Book Review: Four Miles to Freedom


Having been born and brought up in independent India, most of us have no idea what freedom means. It can only be realised when you are captive and crave for freedom. The protective confines of our home don’t give an idea what it is to not be free. Four Miles to Freedom is the story of a brave Indian fighter pilot who fled from the Prisoners of War (PoW) camp in Pakistan. It is the real account of Flight Lieutenant Dilip Parulkar and a few of his companions back in 1971.

The author of this book, Faith Johnston is a Canadian writer. She felt inquisitive when she heard the story of his escape from Parulkar and decided to pen it down. There was a war in 1971, if you recall. The two parts of Pakistan – east and west – were involved in a bitter war over their rulers. General Yahya Khan of West Pakistan had sent soldiers in the east (erstwhile Bangladesh) to kill the Awami League supporters who wanted a separate Government of their own. India intervened and favoured the less privileged country which had its sons and brave soldiers mass murdered by the more powerful one.

Dilip Parulkar was on duty when his plane was shot down on 10th December 1971 and he was captured by the Pakistan army and held in a POW camp at Rawalpindi. This was a first for Parulkar as he had never been imprisoned before. The guards took them to the toilet when required and they were kept in separate cells. He was interviewed each day on various topics and later he came to know that Bangladesh had acquired independence from Pakistan on 16th December 1971. He met a few of his fellow pilots after several days and they were even treated on Christmas by a generous commander from Pakistan.

Days passed and Parulkar was contemplating escape with the others. It is interesting to read that one of Parulkar’s seniors back in India had predicted that given his character and spirit, he would definitely try to escape. This says volumes about what a fighter Dilip Parulkar is. They executed their plan using local attire and beards as disguise, though their accents were giveaway at times. It is an enchanting story that gives you goose bumps as you hope in every page of their escape.

Four Miles to Freedom is not just a story of a brave soldier, it is a testimony of inspiration and courage. The language is easy and lucid with alternate chapters in prison and in escape which makes it more interesting. It is recommended for every young reader to motivate them into success with grit.

Title: Four Miles To Freedom
Author: Faith Johnston
Publisher/ ImprintRandom House IndiaVintage Books
Pages: 182
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Non-Ficton/ Real Account
Rating: 4.50 of 5
Reviewed for: Publisher

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