Sugata Bose was only 11 when Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s sword was taken to Delhi for a visit by train and he still remembers the huge crowds that gathered at stations as “the relic wound its way across the Gangetic plain”.
Bose, Netaji’s grand nephew and chairperson of Netaji Research Bureau, recounted how the sword was taken from Delhi station in a “gigantic procession” to Red Fort, where it was received by then President Zakir Hussain, Vice-President V.V. Giri and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
He was speaking at Netaji Bhawan on Sunday on the occasion of Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary.
“In December 1967, Netaji’s sword was taken on a visit to Delhi’s Red Fort. I travelled in the train with my father (Sisir Kumar Bose) on that memorable journey. I watched in wonder as huge crowds gathered at Patna, Mugalsarai, Allahabad, Kanpur, Ghaziabad and smaller wayside stations as the relic wound it’s way across the Gangetic plain,” said Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University.
“From Delhi station the sword was taken in a gigantic procession to Red Fort with thousands of people lining the streets and showering flowers from balconies and treetops along the way,” he said.
Bose quoted Prime Minister Gandhi as saying: “His slogan was ‘Onward to Delhi’. He himself could not reach Delhi but his sword has come here today and we welcome it warmly. I can still remember when we were young and we looked into his inspired eyes, our hearts also filled up with fervour. We can therefore well understand how and with what fervour he organised the Azad Hind Fauj.”
Bose, who spoke on “Netaji and Japan” on Sunday, said that in March 1967 he had witnessed a solemn ceremony held “exactly at this venue.”
“The atmosphere was electric as the Indian army band played Sare Jahan Se Acha…. General Fujiwara of Japan presented Netaji’s sword to Dr Sisir Kumar Bose. The writing on the original box… (written in Japanese) means destroy evil and establish justice,” Bose said.
He said that in the autumn of 1944, information trickled down unofficially that the Japanese government wanted to confer a title Order of the Rising Sun of the First Merit on Netaji. The Japanese foreign office in their record said: “When the Independence of India became a reality, he (Netaji) would be glad to receive it (the award) along with his followers. For the time being he would like to set it aside.”
On Sunday, the Netaji Award 2022 was conferred on Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, who had visited Netaji Bhawan in 2007.
His message was read out during the programme which was streamed online.
Sumantra Bose, the director of Netaji Research Bureau, spoke on “Krishna Bose, the pioneering Netaji researcher”.