul, where she had been admitted following a heart attack, Ramya told the Free Malaysia Today (FMT) news portal.

Ramya added that Anjalai was the the epitome of feminine power, and will serve as an inspiration for generations to come, in putting the nation first.

The grand old dame's passing even drew the attention of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who tweeted: "Anguished by the passing away of the distinguished Indian National Army veteran from Malaysia Anjalai Ponnusamy Ji. We will always remember her courage and inspiring role in India’s freedom movement. Condolences to her family and friends."
Separately, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin also offered his condolences over Anjalai's passing.

"The sacrifices of Anjalai Ponnusamy Ammal, who was an epitome of bravery, determination and dauntlessness, will be an ideal role model for women and she would occupy an ineffaceable space in India’s freedom struggle," Stalin reportedly said in a statement, said The Hindu.

Anjalai was living in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, with her father who was an anti-malaria supervisor, when she came across Indian women marching in uniform when the Japanese invaded Malaya.

The female soldiers belonged to the Rani of Jhansi Regiment - the Women's Regiment of the Indian National Army founded by Bose in 1943, to get rid of British rule in India during World War II.

Aged just 21 then, Anjalai decided to join their ranks, and was eventually sent to Singapore for basic military training, where she was trained to use rifles, the Tommy gun, and Sten gun, among others.

After World War II ended with Japanese defeat, the Indian National Army was disbanded and Anjalai returned home to Malaysia.

Nevertheless, Anjalai has had the privilege to witness both India and Malaysia obtain freedom from British rule, during her long, contended life.

During her 101st birthday last year, Anjalai was gifted an award from the then Indian High Commissioner, Mridul Kumar, for her contributions to Indian freedom.

Deepest condolences to Madam Anjalai's family. May her soul rest in peace.

Source: FMT, The Hindu
Photo FMT, The Star