President Pranab Mukherjee unveiled the restored German car on Wednesday, in which Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had made his great escape from his ancestral home in Kolkata in 1941 during his house arrest by the then British government.
Netaji had used ‘Audi Wanderer W24’ to escape from his Elgin Road residence to Gomoh railway station in Jharkhand to catch a train to Delhi.
The car was unveiled to commemorate the 76 anniversary of Netaji’s Great Escape as well as 60 anniversary of the Netaji Research Bureau (NRB) in Kolkata. The President unfurled the flag on car’s bonnet. West Bengal Governor Keshri Nath Tripathy as well as Sugata Bose, Netaji’s grand-nephew and also a Trinamool MP, were present at the event. “I must congratulate Krishna Bose and other members for undertaking the task of refurbishing the car which was used by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose for his great escape,” Mukherjee said.
The great escape is known as “Mahanishkraman” which depicts the story of leaving the house, its preparedness and the consequences, he said. Stating that Netaji’s life is a most emotive issue in political arena, the President said: “After long gap of his disappearance from India, he is still a centre of so many issues and sometimes many controversies.” Mukherjee talked about undaunted spirit of Sugata’s father, Sisir Kumar Bose, who was also at the wheels during Netaji’s escape from Kolkata.
“Netaji had asked him (Sisir) ‘Amaar ekta kar korte parbe?’ (can you do some work for me?) in 1940. Sisir Bose never stopped doing Netaji’s work until he passed away in 2000,” he said. “Many a times I have come here as a Bengali and as resident of Kolkata. Still I accepted the invitation because I thought I must associate at his momentous occasion of 60 anniversary of NRB and also 76 year of the great event performed by the great personality,” he added.
The German Wanderer sedan of 1937 make has been restored to its 1941 look by automobile giant Audi. The sedan was driven regularly until 1957 by Sugata’s father and later it was given to Netaji Research Bureau and kept for visitors there. The car was again driven briefly for the Japanese TV project in 1978.
A team of mechanics from Audi Kolkata started working in May 2016 to restore the iconic 4-door Audi’s (then Auto Union) Wanderer W24 to its former glory. It is the most prized possession of the Netaji Research Bureau museum. Netaji was said to be the first Indian to own an Audi vehicle in the country.