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Man donates rare Gandhi photo
Published on 9 Mar. 2009 12:02 AM IST
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Can one put a price tag on a country’s heritage? The day Vijay Mallya gave $1.8 million in New York to bag five belongings of Mahatma Gandhi, an antique collector walked into Sabarmati Ashram with a rare photograph of Gandhiji in his early teens. Radheshyam Ajmeri (55) didn’t want any money. “After much persuasion, he took a token amount of Rs 500. He has been bringing a lot of Gandhi-related articles to the ashram,” said Amrit Modi, director of the Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya. The framed picture, presumably clicked in a studio, shows the young Gandhi in a Kashmiri topi posing with two friends. Ajmeri spotted it at the weekly Gurjari Bazaar by the Sabarmati. Last Sunday, he bought it with two paintings of Gandhi for Rs 200. “I am a regular at the ashram, where there are many photos of Bapu in his young days. So, I could recognize Gandhiji easily,” said Ajmeri, who supplies plastic bags for a living. An excited Modi said, “This picture is rare. The innocence of childhood is evident on Gandhiji’s face.” UP family has a signed letter from Mahatma The best outcome of the New York auction of Mahatma Gandhi’s memorabilia is that many more Indians are now aware of the significance the world attaches to the Father of the Nation. For instance, the Bhargava family from Sangam. They say their family elder, eminent lawyer J P Bhargava, had been given a personal letter written by Gandhi to Pundit Sunder Lal, a noted historian during the freedom movement. The three-page letter is in Hindi and was written by the Mahatma on July 14, 1944 from Panchgani in Maharashtra. The letter was presented to JP Bhargava by Sunder Lal himself and has since remained in the possession of the family. In the letter, Gandhiji requests Sunder Lal to propagate the idea of Hindustani without thinking of the end-result—a clear indication of the Gandhian philosophy. While mentioning a book, Vishvasangh, Mahatma Gandhi writes, “Dekho ab kab padh pata hun (let me see when I am able to read it).” Gandhiji also writes about his busy schedule because of the Independence struggle. “The letter was presented to my father by Sunder Lal himself who often came to meet him,” said A N Bhargava, an advocate of the Allahabad high court. The Bhargavas are not sure what do with the rare possession. Amrit Modi, secretary, Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, has said they can present the letter to the trust.

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