Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: After-1945

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Post-1945 theories about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and the loopholes in them; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, January 24, 2016

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

Contents

Netaji’s life: 1941-45

The Hindu, September 19, 2015

The last year's of Netaji's life are shrouded in mystery. From his curious disappearence in 1941 to the air crash in 1942 in which he was announced dead and the crash in 1945, there seem to be loose ends that many hope declassification of the State and Central intelligence files will tie up. Some of these events:

January 28, 1941

Mr. Subhas Bose missing from his residence, search by relatives and friends "He was much depressed that, at such a critical juncture, the Congress leadership had failed the country."

November 12, 1941

Whereabouts of Mr. Subhas Bose “It has been common talk in certain quarters in this country for some time that Mr. Subhas Chandra Bose is either in Rome or in Berlin and has entered into a pact with the Axis powers"

March 28, 1942

Mr. Subhas Bose reported killed in air crash A Bangkok dispatch to the German News Agency says that two leaders of the Indian community in Siam were killed in an aeroplane crash off Japan.

March 30, 1942

'Brave son of India' - Congress leaders' tributes "The tragic end of Subhas, while he was still in the prime of life, will cause deep sorrow to all those who knew him."

April 2, 1942

Mr. Subhas Bose not involved in air accident The German Official News Agency, while announcing the aeroplane crash, did not list Mr. Bose among the victims

June 11, 1942

Netaji meets Hitler The Berlin Radio was announcing that Hitler had received Subhas Chandra Bose at his headquarters.

August 25, 1945

Bose dead, fatally wounded in air crash: Japanese report An Agency said that Mr. Subhas Chandra Bose died in a Japanese hospital from injuries received in an air crash.

September 3, 1945

Pandit Nehru's views on Subhas Bose 'Japanese report that Bose was killed in a plane crash is not believed in British and American military circles'

September 9, 1945

Subhas Bose's last days Mr. Subhas Chandra Bose was being brought to Tokyo as the first step in his transfer to Manchuria where he was expected to seek safety and protection from the Russians

1942, 1944: Rumours of crash

The Times of India, Sep 19 2015

The crash report by Reuters in 1942; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Sep 19 2015

Multiple rumours of crash between 1942 & 1944

Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey  Was Netaji's “death“ in the Taihoku air crash the culmination of a rash of crash theories that started appearing 1942 onwards? Intelligence files declassified on Friday indicate that rumours on the leader's death in air accidents appeared multiple times between 1942 and 1944 till the “final crash“ on August 18, 1945. The first file suggests that in March 1942, Netaji had died in a Japan plane crash. Subsequently , on June 6, 1942, an intelligence agent (TL 103) reported that the Madaripur Jugantar Party had used a “transmitting set“ to talk directly with Subhas in Bangkok after reports of that air accident began doing the rounds. They were much relieved to know Netaji was doing fine. Entries in this file provide details of special transmitters used to catch “enemy broadcasts“ from Axis radio streamed mainly from Berlin, Saigon, Tokyo and Bangkok. They suggest Netaji might have been in Bangkok then for the Indian Independence Conference.

A May 17 entry marked “secret“, says: “It is reported from Bangkok that in view of the sudden collapse of the British forces in Burma, leaders of several organisations in East Asia fighting for India's freedom will soon hold a conference in Bangkok.“

Another entry zeroes in on a Netaji aide, Jathedar Mohan Singh, in Kolkata who used to derive a lot of information on Netaji from Axis Radio. The entry reads thus: “Singh's reference to the prospective attendance of Bose at the conference is based on the in ference that the Indian National Council (under whose auspices the Bangkok conference was to be held) had been formed under Subhas Bose's guidance and inspiration.“ The entry mentions the rumour that Netaji had left Europe for the Far East. It warns that Singh might have been getting his information through “other channels“ and that “remains a live issue“.

The file is replete with entries about wireless transmissions and about wireless transmissions and secret codes created to receive Axis transmissions. The files repeatedly mention Jatin Bhattacharjee in this context. His notebook and transmitter were seized for the codes he had recorded. These were decoded by police radio experts later who concluded that a parallel “channel of communication“ existed between India and “enemy-occupied“ countries.

An entry by W Mack Wright, I P (equivalent of IPS), on July 17, 1942, reads: “Hindusthan Standard (A Kolkata newspaper no longer in circulation) discredited the news of the death of Subhas Chandra Bose in an air crash. In the editorial column of its issue of Monday March 30, 1942 that appeared in heavy print, the following notice appeared: `Reuter' announces the death of Sri Subhas Chandra on information gathered from Lyons and Vichy Radios. We refuse to write an obituary notice. Long Live Sri Subhas Chandra!“ In a much later entry in file 64, the fact that Netaji's family quashed the theory of yet another air crash on October 23, 1944, has been mentioned. Netaji's nephew, Sisir Bose, was recorded to have been questioning the purported crash at Taipei, Formosa on that day. The entry mentions that Sisir Bose asked Yotori Yo Ko Bori of the Kyode News Service, Tokyo, to investigate if any crash had happened that day at all.

Crash

The Times of India, Mar 16 2016

Arunav Sinha

A letter written by the R-S-S' fifth chief K S Sudarshan on June 7, 2007 categorically states Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose returned from Russia in or around 1953, and lived as Gumnami Baba in different parts of the country. The letter was found on Tuesday , days after one by R-S-S' second sarsanghchalak M S Golwalkar was found among Gumnami's Baba's effects in the Faizabad treasury . Sudarshan's letter, ad dressed to Shakti Singh, the owner of Ram Bhawan, where Gumnami Baba lived the final years of his life, states that the news of Netaji's death in Taihoku plane crash was “presumed“ to be true. “But the truth is that two of India's ambassadors to Russia, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit and S Radhakrishnan, had met Netaji in person inside the jail,“ Sudarshan writes, adding that both the ambassadors were instructed not to spread the news about Bose's survival. “It is for this neglect (meted out to Netaji) that he was forced to lead life as Gumnami Ba ba, either in the Hi malayas or in and around Ayodhya,“ Sudarshan wrote, adding that for a long time the people of the country had no knowledge about him.

On April 23, 2005, speaking in Kolkata, Sudarshan had claimed Netaji was alive till 1985 and did not die in the Taihoku air crash. Sudarshan had also demanded that the Justice M K Mukherjee Commission on Netaji be sent to Russia by the then UPA government to examine the relevant documents.

1949: Blitz dismissed death-in-crash theory

A summary of what the Netaji files declassified by Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee in September 2015 reveal; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, September 19, 2015

The Times of India, September 19, 2015

Blitz report junked crash theory in 1949

In April 1949, more than 50 years before the Justice Mukherjee Commission concluded that Netaji did not die in the Taihoku crash, a state intelligence officer had forwarded a report to his superior that doubted the authenticity of the accident. The report, published in the popular tabloid Blitz on March 26, 1949, referred to concerns in the British government over confidential information about Netaji. It said he was alive and waiting to return to his homeland. This is part of the files declassified on Friday.

“This sensational news, upsetting the wishful thinking of many who believed that Bose died in a crash, was originally transmitted to the British Foreign Office from the British Embassy in Turkey and is reported to have been confirmed since from Anglo-American secret agents in the East,“ reads a copy of the report sent to the police superintendent, District Intelligence Branch (DIB), Howrah, on April 29, 1949, by DIB-CID. Copies were forwarded to the SSP (II) IB, CID, Kolkata and SPs of DIBs in Cooch Behar, West Dinajpur, Malda, Nadia and Murshidabad.

“It is not known whether news of the Living Bose is based upon positive evidence of his whereabouts, suspected to be in Red China or Soviet Russia, or upon what is described as the `negative' evidence of the failure of the best brains of the Anglo-American security services to dig up the slightest evidence confirming the story of Bose's death in a plane crash and his subsequent cremation with full military honours in Tokyo,“ the report states.

The plane crash theory was based on a statement by General Habib-ur-Rahman, chief of Netaji's personal staff, who claimed that he was with Bose in the plane when it crashed. There were inconsisten cies in his statement that led to doubts over what happened. Rahman later claimed that Netaji was alive and would return. “ Anglo American sources, haunted by the bogey of the Red Peril, seem to see the hand of Bose behind every Communist offensive in South-East Asia and the Far East. They seem to have decided that the Indian leader is undergoing training in Russia to emerge as another Tito, Dimitrov or Mao when the Marxist hour strikes for India,“ the Blitz said.

Two decades after this report was cir culated before being archived, MP Samar Guha wrote to then state chief secretary M M Basu, bringing to his notice a report in a lo cal daily that quoted a former war veteran as saying Netaji boarded a Japanese submarine in Singapore instead of the fatal flight. The informer also claimed Netaji had left his sword with him, which he brought to India with the help of late Air Marshal Subrato Mukherji. “This report, if true, throws a whole new light on Netaji's escape from Singapore. I hope you will consider the matter as very important and make an inquiry ,“ Guha wrote on March 11, 1969.

March 2016

The Times of India, Mar 31, 2016

Kingshuk Nag

Netaji survived 1945 air crash, hint newly declassified filesNetaji survived 1945 air crash, hint newly declassified files

Files declassified by the Modi government in March 2016 indicate that Netaji Subhas Bose made three 'broadcasts' on dates after he's thought to have died in a plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945. One file in particular, File No 870/11/p/16/92/Pol, contains the content of these broadcasts, supposedly from Netaji. The content likely came from Governor House in Bengal. It's mentioned in the file that one PC Kar, an official thete, claimed that a monitoring service had picked up the broadcasts on the 31-metre band. Kar apparently told then governor R G Casey about them. The first broadcast, supposedly by Bose, was on December 26, 1945. "I am at present under the shelter of great World powers. My heart is burning for India. I will go to India on the crest of a Third World War. It may come in ten years or even earlier. Then I will sit on judgment upon those trying my men at the Red Fort," the broadcast said. The second broadcast was on January 1, 1946. "We must get freedom within two years. The British imperialism has broken down and it must concede independence to India. India will not be free by means of 'non-violence'. But I am quite respectful to Mahatma Gandhi." The third broadcast was in February 1946. "This is Subhas Chandra Bose speaking, Jai Hind. This is the third time I am addressing my Indian brothers and sisters after Japan's surrender... The PM of England is going to send Mr Pethick Lawrence and two other members with no object in view other than let the British imperialism a permanent settlement by all means to suck the blood of India."

The declassified file also refers to a letter of July 22, 1946, from Khurshed Naoroji, one of Gandhi's secretaries, to Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of the British Indian Empire. "At heart, the Indian Army is sympathetic to the INA (Bose's Indian National Army). If Bose comes with the help of Russia, neither Gandhiji nor Nehru nor the Congress will be able to reason with the country," Naoroji writes to Mountbatten. In addition, the file refers to the British government, on October 25, 1945, taking up the issue of Netaji having died in the air crash. It says the British Prime Minister was chairing a meet to consider, among other things, what to do with Bose in the post-war situation. The British cabinet discussed a confidential note sent by the Viceroy of India, Lord Wavell, regarding the "finalisation of a policy towards Bose". The file says that the diary of Mountbatten - who was then the supreme commander of the Allied forces in Southeast Asia - indicates that he received a dispatch from the British directorate of military intelligence after the news of Bose's death in the crash. The message said: "When Bose was preparing to leave Burma by plane, the Chinese intercepted a message from the Japanese asking him to remain in Burma. Bose subsequently escaped to Thailand."

1949: Radio message promises Netaji’s voice, falsely

The Times of India, Sep 19 2015

Rakhi Chakrabarty

Radio messages that raised hope of Bose brigade

Two years after independence, a radio broadcast aroused much curiosity and stoked the hope of many Indians that Netaji could be alive. A letter one of Netaji's nephews, Amiya Nath Bose, wrote to brother, Sisir Kumar Bose, said: “For the last one month, a strange broadcast is being heard over the radio.We're getting this broadcast on the short-wave near 16mm.The broadcast only says, “Neta Subhas Chandra Bose transmitter-e katha bolte cheyechhen. (Bose wants to speak on the transmitter).“ This sentence is repeated for hours.“

The letter dated November 18, 1949 was intercepted by the Kolkata Police Special Branch.Sisir was then studying medicine in London. Elder brother Amiya lived in Kolkata.

Amiya continues: “We don't know where it (the broadcast) is coming from, because that's not announced.It's possible to find the location of a transmission.“

This letter figures in File 606-29, one of 64 declassified by the West Bengal on September 18, 2015.

The disappearance of Netaji

Picture courtesy: The Times of India, Sep 07 2015
Picture courtesy: The Times of India, Sep 07 2015
Picture courtesy: The Times of India, Sep 07 2015

The Times of India, Sep 07 2015

It's one of the greatest mysteries of modern india: was gumnami baba, also known as the ascetic of up's faizabad, actually netaji subhas chandra bose? subhro niyogi, saikat ray and a team of reporters track down some people who actually interacted with him and are convinced that it was none other than the charismatic leader himself, living under an assumed identity. read on to find out what they have to say

A moment that lasted a fraction of a second 33 years ago is etched so vividly in Sura jit Dasgupta's memory that a mere recollection triggers a myriad emotions. Dasgupta's facial muscles twitch, lips quiver and eyes turn misty as he strives to utter something, stutters and then gives up. After several minutes of internal strife, Dasgupta composes himself. “He was seated before me like every day when I had an urge to see him. I stole a glance and was so dazzled by the glow that emanated from within that I had to immediately lower my gaze. It is a sight I will never forget,“ he mumbles.

The “he“ Dasgupta refers to was Bhagwanji, an ascetic in Faizabad, UP , who very few “knew“ to be Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Here was the man who had been pronounced dead 37 years ago, a death millions refused to believe. Many felt he would return to India one day to finally solve one of the most baffling mysteries of modern times. And there he was! “Netaji's associate and our guru, Sunil Gupta, had been visiting Bhagwanji for two decades. In the initial years, it was very secretive. He wouldn't disclose where he was going. All that we knew was that he had some very important mission. Later, he cryptically said: `Contact has been established'. I knew at once he was referring to Netaji. I was thrilled. In the years that followed, I would accompany Gupta till the station as he took a train twice a year to travel to Neemsar and later Faizabad, once during Durga Puja and again on January 23, Netaji's birthday . It was much later, in 1982, that Gupta decided it was finally time we could be let into the exclusive circle, and we travelled to Faizabad to meet Bhagwanji,“ Dasgupta recalls.

It was Netaji's elder brother, Suresh Chandra Bose, who had tasked Gupta with exploring every news and rumour that surfaced on Netaji's return to India. Gupta faithfully went to Shaulmari and other places where it was rumoured Netaji had returned in the guise of an ascetic. He was disappointed on each occasion, till he finally met Bhagwanji at Neemsar in 1962.

A few ground rules were laid before Dasgupta's first meeting; the most important being not to look at Bhagwanji. He generally communicated with a short curtain drawn between him and the visitors that hid his face. That is how Dasgupta met him as well.

“We would go to his house every day , have breakfast and then go to shop for the day's meals. While Saraswati Devi would cook, we would discuss world politics.After lunch, it could be about theology , music, even metaphysics. Sometimes, the discussions went on till the wee hours next morning. We would sit transfixed, listen with rapt attention and take down notes.He predicted the disintegration of USSR that was unthinkable then, talked about the mess in the Vietnam War. He even remarked that communism would die in the place of its birth. During the Bangladesh Liberation War, he followed the developments keenly and we believe he even passed on strategic instructions that helped decide the war,“ Dasgupta says.

After the first two-three days, Bhagwanji trusted that the youths would follow the rules, and stopped drawing the curtain. It was on one of these days Dasgupta was seized by the irresistible desire to steal a glance at the person hero-worshipped across Bengal. And what a sight it was! “There was no mistaking it was Netaji. His hair had thinned, much more than what we were used to seeing in his photographs. He had a flowing beard. But the features were exactly the same. Only , he had aged. The eyes were so powerful I had to turn away immediately . I realized then that the patriot our parents and we had worshipped since we were kids had reached a higher plane of existence. He had become a mahatma,“ he recalls.

Rita Banerjee of Faizabad, too, refers to a “bright light“ emanating from Bhagwanji. “The aura was so intense that I could not establish eye contact with him,“ says Rita, whom Bhagwanji called “Phoolwa Rani“ and her husband “Bachha“. Gyani Gurjeet Singh Khalsa, the chief priest of Gurdwara Brahamakund Sahib that overlooks the raging Saryu river, recounts a similar experience when he saw Bhagwanji face-to-face. “I was a 17-year-old when I saw him. The radiance on his face was astounding. It cannot be explained in words,“ he recounts.

Dasgupta, who is now 64, and some others who are convinced that Bhagwanji was Netaji, are waging a silent legal battle against the Indian government to extract the truth and discredit a lie they claim has been propagated for seven decades. In later years, Bhagwanji talked about the escape to USSR via Diren in Manchuria after a “concocted air crash“. He talked vividly about how prison camps functioned in Siberia.

Dasgupta is among the very few alive to have met Bhagwanji. Bijoy Nag, a former auditor at a private firm, is another. Though he never looked at Bhagwanji, he can recall each meeting with amazing clarity . “On my first visit, I touched his feet while he remained behind a curtain. Blessing me, he said: `Your dream is now a reality'. I was 31 and thrilled,“ recalls Nag, now 76. In all, he had met the ascetic 14 times between 1970 and 1985, and each meeting was memorable.

Most of Dasgupta's visits were when the ascetic was living in Purani Bustee.But it was at Brahma Kund (Ayodhya) where Bhagwanji stayed for a few months between 1975 and 1976 that Nag was in closest proximity with him. “I stayed in the room next to his. I could have looked at him any time if I wished because by then, the curtain had been drawn.He had only instructed us not to look at him and we didn't disobey him,“ says Nag, who had on Bhagwanji's request collected and delivered photographs of Netaji's mother, father and school teacher.

More stoic than Dasgupta, Nag is in control of his emotions but there is no mistaking the glimmer in his eyes when the subject is discussed. “Though I didn't look at him, I don't have an iota of doubt it was Netaji speaking to me. It is an unshakeable truth,“ he says with such definitiveness that one realizes it is backed by absolute conviction.

It was because of his aunt Lila Roy -who had been in constant touch with Netaji between 1922 and January 1941 -that Nag got the opportunity to meet Bhagwanji. It was Sketch of INA secret service agent Pabitra Mohan Roy who told Lila about Bhagwanji in December 1962 after another Netaji associate, Atul Sen, broke the news on his return from Neemsar. His meeting Bhagwanji had been sheer providence. Sen, who had contested the legislative seat from Dhaka in the 1930s on Netaji's insistence and won, was in 1962 travelling to various places in UP on “change“ on doctor's advice.

In April, he reached Neemsar, a pilgrimage site near Lucknow. It is here that he heard from locals about a Bengali mahatma who lived in an abandoned Shiva temple. Sen's curiosity was piqued and d went to meet the ascetic. He finally met d him after several attempts -and instant ly knew it was Netaji. Over the next few n days, he met Bhagwanji many times.

. An ecstatic but cautious Atul Sen re) turned to Kolkata in 1962 and disclosed s the news to Pabitra Mohan Roy and his torian RC Majumdar. Sen also wrote to e PM Jawaharlal Nehru on August 28, 1962.

“Netaji is alive and is engaged in spiritual e practice somewhere in India... From the talks I had with him, I could understand that he is yet regarded as enemy No. 1 of Allied powers and that there is a secret protocol that binds the Indian government to deliver him to Allied `justice' if found alive. If you can assure me otherwise, I may try to persuade him to return to open life,“ he wrote. In the reply dated August 31, 1962, Nehru denied the existence of any such protocol.

Lila, meanwhile, resolved to serve Bhagwanji till her last day. From 1963 till her death in 1970, she would send money and sundry items to him every month through emissaries. Bhagwanji was fond of typical Bengali dishes like ghonto, sukto and keema. During his birthday celebrations, a closed-door affair with some family members and close acquaintances, delicacies served included mishti doi and khejur gur payesh.

It wasn't just people from Bengal who were meeting Bhagwanji. From December 1954 to April 1957, UP CMs Sampurnanand and Benarasi Dasgupta were in constant touch with Bhagwanji.Their letters as well as those from former railway minister Ghani Khan Chowdhury and other important leaders were found in Bhagwanji's belongings that are now in Faizabad Treasury .

Gumnami Baba

The Times of India, Mar 16 2016

Arunav Sinha

Photos of Netaji with kin in Gumnami Baba belongings; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Mar 16 2016

The mystery surrounding Gumnami Baba, who many believe was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose living incognito in UP's Faizabad, turned deeper with the recovery of old photographs of the Bose family from the district's treasury. Apart from a family portrait, there's a photograph of Netaji's parents Jankinath and Prabhawati Bose in the inventory -their identities confirmed by Shakti Singh, the owner of Ram Bhawan, where Gumnami Baba spent the final three years of his life from 1982 to '85.

“The family photograph of the Bose family shows 22 members besides his parents,“ said Singh, who is also a special invitee to the committee formed by the Faizabad administration for the retrieval and cross-verification of Gumnami Baba's artefacts.

Singh said Lalita Bose, the daughter of Netaji's brother Suresh, had visited Ram Bhawan in Faizabad on February 4, 1986. “She identified the people in the photographs when these were at Ram Bhawan,“ he added, saying the descrip tion Lalita provided is part of the inventory.

Apart from this, a number of telegrams sent to Gumnami Baba by Azad Hind Fauj veterans Pabitra Mohan Roy (senior officer of INA's intelligence wing) and Sunil Kant Gupta on the occasions of Durga Puja and January 23 (Netaji's birthday) have also been found.

“Gumnami Baba had a habit of making indirect ref erences to people. He referred to Sunil Kant Gupta as Sukriti. Some letters mentioning the sender's name as Mukul and Tripti were also found,“ Singh told TOI.

Singh heads the SC Bose Rashtriya Vichar Kendra in Faizabad. He said the documents retrieved from Ram Bhawan indicate that the Baba was not just another sage, but an “extraordinary human being“.

The Gumnami Baba of Faizabad?

The Times of India

Bhagwanji's stay in UP; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India

Was Bhagwanji the same as Netaji?

The Times of India, Sep 07 2015

One of the reasons why followers of Bhagwanji are convinced he was Netaji is the uncanny knowledge of minute details about brief encounters Netaji had with them before the Great Escape from his Elgin Road residence on January 16, 1941. The most startling among them was things he would say to emissaries through whom Lila Roy sent money and sundry items every month till her death in 1970 h Since Bhagwanji kept shifting from one place to another, he would send coded messages to let emissaries know when he was in a dera. The emissaries would then carry a brief note that Lila Roy wrote about them to assuage Bhagwanji's apprehensions about their trustworthiness h There are many anecdotes that emissaries believed were clinching proof that Bhagwanji was Netaji. In a note on one Apurba Ghosh, it was mentioned that he was in the reception committee at Manikganj. In the deposition before the Justice Mukherjee Commission, he recounted the interaction between him and Bhagwanji. “He asked me whether I was the man who offered him a comb when he came out of the bathroom in Kutcharibari after having his bath. When I said yes, he asked me whether I had noticed him smiling. He said he had smiled because instead of offering the comb on a plate or dish, I had offered it with my bare hands. He also enquired about Bahadur, the durwan at the Bose residence on Elgin Road. He then asked me if I had seen the calendar with a picture of Goddess Kali in Netaji's living room. I had seen it there. These are things that only Netaji himself would have known,“ Ghosh told the commission.

On the Gumnami trail

The Times of India, Sep 08 2015


Picture courtesy: The Times of India, Sep 08 2015
Letters and notes found with Bhagwanji; Picture courtesy: The Times of India, Sep 08 2015

The Justice Mukherjee Commission concluded that Netaji didn't die in the Taihoku air crash. And there is a recent court order to inquire into the identity of Gumnami Baba. Subhro Niyogi & Saikat Ray trace the ascetic's journey over three decades and come up with some startling facts It is one of the most enduring mysteries of modern day India, one that has baffled three generations of truth-seekers. And it continues for over 68 years with political leaders, bureaucrats, diplomats, and agencies trying to establish that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose died in the Taihoku plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945 -which the Justice Mukherjee Commission, set up to investigate the theory , categorically dismissed. Recently , the Uttar Pradesh government decided to set up a museum at Faizabad to preserve the articles used by an ascetic who bore a striking resemblance to Netaji. This is the first initiative at the government level following an order of the Allahabad HC in January 2013 giving credence to the findings of the Mukherjee panel, which held after a seven-year inquiry into Bose's whereabouts post-August 18, 1945 that Netaji didn't die in the plane crash. Mukherjee concluded that there was no such incident in Taiwan that day . He also stated that the ash preserved at the Renkoji Temple in Tokyo were those of a Japanese, Ichiro Okura, who had been cremated.

Incidentally , even Mahatma Gandhi had not bought the plane crash theory . In January 1946, he asserted his belief that Netaji was alive and would appear at the right moment. A week before the naval mutiny , Gandhi insisted on speaking about Netaji in the present tense. According to some, Nehru was said to have received a letter from Bose saying he was in Russia and wanted to escape to India. He would arrive via Chitral, where one of Sarat Bose's sons would receive him.

The Lucknow Bench of Al lahabad HC didn't stop at asking the UP government to scientifically preserve the articles in a museum. It directed the government to set up a committee of experts under a retired HC judge to hold an inquiry on the identity of the late Gumnami Baba, the ascetic from Faizabad who was cremated on August 18, 1985.

In essence, the order takes the findings of the Mukherjee panel forward. Mukherjee, in his report, hinted at the striking resemblance between Netaji before 1945 and Bhagwanji or Gumnami Baba. “ Apparently there is no reason for not acting or relying upon the evidence of witnesses, particularly those who had seen Netaji before 1945 and also met Bhagwanji or Gumnami Baba face to face, more so when their evidence regarding the frequent visits of some freedom fighters and some politicians and former members of INA on January 23 and during the Durga Puja is supported by the fact that letters written by them...were found in Rambhavan, Faizabad...“ the report says.

According to Gyani Gurjeet Singh Khalsa, chief priest of Gurudwara Brahamakund Sahib where Bhagwanji had lived for six months before moving to Ram Bhawan, Army and cops as well as officials from the administration would clandestinely meet Bhagwanji in the cover of darkness, generally after 11pm. “They all came in black Ambassador cars,“ he recounts.

On September 7, 1963, Lila Roy sent a letter to Netaji's close friend Dilip Roy on Bhagwanji's instruction. “I wanted to tell you something about your friend. He is alive; in India,“ she wrote. Roy's death in 1970 was a big blow to Bhagwanji and he admitted so in a letter written to pay homage to her. Leading handwriting expert B Lal, who compared the handwriting of this letter with Netaji's writings, said they were an exact match.

The reclusive and mysterious ascetic, who later came to be known as Bhagwanji and later still as Gumnami Baba, arrived at Shringar Nagar in Lucknow's Alam Bagh area in 1955, barely two years after Stalin's death.

Bhagwanji lived in a rented house in Shringar Nagar for two years in relative anonymity before moving to Neemsar, near the Indo-Nepal border, in 1957. It was only in April 1962 that Atul Sen, an associate of Netaji, met and recognized the ascetic.Thereafter, many people from Bengal began visiting him, particularly during Durga Puja and on January 23, Netaji's birthday. It took years for the ascetic, who was always on his guard and behind a curtain, to open up. But he remained wary, frequently changing his lodgings.

The fears weren't unfound ed, say Netaji loyalists. They cite documents referred to in the `Transfer of Power, Vol-VI' that clearly establishes that the British government knew of the existence of Netaji after August 18, 1945. A top secret letter of Sr F Mudie, home member, viceroy's executive council, to Sur E Jenkins dated August 23, 1945, revealed that five days after the alleged air crash, they were thinking of taking a decision on the treatment of Bose as a war criminal and the consequences they may have to confront.

Many of those who had met Bhagwanji during this period have no doubt that it was Netaji. Though most of them are no longer alive, their emphatic deposition before the Mukherjee Commission is proof of their conviction.

On September 17, 1985, it was declared that Bhagwanji had died of a cardiovascular failure at 9.45pm the previous day . On September 18, the doctor certified the death. On September 19, a bier-like structure was cremated at Guptar Ghat on the bank of the river Saryu, Faizabad, at 4pm. No one was allowed to see his face. Physician P Banerjee, who was present at the cremation, later disclosed that it was not Bhagwanji whose body was consigned to flames.

There is another mystery .A matchbox containing seven teeth, assumed to be those of Bhagwanji, was sent for DNA tests to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Kolkata and to a Hyderabad-based lab.The latter's report was inconclusive. The former gave a negative report. But Netaji researcher Anuj Dhar questions the very authenticity of the report and points to a “scoop“ in a local daily that reported the finding six months before the report was signed and sent by the CFSL director to the Mukherjee panel.

“For some reason the expert who supervised the DNA tests was not willing to appear before the commission.He did so only after repeated summons,“ Dhar says.

While Dhar is perturbed by the UP government's silence on the inquiry the HC judges had stated in their order, he is glad that a museum is finally under way to scientifically preserve the ascetic's contents for re-examination. In their observation on a case (No. 929 of 1986) filed by Netaji's niece Lalita Bose, Justice Devi Prasad Singh and Justice Virendra Kumar Dixit observed that during the search of Bhagwanji's house, “a large number of belongings and literature associated with the INA in general and Subhas Chandra Bose in particular came to light. There were a large number of family photographs, reports of inquiry commission related to the death of Netaji etc. It also transpired that a special ceremony used to be held in the room of Bhagwanji each January 23 which, incidentally , is the birthday of Subhas Chandra Bose and that on that day , no person from Faizabad was allowed to visit him. Some persons from Kolkata used to come and stay with him for that day“.

Pranab Mukherjee, Congress minister, met Gumnami?

Arunav Sinha | TNN | Oct 26, 2016, 'Pranab Mukherjee had met Gumnami Baba as Congress mantri' The Times of India

The mystery surrounding Gumnami Baba+ , who many believe was Subhas Chandra Bose+ , took a curious turn in Oct 2016 when the Sahai Commission+ was informed that President Pranab Mukherjee had met him in Faizabad in the 1980s when he was a Union minister in the Congress government.

Ravindra Shukla (57), who was in touch with Gumnami Baba+ and one of the 13 people who witnessed his funeral at Guptaar Ghat, admitted before the commission that Mukherjee visited him once, during Navratra in October.

Shukla told TOI: "It was around 1981-82 when I was instructed by Bhagwanji to accompany a Bengali gentleman to the local market. The Bengali gentleman was staying at Ayodhya's Birla Dharamshala. I ferried the gentleman on my Yezdi motorcycle to Chowk area of Faizabad, where he purchased clothes and some dry fruits."


He added that the clothes were purchased from a prominent shop (Kanhaiyya Lal Baldev). "After this, I dropped the gentleman at Birla Dharamshala. Since I stayed with the Bengali gentleman for a long time, I could recall his face. Later, when he became a Union minister and subsequently the President, I could easily recall and recollect that the person whom I took to the market was Pranab Mukherjee," Shukla wrote in his submission to the commission.

Mukherjee was minister of commerce and steel & mines from January 1980 to January 1982. He was finance minister from January 1982 to December 1984.

"I had never seen Bhagwanji (Baba) till the time he was alive (sic) but had the opportunity of getting blessed by him, physically touching his feet and even repairing his room cooler (while covered in a blanket or bedsheet).The first time I saw Bhagwanji with my own eyes was after he passed away, and he closely resembled Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose," Shukla said.

Surviving a smear campaign

The Times of India, Sep 11 2015

Kingshuk Nag

Siberian survivor to secretive sadhu... Netaji mystery lives on

How the legend of Subhas Chandra Bose survived smear campaigns

Late in June 1993, Ajai Malhotra, then information counsellor at the Indian Embassy in Moscow, was despatched by the ambassador to the offices of the bi-monthly Asia and Africa Today to investigate whether the magazine was proposing to run a story alleging that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was an agent of the MI-6, the external arm of British intelligence. The deputy chief editor, V K Tourdjev , said that they indeed were and said that the story was based on information ferreted from KGB archives. He also showed Malhotra, from a distance, a letter marked `top secret' and written by Colonel G A Hill of British intelligence on 11 December, 1943, to Colonel Osipov of Soviet intelligence that alleged that Bose had “cooperated“ with the MI-6. It also alleged that Bose had escaped to Kabul from house arrest in Calcutta with the full knowledge of the British intelligence.

By mid-1943, Subhas Bose was already in Singapore and had launched the Indian National Army with the cooperation of the Japanese.He was fighting the British, who were keen to get rid of the Indian patriot by hook or crook, tooth and nail.

In fact, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) -an irregular war-time sabotage agency set up at the instance of British PM Winston Churchill -had been ordered soon after Bose disappeared from Calcutta to “eliminate“ him, including by assassination. The SOE's branch office in Istanbul had been conveyed this direction, because the British intelligence expected Bose to move into Europe through Turkey . In the event, Subhas Bose travelled to Berlin via Soviet Russia, foiling the British attempt.

Meanwhile, British intelligence was also picking information that Bose could be interested in tying up with the USSR to liberate India. That is how the grand conspiracy was launched: portray Bose as a British agent and sow suspicions in the mind of the Soviets. This would serve the British purpose, if Bose hitchhiked with the Soviets. The Soviets would not be able to fathom that a patriot like him -who spent a whole life fighting the British -could even think of cooperating with them, much less be their agent.

As Netaji's bad luck would be, he broke into Soviet-occupied territory at the end of the World War after faking an air-crash in Taipei (the Justice Mukherjee Commission conclusively proved that no air crash took place). Subhas Bose believed that with the end of the War, it was only the Soviet Union with its antiimperialist credentials that could help to deliver India from the British yoke.Though he landed in Dairen in Manchuria (now Dallian in China), Bose's plan was to go to Omsk in Siberia.

During the War, a large part of the Soviet administration had shifted to Omsk because it was away from the German borders. Bose had himself sent his representative Kato Kochu (an assumed name of an Indian whose identity is yet to be established) to set up a mission of the Provisional government of Azad Hind.

What happened in Omsk is not known in precise detail but Subhas Bose fell to British misinformation.The Soviets had a bad track record of dealing with people they thought had doubt ful intentions and Bose was not their only victim.

Raoul Wallenberg, Swedish diplomat in war-time Budapest -controlled by the Third Reich -played a yeoman's role in saving the lives of hundreds of Jews by giving them Swedish documents. But when the USSR invaded Hungary , one of the first things they did was to gaol Wallenberg on charges of being an American spy . In World War II, the US and the Soviets fought on the same side but this did not deter them from acting against each other.Wallenberg never emerged from behind the Iron Curtain.

Bose possibly fell a similar victim although evidence has been seen by Russian researchers in KGB archives that in October 1946, Stalin was discussing with his foreign minister Molotov how to do deal with Bose. Analysts think Stalin, who had very rudimentary knowledge about India and thought very poorly of Indian leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi (on whose death he refused to send a condolence message), was persuaded by the British misinformation to despatch Netaji to the Gulag, at least for some time. That Netaji had no lobby in Kremlin working for him meant that his case went unrepresented. But he might have been kept alive because this was a necessity .

Stalin's relations with the new India were frosty and the Commissar felt that the newly independent country would become a proxy of the British and America in the emerging Cold War scenario.He may have decided to keep Netaji alive because a section of Soviet intelligence had indicated that he, rather than Gandhi and Nehru, was the right person for the Soviets to work with in India.

At what point Subhas Bose was released and how he reached India incognito is something that is yet to be unravelled. But when holy man Gumnami Baba died on September 16, 1985, in Faizabad, the story began to circulate that Netaji Subhas Bose has died. “I also heard the story and decided to investigate,“ says then college professor and journalist V N Arora. But this became a little difficult because the caretakers of the Baba had locked up his premises, putting multiple seals. “A few prominent local citizens like us then represented to the district magistrate to open the premises for us to investigate who this Baba was,“ Arora told TOI.

Taken in by the strong representation, the DM agreed and allowed Arora and others to inspect the premises for half an hour. “In the end, we came out after eight hours.There were an astounding range of books and documents pertaining to Netaji, including the dissent report of Suresh Chandra Bose (Netaji's elder brother) to the Shah Nawaz Committee that asserted that the patriot had died in the air crash. There was also the report of Radha Binod Pal who had dissented from the International Tribunal on whose report Japanese bigwigs, like H Tojo, the Japanese PM, were sent to the gallows. There were also books on contemporary politics and the original photograph of the Baba -the copy that had been released by Parliamentarian Samar Guha in the late 1970s to a newspaper, claiming that Netaji was in hiding.There were newspapers from 1964, with comments of the Baba on the side. All the stuff was later stored in the Faizabad district treasury where it still remains.

Arora did more research on who the Baba was and came across a man who, though he remained behind curtains, was perennially experimenting. For instance, he deliberately stayed in a house that had no electricity connections for six months. Yet, at the same time, the Baba only ate organically grown food and this was organized for him by Panda Ram Kishore, a leading tirth purohit of Ayodhya.

The Panda -whom Gumnami Baba used to call Nand baba -is now dead but Arora recollects a story told by him.“It was night in the dead of the winter and Gumnami Baba was sleeping in the room. Ram Kishore was sleeping outside with an angeethi to warm him. Suddenly , Ram Kishore realized that the Baba could be feeling cold. So he hastened inside to ask the Baba if he needed the angeethi. Baba replied: this body has lived in Siberia. It does not require warmth,“ Arora remembers Ram Kishore having told him.

His last stop

The Times of India, Sep 08 2015


Ram Bhawan, Bhagwanji's home; Picture courtesy: The Times of India, Sep 08 2015

Located on the busy Faiza bad-Ayodhya Road and close to the circuit house, Ram Bhawan, over the past few decades, has become a household name not only among residents of Faizabad, but also for millions of Netaji fans who view it as a temple that housed their idol and one of India's most valiant sons in exile, for almost three years. This was Bhagwanji's last stop, where he lived from November 1983 till his death on September 16, 1985. Recollecting the days spent with the ascetic whom he called Gumnami Baba, Thakur Shakti Singh says: “It was around mid-1983 that my father was asked by Dr RP Mishra, a surgeon at the district hospital, to rent out to him the small quarter at the back, which has a separate entry. He said it was for his `dada' who wanted peace and quiet for his spiritual practice, which he cannot get at home.“

Initially reluctant, Singh finally agreed to rent the room to the ascetic. After moving in, Gumnami Baba had a very strict policy on meeting visitors. He met very few people and only during late evening hours after he had finished his `sadhana'.The fortunate few who got to meet Bhagwanji were convinced he had special powers. “Once a person entered Ram Bhawan, he would be completely overwhelmed by Gumnami Baba's presence. The only person who had full access round-the-clock was his caregiver, the late Saraswati Devi Shukla, whom Baba used to call `Jagdambe'.“

Lalita Bose, Netaji's niece, visited Ram Bhawan in February 1986 after Bhagwanji's death. As soon as she saw the items in his room, she began to weep and said they belonged to Netaji. Later she urged the district magistrate to intervene, and even met then UP CM Veer Bahadur Singh. The latter suggested she move court. After the matter was brought to the notice of the court, the district administration was asked to shift 2,760 articles kept in Bhagwanji's room to the district treasury in as many as 25 trunks.

After Bhagwanji's death, an idea struck Singh. He used to see children playing around the room where Bhagwanji lived.“I called the children and asked them to describe the person who used to stay there. I also hired an artist to make the sketch on the basis of the children's description. When the artist turned the canvas towards us, we were astounded by the similarities between the sketch of Gumnami Baba and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose as he appeared in photographs,“ recalls Singh.

Theories regarding Netaji’s disappearance/ death

’Overloading led to plane crash:’ UK website

The Times of India Jan 04 2016

London

A UK-based website set up to chart the last days of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has released documents relating to the day before his plane crashed in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.

The website, citing documents, said that on August 17, 1945, Bose departed from Bangkok and arrived in Saigon. Several Indian and Japanese witnesses testified this to the 1956 Netaji Inquiry committee headed by Major General Shah Nawaz Khan.

In Saigon, due to Japan's surrender in World War II, the country's military headquarters were in a state of confusion. Thus, no plane was available to carry Bose to north-east Asia, as was the plan. Ultimately , General Isoda of Hikari Kikan, the liaison body between Japanese authorities and the Provisional Government of Free India and INA, conveyed to Bose that only two seats would be available on a plane heading for Tokyo.

Bose selected his ADC Col Rahman to go with him. Before the flight took off, there was an issue of overloading, following which Bose “discarded a part of his baggage“.While taking off, the plane needed almost the entire length of the runway to get airborne, suggesting it was still overloaded.

Among the Japanese passengers on board was Lt General Shidei, an officer on his way to Manchuria in China near the Soviet border to take command of the Japanese forces there. “ It was suggested that Netaji should accompany him to Manchuria,“ Negishi, a Japanese interpreter attached to Bose's headquarters, said. Because of the delay in departure from Saigon, the pilot decided on an unscheduled halt at Tourane instead of going all the way to Taiwan.

In Tourane, the crew offloaded “no fewer than 12 anti-aircraft machine-guns“ and ammunition, which reduced the weight by 600 kilos.The next day the plane crashed in Taiwan.

1963: Shalumari Ashram’s K K Bhandari?

The Times of India, May 30 2016

Kingshuk Nag

Was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose living incognito as `K K Bhandari' in 1963 in Shalumari Ashram in north Bengal? A reading of one of the files on Netaji, declassified on May 27, would seem to suggest that the topmost levels of the government were discussing this possibility in 1963. One of the declassified files refers repeatedly to the contents of this Netaji-asBhandari file but the latter file itself is not there. It all began with a letter sent to the Prime Minister (Jawaharlal Nehru) by Ramani Ranjan Das, secretary of the Shalumari Ashram “in connection with Subhas Chandra Bose“ in 1963. Immediately ,a reference was made by K Ram, principal private secretary to the PM, to the director of Intelligence Bureau (IB) B N Mallik in a top secret memo on May 23, 1963. On June 12, Malik replied in a top secret note (No III (51)63(6) about Bhandari.

Again, on September 7, the PMO made a top secret reference on the matter of Bhandari, followed by a reminder on November 11. The IB sent out a top secret reply on November 16.The contents of these exchanges remain secret. While the contents of these top secret ex changes on K K Bhandari of Shalumari Ashram remain secret, what they may pertain to is averred from the discussions in the PMO 37 years later in 2000.

Under pressure from the Justice Mukherjee Commission set up in 1999 to hand over copies of relevant files, officials of the Prime Minister's Office discussed whether the memos should be downgraded from top secret to secret and made available to the commission. In a note on July Netaji 5, 2000, the Under Secretary (NGO) writes: “As discussed with Director (A) where Under Secretary (Political) was also present, we may ask IB to concur with the downgradation of the two letters dated 1261963 and 16111963 sent to Director IB by Shri K Ram, PPS to PM about Shri K K Bhandari (believed to be Shri Subhas Chandra Bose).“

The appearance of Shalumari Baba had sparked nationwide rumours at the time that Subhas Bose had reappeared.The Mukherjee Commission stated categorically that he was not Netaji. But now it would seem that although the baba was not Netaji, the latter could have been living as K K Bhandari in the ashram.

1966: Was Netaji with Shastri at Tashkent?

The Times of India, Dec 13 2015

British expert Neil Miller feels that Netaji was the ‘mystery man’ at Tashkent ; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Dec 13 2015

Face-mapping reveals Netaji may have been with Shastri at Tashkent in 1966  Netaji researchers have produced the results of a forensic face-mapping analysis by a British expert which show a strong resemblance between Subhas Chandra Bose and a man photographed with the then PM Lal Bahadur Shastri during the Indo-Pak peace talks at Tashkent in 1966, over two decades after he was supposed to have died in a plane crash.

If the photographs are indeed those of Netaji, they nullify two theories -that he died in an air crash at Taihoku in 1945 and that he was executed by Joseph Stalin in the early 1950s.

According to Neil Miller, who has presented expert opinion in cases at the UK high court and International Court of Justice at The Hague, face-mapping of the Tashkent mystery man “lends support -leading towards strong support -to the contention that the person seen in the picture and Subhas Chandra Bose are one and the same person“.

The face-mapping report lends credence to a claim made by Shastri's kin, that the former PM might have spoken to Netaji during his Tashkent visit. Shastri mysteriously died of a heart attack in Tashkent on January 11, 1966. The former PM's grandson, Sanjay Nath Singh, who was nine then, recounted that during a phone conversation barely an hour before he was declared dead, Shastri had said he would disclose something on his return that would make the Opposition forget everything else.

The forensic face-mapping was commissioned by former Mission Netaji member and Dutch national of Indian origin Siddhartha Satbhai. The 36-year-old software professional, who had earlier highlighted the `Paris Man' -an unidentified bearded man resembling Bose and posing as a journalist in a group photo taken in Paris on January 25, 1969, during the Vietnam peace talks between the US and North Vietnam -sourced photographs and video footage from a variety of sources (British Pathe Online video archive, Topham Picture Point at Kent, UK, RIA Novosti in Russia, and Chughtai Museum in Pakistan's Lahore, as well as from the Anonymous Group -and had them analysed by Miller.

Miller examined the evidence for a month and then submitted a 62-page report last month, wherein he noted that there were noticeable similarities in the facial features of the two men, including ears, eyes, forehead, nose, lips and chin. The differences, like the hairline, could be attributed to image quality , capture angles, and items such as glasses and clothing that mask certain areas.

“Serious consideration must be given to the conten tion that the Tashkent Man (TM) and Subhas Chandra Bose (SCB) share very similar facial features and could potentially be one and the same person. In a level of support scale, the imagery -both still and moving -lends support, leaning towards strong support, to the contention that TM and SCB are one and the same person,“ Miller noted in the report.

The confirmation could have been stronger had the resolution of the photographs and video footage been better. In all the cases, TM appears behind others and, therefore, at a distance from cameras.

Researchers and Netaji followers in Kolkata helped Satbhai raise £800 to pay Miller's fee. Though they had initially tried to rope in an Indian expert, no one was willing to take it up. They then turned to an international expert, convinced that the report would be more credible with the examination free of bias.

Once the report arrived, they followed it up with RTI applications to the ministry of external affairs inquiring about the identity of TM.The government initially did not send a reply and then referred the matter to different desks, which said they had no information.

The team comprises Netaji's great grand-niece Rajyashri Chowdhury , nephrologist Shankar Kumar Chatterjee, researcher Jayanta Chowdhury , and Netaji activist Debasish Sen, among others.

Netaji's clothes caught fire after air crash

The Times of India Jan 10 2016

London

A UK website has released what it claims are eyewitness accounts of the day Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was reportedly killed in a plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.

Major Taro Kono, a Japanese air staff officer and one of the passengers, told the Netaji Inquiry Committee, “The engine on the left side of the plane was not functioning properly .“ Soon, after the aircraft was airborne there was a loud explosion and the plane caught fire. Colonel Rahman recounted: “Netaji got out through the fire, but his clothes were on fire. He was in cotton khakis, which caught fire more easily .“ Bose then told him, “When you go back to the country , tell the people that up to the last I have been fighting for the liberation of my country; they should continue to struggle, and I am sure India will be free before long. Nobody can keep India in bondage now.“

1968

The Times of India, Mar 29, 2016

1968 into Netaji's death, show documents

HIGHLIGHTS • An unstarred question No.1408 raised in the Lok Sabha in February 1968 was answered by the then government, saying there was no need for a fresh probe into Netaji's mysterious death.

The Indira Gandhi government had refused to set up a fresh inquiry into the mysterious death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as demanded by a large number of MPs in 1968, according to documents released.

An unstarred question No.1408 raised in the Lok Sabha in February 1968 was answered by the then government, saying there was no need for a fresh probe.

"The government has accepted the conclusion of the official inquiry committee appointed in 1956 that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose met his death in an air crash in the year 1945. Since no new facts have been brought to light, the government does not consider that any fresh inquiry is warranted," it said.

The first batch of 100 files, after their preliminary conservation, treatment and digitisation, was put in the public domain by Modi on January 23 on the 119th birth anniversary of the freedom fighter.

The Bose probes

The Times of India, Apr 12 2015

The Bose probes

Days after the Taihoku crash, rumours on whether Netaji had survived it began. Several panels have probed the matter

Figgess Report 1946

Found Bose died in Taihoku Military Hospital on Aug 18, 1945. Cause of death heart failure resulting from multiple burns and shock in crash near Taihoku airport. Cremated in Taihoku & ashes transferred to Tokyo

Shah Nawaz panel 1956

Khan was in the INA and the best-known defendant in the INA trials. Two members concluded Bose died in crash.Bose's brother Suresh declined to sign final report, wrote dissenting note saying the two withheld crucial evidence from him, that Nehru directed committee to infer death in crash

Khosla panel 1970

Retd CJ of Punjab HC GD Khosla tasked to probe Bose's “disappearance“ Concurred with reports, suggested political motives behind those denying crash

Mukherjee panel 1999-2005

Following a court order, SC judge MK Mukherjee headed team to probe death. Concluded there was secret plan to ensure Bose's safe passage to USSR with knowledge of the Japanese and Habibur Rahman. It observed ashes kept at the Renkoji Temple, reported to be Bose's, were of Ichiro Okura, a Japanese soldier. Govt rejected the findings

Report: Documents of Bose's disappearance, death were destroyed

The Times of India, Mar 30 2016

Himanshi Dhawan

Cong govts destroyed Netaji files: Declassified papers

The latest tranche of declassified papers related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, released by the BJP government, confirm long-held suspicions that documents on his disappearance and death were destroyed. This disclosure could become a political hot potato in the upcoming West Bengal polls. Documents belonging to the PMO on the Justice Mukherjee commission of inquiry mention that some files, including a proposal to keep Bose's ashes in a memorial at Delhi's Red Fort, were either not readily traceable or destroyed. Most of the files are likely to have been destroyed in the 60s and 70s, one file noting points out. The commission had sought photocopies of orders regarding destruc tion of filesdocuments concerning Neta ji as also photocopies of the lists of files documents destroyed.

The PMO had informed the commis sion that one file no. 12(226)56-PM has been destroyed on 6.3.1972; certain docu ments of file no. 23(156)51-PM have been destroyed while recording that file; and one file no. 2(381)60-66-PM (proposal to bring Shri Subhas Chandra Bose's ashes from Tokyo to put up a memorial to him in front of the Red Fort in Delhi) is not read ily traceable in our records. It is not immediately clear why these documents were destroyed or what their exact contents were, though there have been reports that Bose's death in the1945 aircrash was a smokescreen allowing him to escape to the then USSR.

Author Anuj Dhar, who has done extensive research on Netaji, said, I hate to tensive research on Netaji, said, I hate to draw this parallel, but just as the government is making an inquiry into missing correspondence concerning the Ishrat Jahan case, they should find out how documents of historical importance were destroyed by Congress governments. Under which rule of the official manual was a file concerning Subhas Bose's death destroyed in 1972 when the matter was under investigation by a judicial commission? The 50 files declassified on Tuesday include 10 from the PMO, 10 from MHA and 30 from MEA, and pertain to the period 1956-2009. The declassification of files on Netaji was started on his 119th birth anniversary , January 23, 2016, when PM Modi released the first lot of 100 files.

Surveillance by the Nehru government

Nehru-Bose: Some facts ; The Times of India
Nehru-Bose: Some facts ; The Times of India

The Times of India Apr 12 2015

FAMILY QUESTIONS - Was Nehru privy to a Netaji secret?

Subhro Niyogi

The extraordinary surveillance that Nehru's government mounted on Netaji's kin is akin to intelligence operations against suspected terrorists, shocked Bose family members told TOI in the wake of reports from two declassified files on Subhas Chandra Bose. The Nehru government's surveillance on Netaji's relatives is akin to intelligence operations against suspected terrorists, Bose family members say . “We knew we were being watched, but had no idea it was to this degree. The lengths to which intelligence operatives went to procure information --snooping on our mail, trailing family members--shows this was no ordinary surveillance. It reveals Nehru's anxiety about the Bose clan,“ said Chandra Bose, grandson of Netaji's brother Sarat. Of Netaji's six brothers and six sisters, he was closest to elder brother Sarat.

What the family finds difficult to explain is the motive behind the surveillance. Sarat Bose's daughter Chitra Ghosh says the initial years of spying, post-Independence, could've been a colonial legacy . “It was natural to be under watch during British rule. I don't believe it continued more than two decades without special instructions. It should've ceased after my father died in 1950. It didn't.“

Dwarakanath Bose, son of Netaji's brother Sunil, says Sarat's sons Amiya and Sisir weren't even politicians when surveillance was on. “ Amiya was a barrister and Sisir a pediatrician. Amiya joined politics in 1968 when he was elected MP , Sisir in the 1980s,“ he reasoned.

Was there a Bose secret that made Nehru wary? That appears logical, the family believes. Chitra is certain Nehru knew Netaji hadn't died in the crash but he might not have known where he had gone either. “It's perhaps this desperation to know where Netaji was and the insecurity playing on his mind that led to the surveillance,“ she said.

Sugata, son of Sisir Bose who drove the car from the Elgin Road house in the first leg of Netaji's Great Escape from house arrest in 1941, has another take. “Surveillance... intensified after 1957 when father began inviting former INA members to collect material for Netaji Research Bureau. Perhaps his actions were misconstrued and led Nehru to apprehend that he was preparing to mount a political challenge,“ said Sugata, Harvard professor and now Trinamool RS MP .

What family members find devious is Nehru's apparent friendliness with the family , particularly with Sarat and his son Amiya. Nehru stayed at 1 Woodburn Park during visits to Kolkata. “In 1949, we travelled to Europe to meet INA members...In Rome we met Quorini, Italian consul in Kabul at the time of the Great Escape.He had given Subhas an Italian passport in the name of Orlando Mazzotta. We met Netaji aides ACN Nambiar and NG Swamy . When we arrived in London, Nehru was there and he exclaimed, `What's Sarat doing here?'“ Chitra recounted.

MHA was reluctant to renew Amiya's passport before his Japan visit. “There was curiosity on why he was going to Japan, whether a trip to Renkoji where Netaji's alleged ashes are kept was on the itinerary ,“ says Chandra.

Efforts of Congress to shield Nehru

Graphic courtesy: The Times of India

The Times of India Apr 12 2015

Himanshi Dhawan

Sought info on Bose nephew's visit to Japan

The controversy over whether the Nehru government ordered surveillance on Netaji Subhas Chan dra Bose's family seems set to escalate following disclosure that the first PM had personally sought information on their whereabouts. Documents accessed by author Anuj Dhar for his book, `India's Biggest Coverup', show that Nehru, in a let ter dated November 25, 1957 to the then foreign secretary Subimal Dutt, sought to know what Bose's nephew Amiya Nath Bose was doing in Tokyo. In response, India's ambassador to Tokyo reported back assuring New Delhi that Amiya Bose had not “in dulged in any undesirable activities. Amiya Bose, son of Subhas's brother Sarat Chandra Bose, was known to be close to Netaji.

Dhar has researched Netaji Bose for the last 15 years and has accessed rare archival material from British and Indian national archives for his book.

The revelation deals a setback to Congress's effort to buffer Nehru against the snooping charge that the Intelligence Bureau reported directly to the home minister. Documents showing that Jawaharlal Nehru had sought information on Netaji Subhas Bose's nephew Amiya Nath Bose's activities in Japan deals a setback to Congress's effort to shield the first PM from charges of snooping by claiming that the Intelligence Bureau reported directly to the home minister.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi on Friday had alleged that the allegation that Nehru had spied on Bose's family for 20 years between 1948 to 1968 was a “systematic and sinister propaganda of selective leaks and half-truths in an attempt to tarnish the image of national icons and former home ministers like Vallabhbhai Patel, C Rajagopalachari, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Govind Ballabh Pant, Gulzarilal Nanda and others. The party has held that the IB reports to the home ministry seeking to contain the damage that the snooping was directed by Nehru himself.

“Just before I left for Japan, I heard that Shri Amiya Bose, son of Shri Sarat Chandra Bose, had reached Tokyo.He had previously , when I was in India, informed me that he was going there. I should like you to write to our Ambassador at Tokyo to find out from him what Shri Amiya Bose did in Tokyo. Did he go to our Embassy? Did he visit this Renkoji Temple? said Nehru's note to foreign secretary Dutt in November of 1957.

In response, then ambassador in Tokyo C S Jha wrote, “We have no information about Amiya Bose having indulged in any undesirable activities or expressions of opinion adverse to the Government of India or to its policies. I attach a copy of a news item on him in the Japan Times. As far as we have been able to ascertain, Amiya Bose did not visit Renkoji Temple.

Family under surveillance

Nehru govt spied on Subhash Chandra Bose's family for 20 years: Report

A timeline:1897-1946India Today
A timeline:1948-2014 India Today
The Bose family tree, India Today

The Times of India TNN | Apr 10, 2015

NEW DELHI: The Jawaharlal Nehru government had placed the family and relatives of Subhas Chandra Bose on surveillance for two decades, Times Now reported quoting de-classified intelligence reports.

Reacting to reports, the family of Subhas Chandra Bose sought full declassification of files that revealed that the Nerhu government had placed Bose family under surveillance.

However, taking the line adopted by the previous Congress-led UPA government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Office has already refused to disclose records related to Subhas Chandra Bose's death as it rejected the argument that there was a larger public interest involved in making them public.

Why snoop on the family?

India Today

"Nobody has done more harm to me, than Jawaharlal Nehru," wrote Netaji in 1939, in a letter to his nephew Amiya Nath Bose. The two claimants to Mahatma Gandhi's political legacy split when he chose Nehru over Subhas Bose as his political successor because he was uncomfortable with the latter's push for complete independence. Meanwhile, Nehru was uncomfortable with Bose's admiration for Nazi Germany and Facist Italy. Finally, Netaji resigned as Congress president in 1939. Historian Rudrangshu Mukherjee's 2014 book Nehru & Bose: Parallel Lives states that "Bose believed he and Jawaharlal could make history. But Jawaharlal could not see his destiny without Gandhi, and the latter had no room for Subhas".

Netaji however bore Nehru, eight years his senior, no ill will. He considered him an older brother and even named one of the INA regiments after him. Nehru publicly wept when he learned of Subhas Bose's death in 1945.

Why then would the Nehru government place the Bose family under such rigorous surveillance? Especially given Nehru's dislike of the cloak-and-dagger work. Former IB chief B.N. Mullick says in his 1971 book My Years With Nehru that the PM "had such a moral aversion to this work (espionage) that he would not allow us to operate even against the offending country's intelligence groups operating from the shelter of their diplomatic offices in India".

Nehru was the PM for 16 of the 20 years of the snooping. "There is only one reasonable explanation for this long surveillance on the Bose family by IB, which reported directly to Nehru," says BJP national spokesperson and author M.J. Akbar. "The government was not sure that Bose was dead, and thought that if he was alive, he would be in some form of communication with his family in Kolkata. Why would Congress be apprehensive about this? Bose was the only charismatic leader who could have mobilised opposition unity against the Congress, and offer a serious challenge in the 1957 elections. It is safe to say that if Bose were alive, the coalition that defeated the Congress in 1977 would have trounced Congress in the 1962 General Election, or 15 years earlier," he says.

The only documentary evidence that Nehru wanted to know what the Bose family was up to comes in a confidential November 26, 1957, letter the PM wrote to then foreign secretary Subimal Dutt. "Just before I left Japan, I heard that Shri Amiya Bose, son of Shri Sarat Chandra Bose, had reached Tokyo. He had, previously, when I was in India, informed me that he was going there. I should (sic) like you to write to our ambassador at Tokyo to find out from him what Shri Amiya Bose did in Tokyo. Did he go to our Embassy? Did he visit this Renkoji Temple?" The ambassador replied in the negative.

The Bose family's international itineraries, correspondence with German and Japanese officials and their travels through India meeting Netaji's former associates, led the IB to fear a resurrection of the INA. In one 1949 letter, Amiya Bose asks Sisir Bose, then a medical student in London, to find out whether any of the German generals were once again active in West Germany, particularly Hitler's former chief of staff General Franz Halder.

"There is clearly an element of government paranoia here," says Krishna Bose. "My husband was only trying to gather material to set up the Netaji Research Foundation. This foundation was set up only through correspondence." The IB however believed otherwise. A 'Top Secret' note from 1968 flags Amiya Bose. "The subject is now reportedly taking keen initiative in the formation of the Azad Hind Dal with ex-INA men. It is reported that he has succeeded in influencing some prominent persons both in the state and the Centre."

V. Balachandran, former RAW special secretary, believes the Bose fa mi ly was kept under surveillance because of their communist leanings. He points to the diaries of Guy Liddell, who headed MI5's counter-espionage wing during World War II. Published in 2012, they mention the British internal security service's umbilical ties with the IB. Monitoring communists was a priority for MI5, a legacy it passed on to the IB. During a visit to India in March 1947, Liddell claimed to have obtained the Nehru government's clearance for an MI5 security liaison officer to be stationed in New Delhi after the end of British rule. "The IB's obsession with tailing communists continued until Mrs Gandhi ended it in 1975," Balachandran says.

Spying on Netaji’s kin

The Times of India, Sep 19 2015

Revealed: Shocking scale of snooping on Netaji kin

After Independence, 14 intelligence officers snooped on two Bose family residences.Agents tracked every move of the members and opened all mail posted from or arrived at the twin addresses on Elgin Road and Woodburn Park. These surveillance reports, and those from the early 1940s, are compiled in 13 of the 64 files made public on September 18, 2015. It is shocking to see the amount of manpower and time devoted to spy on relatives of one of India's greatest sons, say Netaji followers. Even the letter Emelie Schenkl wrote to Sarat Bose, disclosing her relationship with Netaji and the presence of a child, was intercepted.

“I cannot believe the operation was so big.It's incredible that so much resource was put into tracking the family even after Independence. The surveillance wasn't half as strong during British rule. It has now emerged that several files were maintained on Netaji's elder brother Sarat Bose and every move that his sons Amiya Nath and Sisir made was tracked,“ said Amiya Nath's son Chandra.

The extraordinary surveillance spanning two decades left Netaji's kin shell-shocked when two files were made public in April 2015. Now, with more files emerging from the lockers, the family is stunned. Apart from two files on Amiya Nath and Sisir, there are eight files on Sarat Bose and one on contacts of the Bose family with the Japan consulate.

The family wonders why such a huge operation was mounted if the Centre believed Netaji had died in Taihoku. “Such operations are mounted against terrorists, not citizens and patriots. We were aware of the snooping but the scale of the operation takes my breath away .This reveals Jawaharlal Nehru's anxiety about the Bose family,“ said Chandra.

Sarat Bose's daughter Chitra is aware of Nehru's involvement in the snooping.“There's no reason why the state government would spend so much resource unless there was a diktat from the Centre. I believed Nehru and my father were on good terms,“ said Chitra.

Chitra believes Nehru was wary because he knew the crash was a hoax and feared Netaji was confabulating with his family from abroad.“Insecurity played on Nehru's mind,“ she said.

“The leaders behind the (snooping) move should be exposed. I demand an inquiry into why citizens of an independent country were put under surveillance,“ says Chandra.

Spying on Sisir and Amiya

The Times of India, Sep 19 2015

Rakhi Chakrabarty

Sisir, a reputed Kolkata paediatrician, drove the car Netaji used to escape from his Elgin Road house in 1940. Amiya, also a noted physician, participated in the Quit India Movement, became an MP and was the Indian ambassador to Myanmar.

Decades after independence, intelligence units of Bengal and the Centre's Intelligence Bureau were intercepting letters exchanged between Bose family members. Every move, especially of Sisir and Amiya were tracked by “agents“.

The declassified files contain letters and “secret weekly surveys“ of “activities“ of Bose family members up to the 1970s when Congress ruled Bengal and Siddharth Shankar Ray was CM.

IB too sought regular reports on the Bose family . One file show that on August 20, 1971 Delhi wrote to Bengal's intelligence branch asking “if there's anything adverse against Sisir Bose“. A veteran intelligence officer said: “These days, I don't think we track even criminals or terrorists like this.“

The weekly survey of the Calcutta Police security control for week ending August 26, 1965, includes a letter Sisir wrote to Tatsuo Hayashida seeking specific information on Netaji in Japan. Sisir wrote: “The Netaji Inquiry commission made a great mis take by not visiting Formosa and holding an investigation on the spot. Moreover, there was no judicial per son on the said com mittee.“

The great escape limousine

Wanderer sedan restored in 2017

Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay & Udit Prasanna Mukherji, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's great escape limo to zoom again, Jan 17, 2017: The Times of India


Seventy-six years after it became part of the great escape - taking Subhas Chandra Bose from his Elgin Road residence to Gomoh railway station to catch the Kalka Mail to Delhi - the iconic four door German Wanderer sedan has been restored to its original pristine vintage form.

On January 18, Sugata Bose, Netaji's grand-nephew and Trinamool MP, will drive the car with President Pranab Mukherjee on the rear seat to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the great escape. Bose has been practising driving the 1937 make car for the past few days. The sedan was driven regularly till 1957 by Sugata's father, Sisir Kumar Bose, who was also at the wheel during Netaji's escape from Kolkata. The restoration of the 1.8-litre limousine was not an easy job with the original maker, Auto Union of Germany, having shut down after World War II. But one of the four entities that the company metamorphosed into, Audi, was a big help.

"Audi gave technical expertise and a vintage car restorer, Pallab Roy, and his team started working in May 2016 to restore it fully. It is the most prized possession of the Netaji Research Bureau museum. Now, once a week, people will see this car in motion in the driveway of the building," said Sugata. The great escape was meticulously planned by Netaji - who was under 24x7 surveillance of the British - with his nephew Sisir. "There was a great deal of discussion on the choice of car. First it was decided to use the car of his elder brother, Sarat Chandra Bose. But it was too well known. Then it was decided to take the Wanderer, which was bought by Sarat Chandra Bose and registered (BLA 7169) in the name of Sisir Bose, my father. Back in 1937, the 1.8-litre four-door limo cost him Rs 4,680," said Sugata. It was in the middle of the night on January 16, 1941, that Netaji left home in the guise of Mohammed Ziauddin. He took the rear seat as Sisir, then only 21, drove the Wanderer from Kolkata to Gomoh and back.

Sisir Bose continued to drive the car till 1957. "I remember riding it regularly after my marriage in 1955," recalled Krishna Bose, wife of Sisir Bose and a former MP. "By then, the car had got a fresh coat of a black paint. Later, it was painted grey. Even as a baby, Sugata, my elder son, took many a drive in that car with us. At times it used to break down and I have so many memories of having to push it down Rashbehari Avenue," said Krishna Bose, now the chairperson of NRB Pallab Roy, who has suc cessfully restored a 1928 Studebaker President 8 State Limousine and a Mercedes 230 S 1967, was roped in by Audi in May 2016 to restore the car. "Audi took me to Netaji Bhaban and I immediately agreed because it was a chance to be part of history," said Roy. He started work on July 1 and will formally hand over the refurbished car to NRB on Tuesday. "We did it in record time. A restoration work like this takes more than a year. But this job was like a passion for me and I worked round the clock. My son, Sourav, too helped me," he added. The real challenge was to restore the engine, which was "in a bad shape", he said. Sugata Bose said the restoration is also a tribute to some excellent mechanics of Bengal.

See also

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: Biography

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: Ideology

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: After-1945

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: Declassified papers

Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army)

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