Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar said that in today’s society, following Netaji’s ideals of religious integrity (sarva dharma samanvaya) would be paying the best respect to the great leader. [Photo SNS]
Family members of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, India’s iconic freedom fighter, still have some pending demands from the central government. Though the government has declassified all the files relating to his death, the remains of Netaji, which are lying at Renko-ji temple in Japan, still need to be brought home. His only daughter, Anita Bose Pfaff (79), wants to perform the last rites in India.

Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose has been vocal about the demands. In his chat with Ashok Chatterjee, he says that in today’s society, following Netaji’s ideals of religious integrity (sarva dharma samanvaya) would be paying the best respect to the great leader.

Q. On Neta ji’s 126th birth anniversary, the RSS celebrated at Shaheed Minar in Kolkata with Mohan Bhagwat as chief speaker. How do you see the developments?

A. Netaji was against Hindutva and he opposed RSS ideology. Netaji had written “you cannot expect anything from the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha for the freedom of our country”. It is being said that Netaji had met RSS leader KB Hedgewar and Savarkar. He might have. It was natural of a leader of his stature to meet such leaders. To respect Netaji one has to follow his ideals and RSS with its national presence can make it happen, I believe. But, if you are praising Savarkar and Syama Prasad Mukherjee then you cannot be paying respect to Netaji. Bhagwat has to prove through his actions that he is working towards religious integrity. If he manages to do that then we would appreciate it.

Q. We could see his religious integrity in his Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army)

A. If Netaji had to be properly respected then it has to be through his ideals. He propagated sarva dharma samanvaya. He is the only leader who managed to bring all religions together. Azad Hind Fauj had 60,000 soldiers, who were Indians first. But it was constituted of people from all religions and Netaji integrated all of them. I will cite an example. There were three kitchens running in his army, a Hindu, a Muslim and a Sikh one. But Netaji managed to bring them together and made it one. Today we see religious intolerance, communalism in India gaining currency. Different political parties, instead of stalling divisive politics, are unfortunately supporting it. If that happens then it cannot be paying respect to the tall leader. You cannot be a hypocrite.

Q. The government at the Centre has been working to give Netaji his due respect. Your views.

A. The common man has been celebrating Netaji’s birthday all these years. But from the government side there may not have done enough to give him the recognition he deserves or the ideals he stood for. Yes, the central government has done some credible work like a museum has come up at Lal Quila in New Delhi, which once housed Azad Hind Fauj barracks; two islands in Andamans have been named as Shaheed and Swaraj. These islands were visited by Netaji on 30 December 1943. He had unfurled the Indian flag there, which were still under Japanese domination but were handed over to the Azad Hind government. Another island, where Netaji had held his cabinet meeting, Ross island, was renamed as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep. On 8 September 2022, a granite statue of Netaji was established at India Gate. Another important thing this government did was declassify all the files related to his death. Now these files are in national archives and in public domain after our demand from the Open Platform for Netaji.

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