A broken nose

Amal Chatterjee
8 min readJan 27, 2022

Source: Photo of the Victoria memorial in my hometown where the Queen sat on the pedestal with her broken nose long after Independence.

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Synopsis: What is in a broken nose? Evidently a great deal. The British ruled India for over 250 years with ruthless oppression that made the country poor and pitiful while they looted all its riches to enrich their own country. They erected statues of their kings and queens all over India that posed as a visual symbol of their oppression, but it came to an end when India became free. Someone broke the nose of the statue of King George V in New Delhi that led to a chain of events over a long period of time culminating in the erection of the statue of the great Nationalist hero Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

In my home town there is a huge park erstwhile called Alfred park where there used to be a white marble life size statue of Queen Victoria sitting on a throne with a scepter in her hand and a sphere in the other perhaps representing the globe. It was most likely made in England and transported to my home town with great fanfare and installed under a huge marble canopy.

During the struggle for independence people attacked the symbol of oppression like the statue of the Queen Victoria and broke her nose so she sat there for years with a broken nose. I used to climb to the pedestal and look closely at her stone unsmiling face and wonder how the queen of a small island called England so far away could become the ruler of a vast country called India that was now free.

During the British Raaj, the park used to be a lively place where the British ladies walked around the promenade with parasols while their maids pushed the baby strollers behind. A band played in the center just in front of the monument where the Queen sat there with unblinking eyes and perhaps wondering what she was doing in a strange land so far from home.

British men in smart evening dresses walked along with the women with their Indian servants in tow just in case they needed something. It was a park of massive proportions with trees and flowers everywhere. Numerous gardeners toiled to make the park beautiful with wonderful varieties of roses and chrysanthemums. There were flower shows, dog shows and picnics so the park was a lively place indeed.

The entire front of the monument was lined with cannons representing the might of the Empire but later the termites ate away the wheels, so the cannons were placed on ugly cement blocks by the municipal office.

One day my father was going to his office pedaling his bicycle and passing by the park when he heard gun shots, so he knew that something was going on inside the park that made him pedal on faster but later the news came that a great hero and revolutionary Chandra Shekhar Ajaad was involved in a gun battle with the British police that had shot him. Now the park is named as Chandra Shekhar Ajaad park, but the Victoria memorial remains empty.

I was probably 10 years old when I heard that a statue of the hero was to be unveiled in the park at the spot where he gave his life, so I walked several kilometers to reach the park and observed the ceremony.

At that time there was a national movement to remove all statues of British people and change all the names of roads, parks and public buildings so the statue of the queen with her broken nose was removed unceremoniously and dumped somewhere full of weeds and overgrown jungle. People just did not like to be reminded of their 250 years of oppression because the country was now free.

There was a beautiful park near our home called Minto park where we used to play as children annoying the devil out of the gardeners tending their beautiful flower beds but what we liked most was to climb on the monument that had a square base with some inscriptions chiseled into the white marble that we tried to read and understand. On top of this square base was a huge pillar with four lion heads on top and the half bust of Minto, King George V ,Queen Victoria and others on four sides.

Later the busts were removed and the four sides with the inscriptions were defaced entirely. The park has been renamed Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya park . He was a great revolutionary who was also the founder of the Benares Hindu University (BHU) that is one of the top Universities in India.

Now the younger generation does not know the British and their names so the Chatham lines, Canning road, McPherson Lake and Hewett road etc. are forgotten because all the names have been changed long ago.

Just a few days ago the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi created history by pushing a button that turned on the holographic camera that now projects a 3D holographic image of the National Hero Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose exactly at the same place where King George V statue used to be in front of the India Gate in New Delhi. The canopy was empty since 1968 but I always wished in my heart that Netaji Bose should be honored there because it was Bose and his Indian National Army that had pushed out the British from India no matter what the Congress propagandists say even today. People know the truth.

The Congress party ruled the country for many decades but they tried to marginalize the effort of Netaji Bose to get Independence so they tried to erase him from the history books. Thus a great injustice was done by them that has now been corrected by the Prime Minister of India. People are grateful that Bose is thus honored.

The holographic image will stay there until a 28 foot tall statue of Netaji Bose in granite is completed and placed there. It is what I call the Divine Justice because Bose who fought the British tooth and nail and succeeded in getting them out of India stands right where King George V statue used to be. Nothing could be more apt.

Source : Google photo of the India Gate and the empty canopy in Delhi

Source : Google photo of the holographic image of Netaji Bose in Delhi where once stood the statue of King George V

When someone broke the nose of the statue of King George V during the movement to remove all British statues in India, it stood there until it was removed in 1968 , some 21 years after the independence . Why it took 21 years to remove the statue of King George V ? The ruling party of the time was the Congress party that did not like to embarrass the British Royalty by removing the statue but a new government came to power that removed it.

The place remained empty from 1968 until this year of 2022 because the Congress Party did not like to honor our national hero Bose and perhaps wanted to place a statue of Gandhi or Nehru there but it was strongly opposed by the people of India who see the Gandhi and Nehru as nothing but the interlopers who falsely claimed that the British left due to their nonviolent agitations.

Now a great statue of Bose will be installed there as soon as it is completed. People of India have impatiently waited for 75 years for the national hero Bose to be recognized and honored this way. The freedom fighters who died in jails in Andaman or were hanged elsewhere by the British were thousands in number but most of them have faded from the collective memory of the nation because their contribution to the armed struggle to free India was suppressed by the people in power in the post-independence era of India.

It took India more than 70 years to build a National war memorial in front of the India Gate in Delhi to honor all those who sacrificed their lives so that all Indians could live as free people. This credit as well goes to the Prime Minister Modi who lit the eternal flame there just a few days ago.

Now the nation gratefully acknowledges them, and a new museum has been opened in the Red Fort of Delhi that shows in graphic details the struggle of the Indian National Army under the leadership of Bose.

The broken nose of the statue of King George V led to the chain of events culminating in the recognition and establishment of Bose as the true hero of India. Bose lives forever in the hearts of all Indians no matter where they are. People never forget their heroes.

Source : Google photo of the National War Memorial in front of India Gate in New Delhi that honors all the fallen soldiers and revolutionaries.

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Originally published at http://aumolc.wordpress.com on January 27, 2022.