New Delhi: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's daughter Dr Anita Bose Pfaff wants a DNA test to be conducted to establish whether the ashes kept in a Japanese temple are her father's, but believes that the 1945 aircrash in Taipei was the "most likely cause" of his death.
"I believe that the plane crash is the most likely cause of his death," Pfaff said when asked whether she believes in the theory that her father died in an air crash near the Taihoku aerodrome in Taipei on August 18, 1945.
However, she said she wants a DNA test of the ashes kept in an urn at a Buddhist temple in Tokyo to ascertain whether the remains belong to the freedom fighter.
"A DNA test could provide proof, provided that the bones are not too badly charred for extracting DNA," Pfaff, the only child of Subhash Bose and Emilie Schenkl, told PTI in an interview from her home in Stadtbergen, Germany.
Bose family sources said the 73-year old German economist, who is likely to visit India next month, may urge the government here to talk to Japan for conducting DNA test of the remains kept in the Renkoji temple in Tokyo. On whether the recently declassified documents sufficiently proved Netaji's death in the aircrash, Pfaff said "while I have only looked at a few files, I get the impression that a death certificate is not contained."
Asked about her opinion that Bose was not treated with as much respect as were leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, Pfaff said: "That certainly seems to be the case for the official treatment.
"But the general public, the so-called man in the street, however, seem to have kept his memory alive in a very touching way. It was a shame how the Indian government treated the INA veterans for decades." To a question about Nehru's approach towards Bose, she merely said, "Since their relationship lasted over many years, it was multi-faceted, I imagine. In many aspects they held similar views, in others their views differed."
Asked about her reaction to Nobel laureate Amartya Sen's recent remark that Netaji's death has been used for "petty politics", Pfaff said, "On the part of some people this is true, according to my opinion.
"However, many of his relatives such as my uncles and my mother very genuinely wished that he might have survived the crash or not been in it. Their love for him made the acceptance of his death too hard to bear."
Reacting to the declassification of Netaji files by the Centre and West Bengal government and whether these documents would help solve the mystery behind the legendary freedom fighter's "disappearance", she said was "indeed happy".
"It was high time. Most likely we shall find out that for 90 per cent of the files there has been no reason whatsoever not to declassify them decades ago. I rather doubt that the declassified files will reveal anything very spectacular about my father's death," she said. She said she agreed with the view that declassification should have been done much earlier.
On whether Netaji's birthday should be declared a national holiday, she said, "I believe there are better ways of keeping Netaji's memory alive than a national holiday." On whether she has any plan to pen a book on her father, she said, "I did not have the good fortune to know him personally beyond the age of four weeks. I cannot say much about him. But together with my niece and other women in our family, I have plans to write a book about my mother."
Anita, a former Professor of Economics at the University of Augsburg, is married to Prof Martin Pfaff, who was a member of German Parliament Bundestag, representing the SPD or the Social Democratic Party. They have three children - Peter Arun, Thomas Krishna and Maya Carina.