On the occasion of 75th anniversary of Subash Chandra Bose’s hoisting of the national flag at Port Blair, PM Modi announced the renaming of three islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The Ross Island was changed to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Island, Neil Island to Shahid Dweep and Havelock Island to Swaraj Dweep, to pay tribute to Subhash Chandra Bose and India National Army’s officers, for their efforts against the British colonial rule in India.
Reacting to this, UK daily The Telegraph has labelled the move as a campaign by “Hindu nationalist government” and Bose as a “radical Hindu nationalist”. The author of the piece, Rahul Bedi, wrote that the move is nothing but a move to dissociate India from its colonial past. He even called the Indian National Army as a ”rag-tag” army, meaning an unorganised and weak one. The author cited opposition parties saying that changing the names of places is part of BJP’s vendetta politics.
“Opposition parties have accused the BJP of ‘seeking revenge on India’s history’ through such name changing, which they also claim is an attempt by Hindu nationalist to extended their cultural and political influence.” the article read.
“By celebrating the 1857 mutiny as crushing of the Indian people, the article seems to try and nullify the struggle, the passion, zest and patriotism that had bubbled and has always been celebrated within India as the first sign of breaking from the shackles of British rule.” Major Gaurav Arya wrote in response to the article which mentioned that the Havelock Island (now Swaraj Island) was named after an officer who helped suppress the 1857 sepoy mutiny. The 1857 mutiny is regarded as India’s first concrete attempt to overthrow the British Raj and also known as India’s First War of Independence.
Grandnephew of Subash Chandra Bose, Chandra Kumar Bose has vehemently condemned the author and his article. He has demanded punishment for the author for distorting Bose’s history and airing his colonial propaganda. Chandra also accused the author of being a stooge of Congress party and the British empire, to create hurdles in the efforts of NDA government.
“Under the NDA government and under the leadership of Narendra Modi ji, we are making efforts to correct the distortion of history, and here’s this writer who is a stooge of the Congress party and the British who is making a deliberate attempt to distort the history,” Chandra said while speaking to Republic TV.
Nephew of Subash Chandra Bose Ardhendu Bose also wrote that the article could be propaganda by an Indian political party as elections are nearing. He also said that it is an attempt to whitewash history and keep people unaware about efforts of Bose in the freedom struggle.
“Netaji Subhas Bose was probably one of the most secular persons to have been born in India. Our secular beliefs originated from our grandfather — Netaji’s father — Janakinath Bose. To this day our family practices secularism! And we are not radicals.” Ardhendu stated.
The author Rahul Bedi accused BJP government of toeing the lines of RSS, while re-naming cities like Allahabad and Mughal Sarai. He added that RSS has been banned twice for its extremist beliefs and wrote those same beliefs motivated the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.