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Fake Netaji relics at Victoria Memorial exhibition?

Victoria Memorial is under the administrative control of Union Ministry of Culture

Netaji-Birth-Anniversary5 Representative image | Salil Bera

Netaji's grandnephew Sugata Bose has questioned the authenticity of some relics at an ongoing exhibition at the Victoria Memorial here, commemorating the 125th birth anniversary of the legendary freedom fighter.

Bose, also the chairperson of Kolkata-based Netaji Research Bureau, has written to Victoria Memorial curator Jayanta Sengupta on Saturday, saying the museum authorities had never asked for a copy of the letter of freedom fighter's resignation from the Indian Civil Service.

He urged the Victoria Memorial authorities to "immediately take down the fake copy" and said "more shockingly Netaji Research Bureau is mentioned as the source below this fake" item.

The Harvard University professor also claimed the authentic photocopy of the letter of Netaji's resignation from the ICS has been with the bureau for about 50 years.

"You never asked us for Netaji's resignation letter or anything else and we supplied nothing to you directly. Sisir Kumar Bose and Krishna Bose had found Netaji's original letter of resignation in his own handwriting and signed by him to the Secretary of State for India in the India Office of Records of London in September 1971.

"They obtained an authentic photocopy which was published in facsimile for the first time in Krishna Bose's book 'Itihaser Sandhane' and has been displayed in the Netaji Bhawan for nearly 50 years," Bose said in the letter.

"You should also investigate who produced the fake item as it is extremely embarrassing that the Prime Minister of India inaugurated the exhibition with the fake item on display," he said.

Bose also asserted that the photographs "apparently displaying Netaji disguised as Md Ziauddin are also fakes".

No photographs of Netaji in disguise were taken or allowed to be taken during his "mahanishkraman" or the great escape, the research bureau chief claimed.

"While it appears that the originals of many photographs and facsimiles of letters and documents exhibited by you are indeed from the archives of Netaji Research Bureau collected with the dedicated effort of more than six decades, Victoria Memorial never contacted NRB to seek help with your exhibition.

"I am puzzled therefore about the basis on which you have given acknowledgements," Bose mentioned in the letter.

Expressing his disappointment over Victoria Memorial's conduct in mounting the exhibition, Bose said, "This is no way to honour our great leader."

The Victoria Memorial is under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Culture.

The curator of the museum could not be contacted for comment despite several attempts.

No one from the ministry was available for comment.

The Netaji Research Bureau chairperson told PTI on Sunday that he has so far not received any response from the Victoria Memorial authorities on the issue.

'Nirbhik Subhas'(Irrepressible Subhas), a multimedia exhibition, celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji began at the Victoria Memorial for the public from January 28.

"The exhibition contains 125 stories on Netaji in celebration of his 125th birth anniversary," the museum authorities had earlier said.

"These stories are shared through 125 original artefacts, pictures, replicas and objects sourced from across the world, making the viewer reflect on Netaji's ideals and beliefs in contemporary times," it added.

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