India remembers Subhas Chandra Bose on 121st birth anniversary: Ram Nath Kovind Narendra Modi, Amit Shah pay tribute

On Tuesday, the 121st birth anniversary of 'Netaji' Subhas Chandra Bose, the country paid rich tributes to one of the key members of the Indian freedom struggle.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will pay floral tributes to Bose in Kolkata at 12.15 pm. Many dignitaries and thousands of people are expected to attend the ceremony on Tuesday, and Banerjee will address the gathering afterwards.

At the ceremony last year, Banerjee had said the "truth regarding Bose's disappearance" needs to come out. "We celebrate the birth anniversary of Netaji every year but we do not know about his disappearance. This is a tragedy," she had said. "We had declassified all Netaji files which were with the state government. Some files were there with the central government. Truth may come out if there was an investigation but unfortunately it did not happen," she said.

Subhas Chandra Bose. Reuters

File image of Subhas Chandra Bose. Reuters

She may bring up the issue again this year, especially considering she had expressed shock regarding the Centre's decision last year to respond to an RTI query by saying Bose died in a plane accident. "I am shocked to see this unilateral decision of the Central government without evidence," Banerjee had said in June last year. "Any matter involving a person of his stature does not deserve to be handled in such a casual manner."

The real date and nature of Bose's death remains shrouded in mystery. An RTI query was raised by one Sayak Sen, and responding to this, the central government said Bose died in a plane crash in Taiwan on 18 August, 1945, a report on The Economic Times said.

Born on 23 January, 1897 in Odisha, Bose was a member of the Indian civil services in England before returning to India, reported NDTV. The report said he joined the Indian National Congress initially, but ideological differences with "key figures from the party" forced him to resign. He also briefly served as the mayor of Calcutta in 1930.

He travelled across Europe through the 1930s, meeting high-profile leaders including Benito Mussolini, the report added. The British rulers placed him under house arrest in 1940. But two years later, in 1942, Bose formed the Indian National Army with help from Japan, which was also fighting the British in the World War II at the time. He set up base at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, then under the control of the Japanese forces.

However, in 1945, he died in mysterious circumstances and his body was never recovered. The circumstances of his disappearance meant repeated governments have set up committees probing the incident, but to no satisfactory conclusion.

A more prominent one of these was the Justice Mukherjee Commission, set up in 1999, led by Justice Manoj Mukherjee, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. After his inquiry, however, Justice Mukherjee controversially concluded that Bose did not die in the plane crash on 18 August 1945. This part of the conclusion of the report was rejected by the Union government, a report on The Quint mentioned.

Lawyer Chandreyi Alam said that Mukherjee had visited the Taipei airport and had found no documents in support of the crash theory, "Justice Mukherjee had personally visited the airport and the crematorium and had found no documents to corroborate the plane crash and the burning of a body on that particular day. Of the 131 witnesses deposed before the Commission, only seven said that they believed in the plane crash theory," she said.

Desh Prem Diwas

In the recently concluded Winter Session of Parliament, a demand was made to declare 23 January as 'Desh Prem Diwas' (Patriotism Day) and a national holiday.

Ritabrata Banerjee, who was recently expelled from the CPM, narrated the heroic tales of Bose and demanded that the government declare 23 January as 'Patriotism Day' and a national holiday as a fitting tribute to "the forgotten hero" of the Indian independence struggle.

Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu hoped the government will take note of the suggestion but went on to add that members should not be seen asking for holidays.

Tributes pour in

Several political parties and leaders, including the president, prime minister and vice-president of the country, remembered Bose on his birth anniversary.

The country's two major political parties, BJP and Congress, also posted their tributes on social media.

With inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Jan 23, 2018 09:06 AM

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