PORT BLAIR, Jan 23 (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday virtually unveiled the model of a proposed memorial dedicated to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, to be set up in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and said it will infuse feelings of patriotism among people.
Modi, on the occasion of Netaji’s 126th birth anniversary, also named 21 islands of the Union Territory after Param Vir Chakra awardees.
“Today, it is a proud moment for me as I address the people of Andamans because this is the land where Subhas Chandra Bose unfurled the national flag for the first time in 1943,” the Prime Minister said.
The freedom fighter had hoisted the Tricolour in the archipelago on December 30, 1943.
PM Modi noted that the islands, named after famous soldiers, including Major Somnath Sharma, Lt. Colonel (then Major) Dhan Singh Thapa, Subedar Joginder Singh, Major Shaitan Singh, Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid, 2nd Lt. Arun Khetrapal and Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, will be a source of inspiration for generations to come.
“It gives me immense pleasure to announce the naming of 21 islands after Param Vir Chakra awardees and to inaugurate the model of a proposed memorial at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Island (previously known as Ross Island).
“One should see the naming of 21 islands as ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ and the memorial will infuse feelings of patriotism in the hearts of people,” he said.
PM Modi also mentioned that islands named earlier in the day after Param Vir Chakra awardees “will be the land of inspiration for generations to come”.
The Prime Minister said that attempts were made to “downplay” Netaji’s contribution to the freedom movement, but the entire country, right from Delhi and Bengal to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is paying tribute to the great hero today, preserving history and heritage associated with him.
“Attempt was made to suppress Netaji’s contribution towards the freedom struggle, but the entire nation is remembering him today. Netaji will be remembered for his fierce resistance to colonial rule. I am deeply influenced by his thoughts,” PM Modi said.
He also pointed out that demands to make Netaji’s files public were made by many for a long time, and it was his government which eventually declassified the files.
“There were demands to make Netaji’s secret files public and we did so while respecting his sacrifice for the country,” PM Modi said.
The proposed memorial whose model the Prime Minister inaugurated during the day will be set up on Ross Island, which had been renamed as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Dweep in 2018. Neil Island and Havelock Island were also rechristened as Shaheed Dweep and Swaraj Dweep.
Referring to the rechristening of the islands, PM Modi also stated that these islands were earlier associated with signs of slavery.
“Therefore, we decided to rename these islands,” he said.
Highlighting the tourism potential of the archipelago, the PM said, the Centre has identified various opportunities in Andamans in the last eight years, and worked hard to make this place a “must-visit for people” across the globe.
“Several steps were taken, including laying of optical fibre for better internet connectivity and many more initiatives will be taken in future…Not only for beautiful beaches, but people are also now visiting Andamans to learn our history (of freedom struggle).”
The memorial will have a museum, a cable car ropeway, a laser-and-sound show, a guided heritage trail through historical buildings and a theme-based children’s amusement park, besides a restro lounge, an official said.
Earlier, Union home minister Amit Shah lauded the initiative to christen the 21 islands, and said this effort will be a source of encouragement for the country’s armed forces.
He also said that the cellular jail in the Union Territory, where many freedom fighters were incarcerated, is no less than a “pilgrimage site”.