Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday announced renaming of three islands of Andaman and Nicobar archipelago as a tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
The Ross Island was renamed as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep, the Neil Island as Shaheed Dweep and the Havelock Island as Swaraj Dweep, Mr Modi said during a speech amidst thunderous applause from the audience here.
The three islands are major tourist spots. Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister inaugurated a slew of development projects and laid foundation stones of several others related to energy, connectivity, education, tourism and health sectors.
Donning the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army) cap, he addressed a public meeting at Netaji Stadium on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the hoisting of the Tricolour by Bose here.
“When it comes to heroes of the freedom struggle, we take the name of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose with pride. The first Prime Minister of the Azad Hind government Subhash Babu had made India’s independence resolution on the soil of Andaman,” he said.
“The country draws inspiration from Andaman. That is why the government has issued a notification and I am proudly announcing that henceforth, Ross Island will be known as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep. The Neil Island will be known as Shahid Dweep and Havelock Island as Swaraj Dweep,” he said.
On this day in 1943, Bose had suggested that Andaman and Nicobar Islands be renamed as Shahid and Swaraj Dweep respectively. During the World War II, the Japanese had captured the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Netaji came here as the Azad Hind Fauz led by him was an ally of the Japanese force.
“The historical event of 30th December 1943 has been completed today after 75 years,” he said. Mr Modi began his speech by asking the people in the ground to switch on the flashlights of their mobile phones to honour Bose.
Thousands of mobile flash lights were then switched on providing a visual delight.
At the stadium, the PM also released a commemorative stamp, its first-day cover and a Rs-75 coin on this special day. He also announced setting up of a deemed university named after Bose.
The cells of the Cellular Jail where great freedom fighters such as Veer Savarkar, Baba Bhan Singh, Indu Bhushan Roy were tortured for years by the British are no less than temples, the Prime Minister said.
Before this event, the Prime Minister visited the Cellular Jail and paid homage to those who were exiled and hanged as political prisoners in colonial India.
On reaching the jail premises, Modi laid a wreath at the Martyr’s Column before proceeding towards a cell, where Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar spent his days in captivity.
The Cellular Jail, also known as Kala Pani, was constructed between 1896 and 1906.
Mr Modi also visited the Marina Park here and hoisted a national flag on a 150-feet high mast, besides paying floral tribute at Netaji’s statue. The Prime Minister announced a number of development projects including a sub-marine optical fibre cable between Chennai and Port Blair, a 7-MW solar power plant and a model solar village, and a State Wide Area Network (SWAN) project connecting 12 major islands.
A 50-bed AYUSH hospital, a 50-MW LNG power plant would also be set up, Mr Modi said.
“Often, people make a distinction between mainland and island. For me, the entire India is mainland. Port Blair is as much mainland for me as Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai,” he said.
He said the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are not just a symbol of India’s natural beauty, but are also like a place of pilgrimage for Indians. In the morning, Modi congratulated the people of Car Nicobar for overcoming the impact of the Tsunami, which struck the Island in 2004, and said the government is also working to provide better facilities to the people in the Andamans.
“The people here have been demanding a solution to the problem of sea erosion for a long time. I am glad to announce that the government has decided to erect a sea wall to deal with the problem, the foundation of which will be laid today,” he said.
“Along with the security of people at Car Nicobar, the government is making efforts to ensure employment for youth, education for children, medical care for the aged and facilities for the farmers,” he added.
Earlier in the day, the PM paid tributes to Tsunami victims at a memorial in Car Nicobar