Historian Dr Sugata Bose: Those trying to distort history by projecting Netaji as the criminal Gumnami Baba are either fools or devils

Q: A film is being made on Gumnami Baba. What is your opinion on this?

Dr Sugata Bose: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had sacrificed his life for this country’s Independence… does anyone in that free India have the right to insult him? This is most unfortunate!

Q: The film’s director – one of the most popular directors in Bengal now – has said that it is based on the information of the Mukherjee Commission. The most popular actor in Bengal is playing the lead role. Why then do you call it an insult to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose?

Dr Sugata Bose: Whoever you are referring to as one of the most popular film directors in Bengal… and whatever he has been saying, it seems to me that he considers it his fundamental right to insult Netaji. I deeply condemn it as a historian and as a citizen of independent India. “Mukherjee Commission” is being used as a tag in order to escape legal complications – so it can be said that the film has been based within the framework of a judicial investigating procedure.

There’s a small ultra right group that has been doing business for two decades trying to pass off the criminal Gumnami Baba as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. And the film is based on a book that is a complete lie. One must remember that the eyewitnesses had given their statements before the Shah Nawaz Committee. Some had even given statements before the Khosla Commission. But most of the eyewitnesses had passed away by the time the Mukherjee Commission was constituted. Therefore the witnesses there were not really witnesses. Anyone could have told a fabricated story before the Commission.

My point is, any sensible person, if he has any doubt about the plane crash of August 18, 1945, would say that this is at least 99 per cent true. There are historical evidences to establish this. On the other hand, there is a completely fabricated story that has zero possibility. Anyone who gives these two equal importance is either a fool or a devil. What he is, I leave it to others to decide.

Q: You are talking about a time when we are surrounded by fake news and distortion of history. Are you trying to suggest that there is an attempt to bring Subhas Chandra Bose into that realm?

Dr Sugata Bose: Not just distortion of history. It is an insult to the people of Bengal. A criminal is being projected as Netaji to build up suspense. Nothing can be more shameful. It is an insult to Bengalis… it is an insult to art. I have heard that the curtain will be raised ahead of the Pujas. I believe the young generation will be intelligent enough to not be fooled by it.

Q: You are saying that a film is being made on the basis of distorted history. Those opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are alleging that there is an attempt to distort history and to present “fake facts” from the past all over the country. Under this backdrop, why do you think this is being done in Bengal?

Dr Sugata Bose: Actually, some directors from Tollygunge and actors are facing difficulties… When some illegal companies were flourishing, there was easy money… but not anymore. Therefore, before the Pujas, some cooked-up story packaged under history is being released to make some money. Never in my life have I witnessed such a huge insult to Netaji.

  1. The BJP has come back to power with a huge majority in the country. Many are saying that the idea of India is at stake, and around this time, you are not in Parliament. Don’t you think that you needed to defend the idea of India all the more now in exactly the way you had been doing so for the past few years?

Dr Sugata Bose: I may not be in active politics, but I am very much in public life. Some days back, I had said at the Sabarmati Ashram that “we are becoming unthinking worshippers of state power”. We are forgetting patriotism, and how to love our country. We have lost everything and are becoming unadulterated worshippers of state power. You can see how people are being stamped as anti-nationals.

  1. Will you be back with the Trinamool Congress?

Dr Sugata Bose: A cleansing process is on now, and I hope it can be done well. There is a need for a powerful opposition, and the opposition in this country right now are in a chaotic form.

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