Netaji’s daughter urges govt to bring back his mortal remains

New Delhi: A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to unveil the statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at India Gate, his daughter Anita Bose Pfaff has urged the Indian government to bring back his mortal remains from Tokyo for “final disposal”. She said: “I feel his remains should at least touch the soil of India and bring closure to the matter. A closure was denied my late mother Emilie Schenkl… and I hope that it will not be denied to me as well.”

Netaji died 77 years ago in an aircrash on the island of Formosa (now Taiwan), but his death remains shrouded in mystery as many of his followers refuse to believe this. There are several stories floating around Netaji’s death and some even claim that he lived in India in anonymity to escape charges and punishment by the British government. One such theory is of “Gumnaami Baba”, who lived in Ayodhya as a sadhu, something that the Indian government has refuted. However, none of these theories could explain why Netaji did not surface after India attained Independence in 1947.

Prime Minister Modi will unveil the statue of Netaji when he inaugurates the newly-built Central Vista on Thursday. Anita will not be there to attend the New Delhi event on Thursday but said in a statement from Germany on Wednesday that there is no more mystery now related to Netaji’s death as it has been established that he died in an aircrash. However, if the Indian government wishes, an authoritative DNA test can be done on the remains of her father in Tokyo to establish his identity, she added.

“I am gratified to note that a statue of my father Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will be unveiled on 8 September 2022 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will occupy pride of place in New Delhi. My father fought selflessly for the freedom of India. He sacrificed and lost a lot — ultimately his life — in the pursuit of Indian independence. He was a shining example of dedication to the whole of India and all his countrymen and countrywomen. Whether as President of the Indian National Congress or leader of the Provisional Government of Free India and the Indian National Army, he upheld in no uncertain manner communal harmony, Indian unity as well as the emancipation of women and the downtrodden people,” Anita said in a statement.

“In this celebratory moment for the family and the followers of my father’s ideals, when free India is recognising his valour and heroism by installing his statue at a most central and prestigious location in the heart of the Indian capital, I wish to remind Indians that my father’s mortal remains are still lying in Tokyo and have not been brought home to India for a final disposal for over 77 years,” Anita added.

She further said that Netaji died in a plane crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945. In 2015-16 the Indian government under Prime Minister Modi declassified all the yet-classified files of the Government of India pertaining to Netaji, thus making available to the public additional facts regarding his death in Taipei on August 18, 1945. Anita noted that the government, in a reply under the Right to Information Act, had confirmed the evidence and record in the files.

“Such steps should have removed any doubts about what happened to my father and ended the previous controversy once and for all. However, if the Government of India insists, an authoritative DNA test can be attempted on the remains, even though this is not really necessary in view of the evidence available. Besides, it may not be easy to obtain DNA material from cremated remains. It was my father’s s ambition to experience a free India. Tragically his untimely death denied him this wish. I feel his remains should at least touch the soil of India and bring closure to the matter. A closure was denied my late mother Emilie Schenkl … and I hope that it will not be denied to me as well. Therefore, I appeal to the people of India and to all Indian political parties, to unite in an apolitical and bipartisan manner to bring my father’s mortal remains to India. I should be happy to visit India at the convenience of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as leading persons of the ruling and Opposition parties to discuss facilitating the transfer of my father’s remains to India,” Anita said in her statement.

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