Officials began reopening the last two boxes bearing the belongings of Gumnami Baba, suspected by many to be Indian National Army leader Subhas Chandra Bose in disguise, in the presence of administrative committee members in Faizabad on Thursday.
Sources said these boxes – brought from Delhi – contained about 1,046 items, and the process of making an inventory may take two to three days. The listing of the items kept in the Faizabad treasury began on February 26 this year in compliance with a January 2013 high court order that the seer’s belongings be put on public display at the Ram Katha Sangrahalaya in Ayodhya.
The boxes were earlier opened and examined by the Justice MK Mukherjee Commission during the course of a 2001-06 inquiry to find similarities between Bose and the seer. They were then placed in the central archives at Delhi.
Until Wednesday, as many as 1,721 items from 24 boxes had been placed in the inventory made by the administrative committee, to be later handed over to the technical committee for chemical treatment, preservation and display.
Bose’s niece Lalita Bose and local BJP leader Shakti Singh, owner of Ram Bhawan (where the Baba spent the last days of his life) had pushed for implementation of the court’s order – efforts that ultimately culminated in the formation of a technical committee to oversee the process. The panel included Lucknow University professor of medieval history Dr Anoop Chakrawarti and state museum director Dr Ajay Pandey (the committee chairman), among others.
Simultaneously, the Faizabad district magistrate also constituted an administrative committee to make an inventory of the Baba’s belongings. This panel included ADM-City RN Sharma; Ram Katha Sangrahalaya director Yogesh Kumar; Faizabad Collectorate administrative officers Satwant Singh Sethi and Ram Kesh Chaudhary; local BJP leader Shakti Singh; UPPCL superintendent engineer Ashok Singh and PWD executive engineer Ashok Singh.
The items listed by the administrative committee included German-made binoculars; music records; a gramophone player; an England-made typewriter; Japanese saucers; a Swedish stove; packs of English cigarettes; and imported socks and shirts. It also contained over 350 books, including many on the Indian freedom movement, besides several issues of the Illustrated Weekly, Reader’s Digest, Blitz, Pioneer and the Times of India.
Committee also found stacks of new currency notes in the denomination of Rs 2, 5 and 10; a golden ring; an Indian national flag; an ice box; a cushion; an umbrella; a monkey cap; sweaters; khaki trousers; a khaki coat; a khaki raincoat; a saffron-coloured shawl; besides bottles of homeopathic and ayurvedic medicines among the seer’s belongings. However, the articles that caught everybody’s attention were four black-and-white photographs of a birthday party showing Netaji and his family members. The imprinted date said January 23, though the year was not known.
District magistrate Yogeshwar Ram Mishra said the process of listing items will be completed over the next two days. He said that if the head of the technical committee does not receive the items by the end of the process, they will be put in the Faizabad treasury again.
Meanwhile, BJP leader Shakti Singh reiterated a couple of questions that have been haunting everybody: why would a hermit like Gumnami Baba carry imported items of such good quality, and why was he so interested in literature pertaining to the Indian freedom struggle?