(This story was first published on 7 March 2018 and has been reposted from The Quint's archives to mark the day when Subhas Chandra Bose was arrested in Kolkata in 1940.)
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“My intention is to lay to rest this controversy that has dragged on for more than 70 years,” says Ashis Ray firmly.
Ray’s book Laid To Rest: The Controversy Over Subhas Chandra Bose’s Death is titled self-explanatorily – it is a compilation of the veteran journalist’s 30 years of research into the death of a national hero.
Here’s the thing: If you grew up a Bengali, or ever lived in Bengal, or were at all an avid reader of the Bose chapters in Indian history, chances are you grew up on a diet of schemes and stories. Some of these claimed he never died in the plane crash in Taipei in 1945; and several declared he’d escaped and returned to India as the robed-and-swathed ‘Gumnami Baba’ .
"His ashes are in Tokyo in a temple – and they deserve to be brought to India. Because, otherwise, it’s a disrespect to his memory and it also dishonours the sentiments of his sole heir, his daughter Anita Bose Pfaff." - Ashis Ray, Author
Ray spent a considerable number of years in Vienna with Netaji’s wife Emilie Schenkl (who has now passed away) and his daughter Anita, and urges – through his book – that their wishes be honoured above all else.
"She (Anita) is the sole authority on the matter, and her wish is that her father’s ashes be brought back to the country and be immersed in the river Ganga. This is something that the people of India – and the government of India – must respect."
Ray reiterates that every single Indian government has actually always maintained that Netaji died in the plane crash on 18 August 1945. “This includes the present government of Narendra Modi,” he reminds the reader. He tells The Quint:
"It is only a motley group who believe otherwise, and they need to be persuaded, gently, so that Bose can be brought home."
Ashis Ray’s book details the 11 different investigations into Bose’s death, all of whom reached the same conclusion – and seeks to answer every question every curious citizen has ever had about the man.
(‘Laid to Rest’ has been published by Roli Books and is priced at Rs 595)
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