Netaji prison letters on display

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By LALMOHAN PATNAIK in Cuttack
  • Published 23.01.09
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Cuttack, Jan. 22: Letters written by Netaji to his father from prisons will become public tomorrow with a new gallery being thrown open at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Birthplace Museum here.

The letters on display include dispatches from Presidency Jail, Mandalay Central Jail, Rangoon and Insein jails between December 1921 and April 1927.

The correspondence with his father Janaki Nath shows that during these years Netaji’s “connection with outside world” was “practically cut off”. He was “not given any newspaper”. The new gallery with the “censored and released” letters has been modelled on a prison cell of his era.

With “prison life” as the theme, the exhibits reflect the writing practice of Netaji and the bond he shared with his father. On December 12, 1921, Subhas wrote from Presidency Jail: “I am prepared for the worst and I feel it would be a great privilege to be allowed to suffer for a cause which to me is dear.” He was then “confident that swaraj is at hand”.

While waiting for a definite diagnosis after undergoing different tests at Rangoon Central Jail on January 20, 1927, Subhas wrote: “The difficulty is that so far they have not been able to account for certain persistent symptoms — continued loss of weight, afternoon temperature, pain in the spine and night sweat.”

“What is Cuttack like this summer?” Subhas asked about his birthplace as he wrote from Mandalay jail on June 13, 1925. Between January 26, 1926, and May 21, 1926, he wrote four letters to his father from Mandalay jail querying about other members of the Bose family. On December 12, 1926, he was at Rangoon Central Jail, but by April 13, 1927, he was shifted to Insein jail.

“Apart from this new gallery, we are ready with three more to the existing eight ones. They will be inaugurated on his birth anniversary tomorrow,” museum curator J.P. Das said.

“The iron cot used by Subhas Chandra Bose is a new attraction displayed at one of the galleries added this year,” Das said. “The cot is embossed with the name of Johnson Company and its insignia of a rifle.” Among other exhibits are furniture and some rare photographs (in original frames) of the Bose family.