NEW DELHI — In two power-packed emotional statements — on India’s Independence Day and on the installation of Netaji Subhas Bose’s statue at India Gate — his daughter Anita Bose Pfaff wanted closure on her father’s myth and legacy.
In the second, she wrote with great verve and felicity on her father’s larger-than-life personality and how deeply ingrained he is in our psyche:
“I am gratified to note that a statue of my father Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will be unveiled on September 8, 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.
“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.
“He died as a result of a plane crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945. In 2015-16 the Indian Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi declassified all until then not yet declassified Government of India files pertaining to Netaji, thereby making available to the public additional facts regarding his death in Taipei on August 18, 1945.
“The same government in a reply under the Right to Information Act thereafter 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 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 the opposition parties to discuss facilitating a transfer of my father’s remains to India.”
In the first, Anita Bose Pfaff reiterated how she wanted closure on her father’s death by bringing back his ashes from Japan:
“75 years after India was able to throw off the shackles of colonial rule, the three states that were established on the Indian subcontinent celebrate the anniversary of that event.
“One of the most prominent heroes of the independence struggle, Subhas Chandra Bose, however, has not returned to his motherland as yet. Netaji, as his comrades-in-arms from the Indian National Army (INA) fondly and respectfully called him, fought for the independence throughout his life, within the country and from abroad.
“He sacrificed so much for this struggle — including his peace of mind, a family life, his career and, ultimately, his life!
“His countrymen and countrywomen thanked him for his dedication and his sacrifice. They erected numerous physical and spiritual monuments for him, thus keeping his memory alive to this day, in admiration, in gratitude and even in love. Another imposing monument has been erected and is being unveiled in a very prominent location in New Delhi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15th, 2022, the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.
“Motivated by their admiration and love for Netaji, some men and women in India not only remember Netaji, but they have continued to hope that he had not died on August 18, 1945, as the consequence of an aeroplane accident and that he would eventually be able to return to his independent motherland.
“But today we have access to the originally classified inquiries of 1945 and 1946. They show that Netaji died in a foreign country on that day. Japan has provided a ‘temporary’ home to his remains at Renkoji Temple in Tokyo, cared for in devotion by three generations of priests, and honoured by the Japanese people. Many Indians, including most of her Prime Ministers, have paid homage to Netaji and the INA there, as well.
“Modern technology now offers the means for sophisticated DNA-testing, provided DNA can be extracted from the remains. To those who still doubt that Netaji died on August 18, 1945, it offers a chance to obtain scientific proof that the remains kept at Renkoji Temple in Tokyo are his. The priest of Renkoji Temple and the Japanese government agreed to such a test, as the documents in the annexures of the last Indian investigation into Netaji’s death (the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry) show.
“So let us finally prepare to bring him home!
“Nothing in his life was more important to Netaji than his country’s independence. There was nothing that he longed for more than living in an India, free of foreign rule! Since he did not live to experience the joy of freedom, it is time that at least his remains can return to Indian soil.
“As Netaji’s only child I feel obliged to ensure that his dearest wish, to return to his country in freedom, will at last be fulfilled in this form and that the appropriate ceremonies to honour him will be performed.
“All Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, who can now live in freedom, constitute Netaji’s family! I salute you all as my brothers and my sisters! And I invite you to support my efforts to bring Netaji home!” — IANS