Netaji’s ashes yet to return: Lack of political will hampering our sacred duty

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New Delhi, Aug 15, 2020-

London-based author Ashis Ray says that it is an unspeakable tragedy that while Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is widely revered in India, his countrymen have not had the decency to bring back his last remains to India even after 75 years of his death.

Ray is the author of the book, “Laid to Rest: The Controversy over Subhas Chandra Bose’s Death” and a chronicler of Netaji. Bose’s 75th death anniversary is on August 18.

Ray told in an interview that Netaji’s ashes are preserved at Tokyo’s Renkoji temple.

“Misguided members of Bose’s extended family in India, people ignorant about the subject and motivated mischief-makers prevented Jawaharlal Nehru and P.V. Narasimha Rao — two prime ministers who wanted to bring the remains back to India — from doing so,” Ray said.

Ray said that scare-mongering by Indian intelligence agencies — who warned of riots in Kolkata — is one of the reasons for governments not having the courage to bring the remains back.

He disclosed that the Japanese government has indicated that if the Indian government makes a request, it will without any hesitation hand over Netaji’s last remains to India.

“Therefore, all New Delhi needs to do is to make a request to Japan,” Ray added.

Q: With Netaji’s 75th death anniversary just three days away, the closure on his death still remains elusive?

A: This is an unspeakable tragedy.

Subhas Chandra Bose was one of the stars of the Indian freedom movement. He sacrificed his life for the country’s Independence. He is widely revered in India; yet the people of India have not had the decency to bring his last remains to India even after 75 years of his death.

Can anything be more disrespectful? Can there be a greater injustice? His wife Emilie Schenkl lived for 50 years after his death; but wasn’t granted the comfort of closure in the matter.

Q: Where are his ashes?

A: His ashes are preserved at Tokyo’s Renkoji temple. Netaji died after a plane crash in Taipei. His body was cremated there; and his last remains then hand-carried to Tokyo, where after a memorial service in September 1945 at Renkoji temple, they have remained there ever since.


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Q: What are the issues if any in bringing his ashes back to India?

A: Misguided members of Bose’s extended family in India, people are ignorant about the subject and are motivated by mischief-makers who prevented Jawaharlal Nehru and P.V. Narasimha Rao – two prime ministers who wanted to bring the remains to India – from doing so.

Q: Why have successive governments ignored the plea of his daughter Professor Anita Pfaff?

A: Scare-mongering by Indian intelligence agencies, who warned of riots in Kolkata, is one of the reasons for governments not having the courage to bring the remains to India.

This is a red herring. No educated, intelligent Indian — once presented with the facts – will ever oppose the import of Netaji’s remains to India.

On the contrary, they will rejoice at the move. Professor Pfaff’s plea is her father’s ambition was to return to a free India. Since this did not happen, at least his remains should touch the soil of India. Secondly, she feels there should be a final disposal of her father’s remains as per Bengali Hindu tradition or an immersion in the River Ganga.

The Government of India is legally and morally bound to accede to her wishes — Bose’s only child and heir — but it has sadly not done so yet.

Q: What does the Indian government need to do to enable the transfer of the remains?

A: The Japanese government has indicated that if the Indian government makes a request, it will without any hesitation hand over the remains to India. Therefore, all New Delhi needs to do is to make a request to Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is an admirer of Bose. I am confident he will happily oblige.

Q: What is the significance of his last remains reaching India?

A: Bringing Bose’s remains to India with due honour will amount to a symbol of the Indian people’s respect for the memory and soul of a great son of the nation.

Q: What is holding up this process?

A: A lack of a political will on the part of the Centre and the present Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee is holding up what is a sacred duty of Indians. It is for heroes like Bose that Indians today are a free people.

Q: Conspiracy theories around his death still crop up from time to time?

A: Conspiracy theories are a nonsense. They are politically motivated and have been wholly debunked. Narendra Modi declassified all Government of India files pertaining to Bose in 2016.

Japan, Russia and Britain have done the same over the years. The files irrefutably confirm Bose’s death in a Japanese military hospital in Taipei following the accident, the cremation of his body and the secure chain of transfer of his remains to Tokyo and finally to Renkoji temple.

My book “LAID TO REST” comprehensively documents the evidence based on 11 different investigations – four by Indians, three by the British, as many by the Japanese and one by the Taiwanese.  (Agency)


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