Sunday, October 29, 2006


The man who claimed to be Netaji dies
Guna : A man, believed to be nearly 125 years old, claimed he was Subhash Chandra Bose shortly before he died two days ago in a village near Guna in Madhya Pradesh. The police have launched a preliminary probe.

Baba Lalji Maharaj, who was living in Saiji village in Ashok Nagar district for the past 30 years, claimed before he died on October 27 that he was the iconic freedom fighter Netaji, ex-sarpanch G S Raghuvanshi said.

"We were returning from a hospital after getting him treated when he revealed his identity and asked us to keep it a secret till his final rites were performed," Raghuvanshi said.

Before coming to Saiji, the man had lived in neighbouring Chak Chiroli village for 20 years and nobody there was aware of his identity, he said.

On several occasions, people had asked the man who he was. "But Baba used to say that if he revealed it, the place will be flooded with people," Raghuvanshi said.

When asked about deep scars on his head and body, he would reply that he had sustained the injuries when he fell from a plane, he said.

Baba, who ran an ashram, always rubbished reports about Bose's death.

Soon after information about Baba's claim was received, police officers were sent to Saiji to verify facts, Ashok Nagar's superintendent of Police Anil Gupta said. If some concrete evidence is found, a further probe will be carried out, he said.

Baba, who occasionally made trips to undisclosed locations, probably in Delhi, was buried according to his wishes at a spot selected by him about a week ago, Raghuvanshi said.

As word about Baba's claim spread, people thronged Saiji as local police station in-charge, Kavindra Pal Singh Chouhan, reached the ashram to collect evidence about the issue.

"If the need arises, his body will be exhumed to confirm the claims," Chouhan told reporters.

Meanwhile, several books related to Buddhism, old train and bus tickets, old newspaper clippings about Bose and photographs were found at Baba's ashram, officials said.

Investigating officers believe the materials found in the ashram will give valuable clues about Baba's identity.


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