Bhubaneswar, Sep 21: Anil Dhir, researcher on Netaji Subash Bose and author of the book “Chalo Delhi,” has written to the Chief Minister of Odisha, asking him to divulge if the Government of Odisha, has in its possession any Secret Files on Netaji and the INA veterans.
Dhir had taken up the cause of Laxmi Panda, the forgotten INA veteran from Jeypore, Kpraput and ensured that the President of India had bestowed the Rasthriya Swantantrata Sainik Samman, the highest freedom fighter title, on her in 2008.
Dhir had, during his research on the INA, especially for certifying and proving Laxmi Panda’s contribution and the truth of her claims travelled all over the country and met more than 150 INA veterans. He had accessed many documents at the National Archives, Netaji Research Bureau, and The INA Museum at Seelamgarh Fort in Delhi etc. According to him, all State governments had kept tabs on the activities of the disbanded and released INA soldiers. Dhir says that more than 1500 Odias had served in Netaji’s valiant Army. Laxmi Panda was just one of them. Many had died in the battlefield, but most of them returned home and led miserable lives of ignominy and neglect.
Many INA veterans had applied for jobs at the under construction Hirakud Dam being built at Sambalpur. The government had refused to employ them, citing vague reasons. It was the late Biju Patnaik who has intervened and got them employed. In fact Laxmi Panda’s husband too had been employed as a driver at the dam site.
When the Orissa Military Police was formed in 1946, many INA veterans had applied, but all their applications had been turned down. In spite of their track record of military services, not one single INA Odia was taken in the new wing of the Police. In fact, Gorkhas were inducted in March 1948, but the INA Odias were ignored. This was a gross injustice meted out to them.
He had also gathered data that the INA Association of Odisha, which had its headquarters at Hinjlikatu, was kept under surveillance by the Orissa Police Intelligence Wing from 1948 to an unspecified period.
Dhir has asked the CM that the “West Bengal government has taken a first step, I request you to please release all and any Secret files that were maintained on Netaji and his INA veterans. If the government of Odisha does not have any files, let this be known to the public. As the birthplace of this great patriot, the State of Odisha owes him this much.”