New Delhi: While his death is still shrouded in mystery and stories around his disappearance now part of popular folklore, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s family and those closely researching his life and work say the way to truly honour him is by following his ideology of inclusivity and secularism and to once and for all unveil the suspense surrounding his demise.
The Union government on Friday had announced that a grand statue of Bose, the founder of Azad Hind Fauj’, will be installed at India Gate in the national capital as a symbol of India’s “indebtedness” to him.
Till the statue, made of granite, is completed, a hologram statue of his would be present at the same place, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced, adding that he will unveil the hologram statue on January 23, the birth anniversary of Bose.
“My father dreamt of an India where all religions coexist peacefully. The statue shouldn’t be the only tribute to Netaji, we must also honour his values,” Anita Bose-Pfaff said hours after the announcement was made by Modi.
Bose’s grand-nephew Chandra Kumar Bose urged the government to implement the freedom fighter’s ideology in the country.
“Netaji cannot be honoured just by building his statue, setting up a museum, or making a tableau. A towering personality like Netaji can only be honoured by following and implementing his inclusive ideology of uniting all communities to build India that he envisioned,” he said.
While it is believed that Bose died more than 70 years ago, questions regarding the circumstances of his demise — the time, year, and location of his passing away — are still shrouded in mystery.
In fact, the TMC has demanded that the Centre declassify files on Bose’s disappearance in 1945, and said that ashes preserved at a temple in Japan, believed to be that of the freedom fighter, should be sent for DNA analysis.
Anuj Dhar, who has closely researched Bose’s life and the mystery of his death and co-authored Conundrum: Subhas Bose’s Life After Death, told PTI that while the location of the statue in the heart of the national capital was a magnificent tribute to the iconic leader, it was time to unravel the mystery behind his death.
“The statue will be at the heart of Delhi and is the greatest tribute to Netaji’s legacy. The cumulative findings of all that has been released so far on him is that he was the reason that India became free. We expect that in time to come the issues surrounding his death will be addressed.
“In fact, never has the time been so good for the declassification of all the files. For the first time, both the government at the Centre and that in the state are not hostile to Netaji. They are on the same page on the issue. The TMC has also demanded the declassification of files on Netaji’s disappearance in 1945 and his death,” Dhar said.
Chandrachur Ghose, the author of Bose, The Untold Story of an Inconvenient Nationalist and co-author of Conundrum: Subhas Bose’s Life After Death, agrees that the installation of the statue has symbolic importance as it is an official acknowledgment of Bose’s position in the pantheon of freedom fighters.
“The treatment accorded to Netaji in independent India has had two aspects. Firstly, always marginalised, official recognition was never given to the fact that the exit of the British Raj was accelerated by his activities. Secondly, successive governments have kept the question of his fate under wraps. Even the current NDA government, which was vociferous on this issue against the previous government, has strangely decided to follow the UPA line.
“Now that the first issue has been addressed by giving his statue the pride of place, making clear his position in the pantheon of national icons, it is time to address the second issue, Ghose said.
The NDA government must re-open the case of Netaji’s fate and bring closure to it by declassifying all intelligence files and appointing a multi-disciplinary empowered committee if necessary. The controversy over this mystery should not be allowed to linger on,” he added.
While historians would want the politics around Bose to take a backseat, the announcement of the installation of the statue has sparked a fresh spat on his life.
“Perhaps we will take some time to realise how stupendous this act is of installing Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose to the pedestal where the statue of King Emperor George V once stood. Perhaps the PM’s detractors have understood. That is why they are bleating, ‘playing politics’! said BJP leader and former Governor of Meghalaya and Tripura Tathagata Ray.
“Ever since Haripura Congress in 1938, and then his falling out with Mohandas Gandhi, the mainstream politicians of India have only been running down Netaji. This is the first time his greatness is being brought to the notice of the nation,” he added.
TMC Rajya Sabha MP Jawhar Sircar questioned if the BJP was trying to “hijack” Bose.
“If Modi is so keen to hijack a staunchly secular Netaji let him first adopt the 3 ideals Bose set for his Azad Hind Fauj: Itmad’ ( Faith’), Ittefaq’ ( Unity’) and Kurbani (Sacrifice).
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