Netaji’s secretary waits to hand over ‘legacy’ to India (With Images)

January 23rd, 2009 - 1:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS) As the nation remembers Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 112th birth anniversary Friday, his old aide in Thailand is trying desperately to hand over to India two pistols belonging to the freedom fighter and has sent his son to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. According to Seth Tarlok Singh Chawla, whose son is camping in New Delhi to meet the prime minister to get the job done, Netaji left two pistols with him a week before he was announced dead in a plane crash in August 1945.

The octogenarian, who worships the two pistols every day, said Netaji had handed the pistols to him before he left Bangkok for the last time saying: “See you in the Red Fort soon.”

The Colt .32 and FN .635 are still lying with Chawla, who was Netaji’s secretary in Thailand, and he is keen to see that the legacy is back with the country he fought for.

“He wanted me to return the pistols back to him at Red Fort after independence. However, eight days later he was announced dead in a plane crash in Taiwan. I still don’t believe he died then and I am still waiting for him. But with increasing age I think it his legacy and should be with the country he fought for,” Chawla told IANS over the phone from Bangkok.

His youngest son, Santokh Singh Chawla, arrived in India on Jan 20 to see that his father’s wish is fulfilled.

“I am on a mission; my father’s duty will be over once these pistols come to India, the country of Netaji’s origin and get the deserving honour. We feel the people of India should not be deprived of the right to see them,” said Santokh Singh, a realtor in Thailand and president of the Indo-Thai Friendship Association in Thailand.

In November last year his father wrote to the prime minister.

“And now I am here. We want the Indian government to approach the Thailand government to take them back. The Thai government has no problem in handing over Netaji’s legacy to India.”

In the 1970s, then prime minister Indira Gandhi asked Chawla during a visit to Thailand to give the pistols to the National Museum in Delhi.

“But my father did not agree because he was not willing to part with them for sentimental reasons. He still thinks Netaji will come back,” said Santokh Singh.

Indians in Thailand had played a crucial role in assisting Netaji when he was garnering support in Southeast Asia for India’ freedom.

“I know mystery and controversy still shrouds Netaji’s death but he was our hero in the freedom struggle. India should give all honour and respect to his legacy,” said Santokh Singh.

After the World War II broke out, Netaji fled from India and travelled to Japan, Germany and the Soviet Union seeking an alliance with the aim of attacking the British in India.

With Japanese assistance, he reorganised and later led the Indian National Army from Indian prisoners of war and plantation workers from Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia against the British forces. He is believed to have died on Aug 18, 1945 in a plane crash over Taiwan.

Many theories float about his death, with some believing that he was indeed killed that day and others, like Chawla, still hoping that he will return.

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