Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday named the 21 largest unnamed islands of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands after 21 Param Vir Chakra awardees.
At an online event on the occasion of Subhas Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary, Modi also unveiled the model of a proposed memorial dedicated to Bose, to be set up in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Home Minister Amit Shah was present in Port Blair at the culmination of a seven-day event organised by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in honour of Netaji. Mr. Shah said that the 126th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is being celebrated as ‘Parakram Divas’ across the country.
“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,” Modi said.
“Islands named today after Param Vir Chakra awardees will be the land of inspiration for generations to come,” he said, adding that it is a message of the immortality of the sacrifices made for the country and the bravery and valour of the Indian Army.
Modi noted that the soldiers were from different states, spoke different languages and dialects, and lived different lifestyles, but the service of the country united them. “Like the sea connects different islands, the feeling of Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat unites every child of Mother India,” he said.
The islands have been named after Major Somnath Sharma, Subedar and Hony Captain (then Lance Naik) Karam Singh, 2nd Lt Rama Raghoba Rane, Nayak Jadunath Singh, Company Havildar Major Piru Singh, Capt G S Salaria, Lt Col (then Major) Dhan Singh Thapa, Subedar Joginder Singh, Major Shaitan Singh, CQMH Abdul Hamid, Lt Col Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore, Lance Naik Albert Ekka, Major Hoshiar Singh, 2nd Lt Arun Khetrapal, Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, Major Ramaswamy Parameswaran, Naib Subedar Bana Singh, Captain Vikram Batra, Lt Manoj Kumar Pandey, Subedar Major (then Rifleman) Sanjay Kumar, and Subedar Major (Honorary Captain) Yogendra Singh Yadav.
Earlier in the day, paying tribute to Bose on his birth anniversary, marked as Parakram Diwas, Modi said: “Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will be remembered for his fierce resistance to colonial rule. Deeply influenced by his thoughts, we are working to realise his vision for India.”
“Attempt was made to suppress Netaji’s contribution towards freedom struggle, but the entire nation is remembering him today,” he said. He said demands to make Bose’s files public were made by many for long, but it was his government which eventually declassified the files.
Mr. Shah said that the memories of the heroes could never be erased nor were they dependent on anyone’s mercy to live on. He added that Netaji would shine like the pole star in India’s history. He said Netaji was a great example of courage as he “travelled from Kolkata to Berlin by car through a terrain with a temperature of -45 degrees to liberate the nation”. “But unfortunately, many attempts were made to erase his memories,” Mr. Shah said.
“After Narendra Modi became Prime Minister he had a statue of Subhas Chandra Bose installed in Kartavya Path [in Delhi], he decided to celebrate Netaji’s birth anniversary as Parakram Divas. And he chose the same day to announce the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Island as his memorial to ensure that it’s developed in a manner that evokes deep respect for the great hero in the hearts of the people who set foot here for generations. I thank the Prime Minister from the bottom of my heart.”
He said in 2018, when Ross Island was named after Netaji, Neil Island renamed Shaheed Island and Havelock Island named Swaraj Island, it created a discourse around the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
“Some places are blessed to play a historic role. And the A&N islands were blessed to play a significant role in India’s Independence. After the revolt of 1857, when the Britishers began ruthless atrocities on India’s freedom fighters, they built Cellular Jail here. It was the land of the A&N Islands that consoled the hearts of the jailed freedom fighters like a mother does to her son in pain. And today, like me, many believe that this is not a jail but a great pilgrimage of India’s freedom struggle,” Mr. Shah said.
The proposed memorial will be set up on Ross Island, which was renamed as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep in 2018. It 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 name the 21 islands, and said this effort will be a source of encouragement for the country’s armed forces. The government said “the largest unnamed island will be named after the first Param Vir Chakra awardee, the second largest unnamed island will be named after the second Param Vir Chakra awardee, and so on.”
Meanwhile, President Droupadi Murmu tweeted: “On Parakram Diwas, we pay homage to one of the greatest sons of Bharat Mata, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Netaji epitomises exceptional courage and patriotism. Under his leadership, millions joined the struggle for India’s freedom. Indians will remain forever indebted to him.”