Rajeev Joseph
Features Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 05:30
On April 10 this year, the Indian government de-classified two files pertaining to the disappearance of ‘Netaji’ Subhas Chandra Bose, causing a major furore. On the same day at Kannur in Kerala, Netaji’s Indian National Army, which he had led from 1943 until his disappearance, was being revived. The man behind reclaiming the legacy- Rajeev Joseph.  Rajeev Joseph at the press meet in Kannur  The revamped INA though, will set about promoting religious harmony and peace, says its commander-in-chief. “Since I was fifteen, I’d heard a different story about Bose”, says Joseph. He believes that Netaji did not die in a plane crash as is popularly believed. In 1985, he read a newspaper report citing Bose’s presence in Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh and attempted to cycle all the way there. The effort failed, not because he couldn’t, as he claims to have cycled to Delhi from Kannur in the same year, a trip which he claims took him 23 days. “Phoolan Devi (the Bandit queen) had been apprehended in Gwalior at the time and thus I couldn’t”, he says, wistfully. Entranced by the idea of Netaji though, he began reading more about him and decided to go on a world bicycle expedition to spread the message of peace and disarmament. The event was flagged off by former President Shankar Dayal Sharma.  Shankar Dayal Sharma flagging off Rajeev's World Bicycle Expedition in 1985 “It was my secret mission”, he says, chuckling and adding that the government didn’t know entirely of his purpose which was to visit all the places along the route Bose was alleged to have taken. “I didn’t get proper support from the government though”, he adds. He couldn’t get to Germany and Russia but visited the Himalayas where Bose was rumoured to have been hiding.  He visited neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bhutan and Bose’s home in Kolkata as well. After the expedition, Joseph carried on with his research on Bose. He first planned on reviving the INA in 1987, an idea that has finally come to fruition now, 28 years later. He also met Bose’s family members and sought their blessing. On January 17 he met Professor Krishna Bose and Sugata Bose in Kolkata who gave him their blessings. “I had been trying to meet his family for 25 years now”, he says. With Professor Krishna Bose and Sugata Bose, (Bose's kin) January 17th is an important date for him. “It was on the same date, 74 years earlier that Bose had escaped Calcutta as it was then to revive the INA”, he says excitedly . The INA 3 is an “International Indian youth movement” which will set about promoting communal harmony and engage in rescue activities in cases of natural calamities. “We plan on holding programmes like inter-religious conventions”, he says. After its inception on July 4th, the INA 3 also plans on launching an ambulance service and will try getting “former Army officers and rescue officers to provide basic first-aid training to the volunteers”.  “The first battalion of 60 members in Kannur is ready”, says Joseph who also plans on starting operations in Calicut and Thiruvananthapuram. The battalion in Kannur will begin its training after July 4, the official date of the INA 3 launch, which will happen in Singapore. This date too carries significant mention, as Bose had re-invigorated the INA on the same date in 1943 in Singapore. “We’re trying to hire the same venue”, he says, with hope of holding the event at the iconic Cathay Building, which is now an auditorium, but was a theatre back then.  
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