Subhas Chandra Bose’s septuagenarian daughter, Anita Bose Pfaff, doesn’t understand why subsequent governments have been reluctant to sanction a DNA test on her father’s ashes, which are at a temple in Japan. She hopes Modi will do what other’s dared not to.
The first batch of the Bose papers have been declassified. Your observation.
I haven’t studied all the papers, but hadn’t I told you earlier, too, that nothing significant would be revealed? Just little details of interest to historians and academicians. But isn’t it more interesting to note that such unimportant and noncontroversial material was kept top secret for decades? Was it an administrative oversight or was there something more?
I doubt whether the rest of the papers will have anything scandalous or revealing either, though the most interesting stuff there would probably be revealed closer to elections.
The crash theory has been almost confirmed, but your family is still divided on it.
In a family as big as ours there are bound to be diverse views. I always believed the crash to be the most convincing cause of my father’s death, though I have always been open to another better explained idea.
My uncle Sarat didn’t believe my father died in the crash. At that time, there was such little information regarding the circumstances of my father’s disappearance that uncle’s hopes were high. He made my mother hope, too.
The papers reveal you were paid a monthly maintenance till your marriage, out of a trust Nehru managed.
Yes, this was no secret, though it may not have been widely known. My mother was initially reluctant to accept the money but our family convinced her to take it. Those were strained financial years for us and the money was certainly helpful. The payments stopped around the time of Nehru’s death, which also coincided with my marriage. As far as I can remember, there was no clause which said it had to be till I was married. But after Nehru’s death, the Congress split and the papers may have got misplaced. Later, a non-Congress government contacted me again for payment, but my husband and I were financially secure and we refused it.
What was your relationship with Nehru?
He was very warm personally, I stayed at his home during my first visit to India. Indira Gandhi was friendly, too.
But Nehru didn’t allow soldiers of the Azad Hind Fauj to join the Indian Army, though they fought for independence. There was his (Nehru’s) personal side and his political one. The Congress has always been wary of Bose’s political legacy.
Why didn’t you come to India when the papers were declassified?
I was invited by the Indian government and even promised a separate interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But, I am tied down with helping the refugees pouring into my country [Germany]. It may not seem a big deal to others, but if I can make a difference to even a few lives, it is important to me.
I am glad I didn’t come then as I would be just part of a circus. I hope to come to India in a few months, perhaps in February. I am told if I tell the PM's office in advance, he may make time to meet me, too.
Why do you want to meet him?
For various reasons, the most important regarding my father’s ashes at the Renkoji temple in Japan. I want a DNA test on it, to solve the mystery of his death forever, but the temple requires the sanction of the Indian government. You know that I wrote to Manmohan Singh regarding it, but he didn’t even reply to my letter.