Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: Declassified papers

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Bose’s files: a top secret

The Times of India

Apr 12 2015

Subhro Niyogi

Nehru spying on Netaji's kin is chicken feed compared to the explosive content of files still marked highly classified, says Netaji researcher and activist Anuj Dhar. “A recently declassified report of British intelligence unit MI5 shows it was receiving information on correspondence of Netaji's nephew Amiya Nath Bose from IB three months after Independence. This is worse than the Watergate scandal! Not just Amiya and Sisir, even Suresh Bose who was deputy magistrate in Dumka was spied on,“ said Dhar whose persistent RTIs led to the declassification of 91 of the 202 Netaji files.There are other top-secret files on Netaji, including 39 highly classified, with PMO.

Both UPA and NDA governments have turned down the declassification demand from Bose's family and activists, citing reasons incomprehensible. The Manmohan government claimed putting the information in public domain could endanger internal security, spark possible unrest in Bengal, and damage relations with foreign nations. Modi's government said India's relations with certain countries could be jeopardized if files were to be declassified. “In a PIL, we sought a judicial commission to review the two governments' stands. We want the courts to decide if there's veracity in the threat perception or is it only a cover-up,“ said Rajeev Sarkar, of Kolkata-based NGO India's Smile. The HC bench of Justices Asim Banerjee and S Prasad on April 9 gave the Centre two weeks to explain its final stand, asking government to explain why the Central Information Commission's (CIC) July 5, 2007, order that all 202 Netaji files be made public, hasn't been complied with.The court asked CIC for its opinion. Anuj Dhar and Sabyasachi Dasgupta were instrumental behind the CIC order.

Under scrutiny too are four missing files: on Netaji's whereabouts and on the ashes at Renkoji Temple that figured in a home ministry affidavit submitted to the Mukherjee Commission December 19, 2001. Replying to RTIs made on the files, the home ministry said in 2013 that the four files were not there. “Our interest is not whether Netaji died or didn't die in the alleged plane crash. What we want to know is how many Netaji files are there and why are they so secret,“ said Sarkar, fearing, like Dhar, that files are being destroyed to suppress India's history. “If truth is exposed, history will have to be rewritten,“ said Sarkar.

Not spying: Pawar

NCP chief Sharad Pawar gave IB a clean chit on the Netaji snooping episode, saying the agency did it for security, not espionage. “IB has to keep an eye on key people who work in public life. “Govt would be accountable if anything happened to Netaji's family. IB kept an eye on his family for their own safety,“ he said.

Nehru spied on Netaji

Sandeep Unnithan, India Today, When Nehru spied on Netaji, April 9, 2015

The Intelligence Bureau has often been used by ruling parties to snoop on political rivals and even on their own family members.


20 Oct 1952

"Anita is doing quite well in health and school. She is growing in length and also quite well built, though by far not a fatty. They are having English lessons now at school which interest her quite a lot."

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's wife Emilie Schenkl wrote this letter from post-war Austria, when one of the few bright spots in her lonely life was their daughter. Netaji's nephew Sisir Kumar Bose, the letter's addressee in distant Kolkata, was not the first one to read it. Before he did, several Intelligence Bureau (IB) officials had quietly copied the letters and put them away into secret files on the Bose family. For over a half century, copies of this letter and several others like them sat in an unusual location: in the locked cupboards of the state IB office in Kolkata. Recently declassified by the Union Home Ministry and placed in the National Archives, these files now reveal independent India's dirty state secret. For two decades, between 1948 and 1968, the government placed the Bose family members under intensive surveillance. Sleuths intercepted, read and recorded letters of the family of a freedom fighter who was Nehru's political co-worker for 25 years. IB sleuths discreetly tailed family members as they travelled around India and abroad, recording in minute detail who they met and what they discussed. The surveillance was exactly as it would be today on a wanted terrorist's family-rigorous, methodical yet unobtrusive. The revelations have shocked the Bose family. "Surveillance is conducted on those who have committed a crime or have terrorist links. Netaji and his family fought for the freedom of the country, why should they be placed under surveillance?" asks his grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose.

Subhas Bose's only child Anita Bose-Pfaff, a Germany-based economist, says she is startled by the revelations. "My uncle (Sarat Chandra) was politically active until the 1950s and disagreed with the Congress leadership. But what surprises me is that my cousins could have been under surveillance, they had no security implications at all," she says.

Subhas Chandra Bose: A misguided patriot

Bose's Indian National Army (INA), raised from captured Indian prisoners of war in Japanese camps, was the fighting force of his Provisional Government of Free India. The INA clawed at the borders of the British-ruled subcontinent in 1943 and its troops were the first to raise the tricolour on Indian soil. Shortly thereafter, in 1944, the collapse of the Japanese army led to the retreat and eventual capitulation of the INA. Bose, 48, was thought to have died in an air crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945, three days after Japan's surrender to the Allied forces.

The incensed Bose family now wants speedy declassification of a clutch of top secret 'Netaji Files' which the government has held for nearly 60 years. These documentary revelations, they believe, could well be the tip of the iceberg. For close to a decade, RTI activists and researchers have believed the trove of still-classified files could shed light on the disappearance of the charismatic revolutionary. They have been stonewalled by the government.

"The entire country is impatient to know how Netaji died and under what circumstances," Rajnath Singh said in Cuttack last year when he was BJP president. Speaking on the eve of his birth anniversary last year, Singh promised to declassify the Netaji files if his government came to power. His government's response however has been same as UPA's. On February 2, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) told RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal that disclosure of the Netaji files held by the PMO would "prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries". The PMO gave an identical response to 'Mission Netaji', a pressure group of activists who have fought for declassification of the files since 2006.


The British CID had the two Bose family homes in Kolkata-1, Woodburn Park and the 38/2, Elgin Road-placed under surveillance at least since the 1930s. This was when the two Bose brothers, Sarat Chandra and his younger brother, Subhas Chandra, emerged at the forefront of the freedom movement in Bengal. The family had learned to live with the police glare. A CID officer once intercepted and duplicated a letter meant for Sarat Chandra but accidentally re-posted a copy. When he arrived at the Bose family doorstep to confess his mistake, the senior Bose told him to come back in a few days and recover it. Placed under house arrest in 1941, Netaji hoodwinked policemen and escaped the Elgin Road residence to land up in Nazi Germany. He was dubbed a fascist collaborator by the British who stepped up surveillance on his family members. As the declassified intercepts show, independent India's government was just as keen to spy on the family.

The IB has been routinely used by ruling parties to snoop on political opponents and even on their own family members. Former IB chief M.K. Dhar revealed in his 2005 book Open Secrets that PM Indira Gandhi ordered the IB to spy on Maneka Gandhi and her family because she suspected their political ambitions. But Netaji's two nephews, Sisir Kumar Bose and his brother Amiya Nath Bose, were political lightweights in the years they were snooped upon. They contested elections long after the papers show the IB had wound down its surveillance. Amiya Nath was elected as an MP from the Arambagh constituency on an All India Forward Bloc ticket only in 1968. Sisir Bose was elected to the West Bengal Legislative Assembly on a Congress ticket in 1987.

From the archives: Mukherjee panel goes globe-trotting in a bid to end Subhas Chandra Bose death mystery

The IB seemed obsessed in knowing what the family was doing and who they were meeting. A series of handwritten messages show IB agents phoned in 'Security Control', as IB headquarters was called, to report on the family's movements. But it was in the intercepted family mail that the IB relied on to know what the family was thinking. Netaji figured heavily in their correspondence. What else would the family discuss? The letters were mostly about mundane family matters. Netaji's wife discusses their economic hardships, bringing up her daughter Anita and repairs at their flat in Vienna. The Boses in Kolkata sent them money to meet their expenses. The IB annotated and underlined parts of the letters that had names of people meeting Emilie Schenkl to show what they were interested in. An IB comment on a 1953 letter describes her as "the alleged wife of Sri Subhas Chandra Bose".

"Most mysterious and shocking," says Krishna Bose, 85, wife of the late Sisir Kumar Bose. "Why on earth would they want to tail us?" the former three-term Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP wonders as she slowly leafs through the declassified IB documents in 38/2, Elgin Road, now the Netaji Bhawan museum. She laughs at how particularly effective the surveillance was because the family never had a clue. "My husband told me he felt like he was being followed to the hospital and when he was boarding a tram...but that was during the British era."

The surveillance offers a rare insight into the workings of one of the world's oldest intelligence agencies. The letter intercepts almost exclusively focused on the Elgin Road post office from where the unsuspecting Bose family posted their missives to the out- side world. Family members recorded their scepticism over the Shah Nawaz inquiry committee appointed by the Nehru government in 1956 and their disappointment over the lack of recognition for their uncle.

"If you were in India today," Sisir Bose wrote to Netaji's wife in 1955, "you would get the feeling that in India's struggle two men mattered- (Mahatma) Gandhi and (Jawaharlal) Nehru. The rest were just extras."

All family letters were copied and some shared with two bright stars of the IB in the headquarters in Delhi in the 1950s-M.L. Hooja, who later headed the IB in 1968, and Rameshwar Nath Kao, who founded the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in 1968. The man behind them all was Bhola Nath Mullick, Nehru's internal security czar who headed the IB for an unprecedented 16 years between 1948 and 1964.

That this surveillance was politically sensitive was a no-brainer. The 'Top Secret' and 'Very Secret' stamps on the files would restrict access to a very limited circle of officials. The files were stored in the steel cupboards of the IB's state headquarters in Kolkata's Pretoria Street, just a stone's throw away from the Bose residences.

"When Bengal's bhadraloks were regaled by a fictitious petty crime-solving Byomkesh Bakshi, real-life IB sleuths were performing feats that would give the CIA and KGB a run for its money," says Anuj Dhar, activist and author of India's Biggest Cover-Up that gives an investigative insight into the Netaji mystery.

The IB's surveillance was not restricted to Kolkata. A 1958 report from the Special Branch of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Madras reports the movements of Sisir Bose as he sets up the Netaji Research Bureau. A 1963 intercept has Amiya Nath's correspondence with ACN Nambiar, Netaji's former aide, then an Indian diplomat in Switzerland. The prying was not without irony. One of the senior IB officials reading the intercepts in Delhi was Nambiar's own nephew, A.C. Madhavan Nambiar.


"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.


Netaji was a somewhat late entrant into India's pantheon of freedom fighters. His portrait was unveiled in Parliament in 1978, possibly because it marred the Gandhian narrative of a non-violent freedom struggle. Over 2,000 INA soldiers who died fighting the British in Burma and the North-east were also sidestepped by history books. Over the years, the Bose legend has not only attracted admirers such as the LTTE's late chief Velupillai Prabhakaran but also a deluge of conspiracy theories. Bose was believed to have escaped to China and the Soviet Union, later returning to India where he lived as a 'baba' in Faizabad, UP, until his death in 1985. These theories were founded in his real-life escapades: Bose disguised as a Pathan to escape into Afghanistan, an Italian businessman to travel through Russia and finally hopped from a German submarine to a Japanese submarine in the Indian Ocean. The theories would have fizzled out but for the government's refusal to declassify the Netaji files.

"The fact that the files have not been declassified, when they should have been in the 1960s and 1970s, has only added to the Bose mystery," says Wajahat Habibullah. During his five-year stint as India's first chief information commissioner, Habibullah handled multiple requests for declassification of the Netaji files, all of which were turned down by the government.

Every government since Nehru's has told politicians, researchers and journalists that the contents of over 150 secret 'Netaji Files' are so sen- sitive that their revelations would create law and order problems, especially in West Bengal. Worse, they would "spoil India's relations with friendly foreign nations". The Modi government in 2014 deleted the law and order fallout of the revelations but maintained the official line. Responding to a query from Trinamool Congress MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary said, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on December 17, 2014, declassification was "not desirable from the point of view of India's relations with other countries". Five Netaji files locked in the PMO are so secret that even their names have not been disclosed under the Right to Information Act.

What terrible state secrets sit in those files locked in the PMO? Secrets, which in the words of Roy, made Rajnath Singh go from an espouser of the truth to someone who "sat in the Lok Sabha, silently nodding his head while I asked for declassification".

"How can Netaji's death in an air crash be blamed on foreign countries?" Roy asks. "There are clearly some other reasons which both the BJP and Congress want to cover up."

Three Prime Ministers, Nehru in 1956, Indira Gandhi in 1970 and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999, appointed inquiry committees to uncover the truth. Two of them, the Shah Nawaz Committee in 1956 and the Khosla Commission in 1974 said Netaji died in a plane crash. Their findings were rejected by then Prime Minister Morarji Desai in 1978. The Justice (M.K.) Mukherjee Commission's suggestion that Netaji had faked his death and had escaped to the Soviet Union was rejected by the UPA government in 2006.

Often, the inquiries have fuelled speculation. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy picks out the testimony of Shyam Lal Jain, Nehru's stenographer who deposed before the Khosla Commission in 1970. Jain swore he had typed out a letter which Nehru then sent to Stalin in 1945 in which he admitted knowing of Bose's captivity.

"The plane crash was a ruse. Netaji sought asylum in the Soviet Union where he was imprisoned and later killed by Stalin," Swamy claims. Bose family members, including Anita Bose-Pfaff, want reports lying with the Centre and state governments to be declassified. "A special investigative team with representatives from the PMO, foreign ministry, IB, CBI and historians need to research those papers and reveal to the public the story of Subhas Bose," says Chandra Kumar Bose. If the current revelations are anything to go by, the Netaji files could bring the curtains down on India's longest running political mystery.

British agency MI5

Graphic courtesy: The Times of India

The Times of India Apr 12 2015

Documents reveal Nehru govt shared info on Netaji with MI5

Himanshi Dhawan

Not only did the Nehru government snoop on Netaji Subhas Bose but also shared confidential information with British intelligence agency MI5. Recently , declassified documents reveal India's Intelligence Bureau shared with MI5 a letter between close Netaji aide A C Nambiar and nephew Nambiar and nephew Amiya Nath Bose acquired through “secret censorship and even sought more information on the subject. The MI5 documents have become public at a time when Indian secret documents reveal that the late PM Jawarharlal Nehru had authorized surveillance on freedom fighter Netaji Bose's family including nephews Amiya Bose and Sisir Kumar Bose.

In a letter written on October 6, 1947, IB official S B Shetty sought “comments of MI5 security liaison of ficer K M Bourne posted in Delhi referencing a letter written by Nambiar to Ami ya Bose on August 19, 1947.“The attached is a letter dat ed the 19.8.47 from A C Nam biar, Limmatquai 80, Zurich, Switzerland to Amiya Nath Bose, 1 Woodburn Park, P O, Elgin Road, Calcutta. The letter was seen during secret censorship and was passed on. We should be grateful for your comments on the let ter, the note said.

In response, Bourne for warded Nambiar's letter en closing his request for fur ther information to MI5 director general the next day itself. Dated October 7, 1947, Bourne's letter says, “Any comments you may make on this letter will be appreciat ed. The letter could be about Bose's wife and daughter though the context is unclear.

Two letters, written just months after India's independence, are part of 2000 pages of MI5 declassified doc uments that were made pub lic last year. The documents were accessed by author Anuj Dhar who has spent 15 years researching Bose.

They raise serious questions about the confidentiality of Indian intelligence documents and the security establishment's doubts over Bose and his links with the Axis powers --Germany and Japan. Both nephews Amiya and Sisir, sons of Sarat Chandra Bose were on surveillance, according to the documents. Only 10,000 of the 70,000 pages of the voluminous records were made public three months earlier.

Other involved security and intelligence agencies

The Times of India Apr 12 2015

V Balachandran

IB played junior partner to MI5 well after 1947

We often think security and intelligence services are bestowed with greater intelligence than bureaucracy . Law rence J Peter of “Peter Principle“ said “Bureaucracy defends... status quo long past when quo has lost its status“. Security and intelligence establishments often follow this policy resulting in hilarious situations.Before 1947 IB was controlled by MI5, Britain's domestic intelligence service and a department called “Indian Political Intelligence“ (IPI), run by India Office, Scot land Yard and India government.

IPI, started by a lone Indian police officer in 1909 to keep vigil on revolutionaries, grew into a massive organization by World War II. By 1935, arrangements were made in all colonies integrating intelligence, police and security organizations to face freedom strug gles. From 1919, Britain considered the “Red Menace“ as their top challenge.

Our bureaucracy and IB continued that policy till 1975 when Indira Gandhi admonished them during the annual IB conference, which I attended.

After 1947 this MI5-IB liaison continued.An unwritten agreement during the transfer of power in 1947 was the secret positioning of a security liaison officer (SLO) tioning of a security liaison in New Delhi as MI5's representative. This was obtained by Guy Liddel, then deputy D-G, MI5, declassified archives say .

Normally , any intelligence liaison with an independent country should've been maintained by Britain's foreign intelligence service -MI6. But MI5 resisted such attempts till 1971. British archives quoted then IB director S P Verma writing to the MI5 chief that he didn't know “how he'd manage without a British SLO“, when told about his withdrawal.

IB followed Britain's intelligence priori ties. British archives reproduced a letter from the late T G Sanjeevi Pillai, IB's first director, on the need for liaison with MI5. Sanjeevi didn't like V K Krishna Menon, a Nehru confidante. The dislike was shared by Liddel who assured his government: “We're doing what we could to get rid of Krishna Menon“. They didn't succeed. B N Mullik, second director, continued this policy . According to British archives he “encouraged“ Walter Bell, then SLO, to visit IB's headquarters to see its work on preventing communist subversion.fied British archives speak of dis Declassified British archives speak of disconnect between Nehru's policies and IB's priorities. This was evident during the exchange visits of Soviet leaders Bulganin and Khrushchev to India and Nehru's USSR visit heralding closer Indo-Soviet ties in 1955. One year later there was a chill in Indo-UK ties when Nehru condemned the Anglo-American invasion on the Suez. This “had little impact“ on the IBMI5 collaboration. IB allowed MI5 to study its records on Moscow's subsidies to Indian communists. In 1957, Mullik wrote to Roger Hollis, MI5 chief: “...I never felt I was dealing with any organization which was not my own“.

Christopher Andrew, official MI5 historian, concludes: “Nehru either never discovered how close the relationship was or -less probably-did discover and took no action“.

This needs to be kept in mind before concluding Nehru ordered IB snooping on Netaji's family. Declassified IPI records indicate Bose was under watch since April 1924. In 1922 revolutionary Abani Mukherjee was sent by Comintern to India. Purabi Roy , Netaji's biographer says he spent 11 months in Calcutta.British intelligence must've started watch over Subhas and his family after this. A full picture will be available only if we declassify all our Bose records.

IB tailed relatives to find truth

The Times of India, Sep 25 2015

Picture courtesy: The Times of India, Sep 25 2015

Kingshuk Nag

IB did not believe Netaji died in 1945 air crash

Snooped on kin to get info on leader's whereabouts

The Intelligence Bureau was sleuthing on relatives of Subhas Chandra Bose because they did not know about his whereabouts but were sure that he had not died in any air crash. “We knew he was not dead but were not sure where he was. We suspected he was in Soviet Union or Japan,“ a retired top official of Intelligence Bureau told TOI.

The entire operation was scripted by Bhola Nath Mullick, who was director of IB from 1948-68, the retired official revealed. He further said that Mullick had tremendous hold over the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and was snooping on Netaji relatives to serve the political interests of the latter.

“We were aware that if Netaji made an appearance suddenly he would have given Nehru a run for his position. This was the compelling reason why it was imperative that Netaji's whereabouts be found out. But in the end we could never find out precisely where Netaji was,“ the official said but refused to be identified. When asked why there was suspicion about Netaji's presence in Japan which had lost the World War II, the former sleuth said that this because he was last heard of officially in Japanese territory in Saigon.

For the purpose of Subhas Bose, Mullick had also taken the help of MI-5, the British intelligence agency . Copies of intelligence gathered by IB were shared with the British agency and sometimes help was taken from MI-5 to develop the leads further, the ex-IB sleuth said. In fact, an MI-5 liaison office was allowed to be operated from New Delhi. Often data about financial help given by USSR to the Communist Party and other agencies was forwarded to MI-5. London was interested in what was happening behind the Iron Curtain be cause of the Cold War that had begun almost immediately after the conclusion of the World War II.

“It was for the yeoman's service rendered to Nehru that Mullick continued in his position for two long decades. Nehru could not think of allowing him to go,“ the retired sleuth, who later served in Research and Analyses Wing (RAW), said.Incidentally , Mullick belonged to Calcutta, the same city as Subhas Bose but had cultivated an anti-Netaji sentiment because that is what worked in the Nehru regime, the official who now lives in quiet retirement told TOI.The official worked in India's intelligence outfits from the 1950s to the 1990s. Although an IPS officer, he spent his entire career in intelligence.

“We reasoned that Netaji, wherever he was, would try to get in touch with his close relatives like nephews Amiya Nath Bose and Sisir Bose.That is why their correspondence was intercepted,“ the exIB official told TOI. The interception of the mails of Bose family members was organised by the IB office in Calcutta and the head of the office was a top favourite of Mullick.

It is interesting to note that even while IB was trying to trace the whereabouts of Netaji, the Nehru government in its public utterances kept on insisting that Subhas Bose had died in the air crash.Even an official committee under Shah Nawaz Khan was set up in 1956 that insisted that Netaji had died in the air crash. The report was accepted by the government. Khan, a former INA officer, had by the time he had been appointed head of the committee become a member of the Nehru establishment and a deputy minister at the Centre.

1990s: Correspondence between India and Russia

The Times of India, Dec 09 2015

Kin releases secret India-Russia letters on Netaji's whereabouts

 A new set of documents set to shed light on the last days of Subhas Chandra Bose and his 70-year-old death mystery has been released here that include parts of classified correspondence between the Indian and Russian governments on the whereabouts of Netaji. The documents, set to be released in a phased manner by UK-based independent journalist and Bose's grandnephew Ashis Ray , debunks the popular notion that Bose entered into Soviet Union in 1945, the year of his death as per records. It includes material Ray claims to have collected in Taiwan, Japan, Pakistan, the National Archives in Britain and the British Library, as well as from the Indian and Russian governments and some intelligence documents.

The first set of documents released this week claims to show two official exchanges between the Indian embassy in Moscow and the Russian foreign ministry . The first dated September 16, 1991, requests the Russian government to share “any material that sheds light on the fate of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose“.

Commenting on the significance of documents released yesterday , Ray said: “The serialisation will emphatically prove what happened to Subhas Chandra Bose towards the end chart of his life hour by hour.“

1st tranche of declassified files

The Times of India, January 24, 2016

The more significant revelations contained in the first tranche of files, declassified in Jan 2016; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, January 24, 2016
How the Congress, Gandhi and Nehru reacted to the new of Netaji’s ‘death’; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, January 24, 2016

January 2016: 100 files declassified

The Hindu, January 23, 2016

Congress paid stipend to Bose family

The present Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the digital copies of 100 files related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 119th birth anniversary at the National Archives of India (NAI).

Out of the 100 files, 33 of them are from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). The rest contains communications between the Government of India and the governments of Russia and Japan. The files have been digitised and uploaded on the website of the NAI.

One of the declassified documents on Bose reveal that his Germany-based daughter Anita Bose had visited India in 1960 and stayed at the official residence of then-Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Congress had been sending Rs. 6,000 per year to Bose's daughter until 1964. The party ceased to send money as Anita got married to Martin Pfaff, an American citizen, in 1965.

The document also reveals that Bose's wife, Emilie Schenkl, who was a German national, refused to accept the money from Congress.

Ms.Schenki, according to the government document, was Bose's private secretary during his stay in Germany.

Specific info requested

Bose's nephew, Ardhenu, said the Government of India should ask Russia if it could share more information related to his visit to the country. The family also demanded that DNA test be conducted on Bose's ashes. However, medical experts are of the opinion that such an exercise would be futile.

Earlier, the Prime Minister paid rich tributes to Bose, saying generations of Indians remember him for his bravery and patriotism.

“Remembering Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his birth anniversary. His bravery and patriotism endears him to several Indians across generations,” he tweeted.

“Today is a special day for all Indians. Declassification of Netaji files starts today.”

25 files, every month

The NAI also plans to release digital copies of 25 declassified files on Bose in the public domain every month.

“The National Archives of India is placing 100 files relating to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in public domain after preliminary conservation treatment and digitization. On the occasion of the birth anniversary of Netaji, the Prime Minister will release the digital copies of these files in public domain,” an official release said on Friday.

The first lot of 33 files were declassified by the PMO and handed over to the NAI on December 4, 2015.

March 2016: Files confirm Netaji survived 1945 air crash

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."

2019: All records, files declassified

Dec 4, 2019 Times of India

The government has declassified all records and files associated with Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and made them available to the National Archives of India, culture minister Prahlad Patel told Lok Sabha in response to a question by BJP MP Satyadev Pachauri.

Patel said the government had declassified 304 files relating to Bose and Azad Hind Fauj, and that 303 were already uploaded on the Netaji web portal,

The minister also said the National Archives of India was the custodian of all declassified files and records of the government of India. The existing corpus of material on Netaji is in addition to the material the National Archives had received in 1997, in which 990 declassified files pertaining to the Azad Hind Fauj was given from the defence ministry. A second batch of material was declassified in 2012, containing 1,030 files pertaining to the Khosla Commission and Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry from the home ministry.

’Death’ reports

The Japanese government’s inquiry

See Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: Biography

Cabinet note on Netaji’s reported ‘death’

The Times of India, Jan 24 2016

Akshaya Mukul & Mohua Chatterjee

No new info, except Cabinet note on death

A hundred secret files relating to Subhas Chandra Bose made public by PM Narendra Modi on the 119th birth anniversary of the freedom fighter on Saturday do not throw new light on much of the existing narrative on Netaji, except for a Cabinet note of February 1995 saying he had indeed died in an air crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945. “There seems to be no scope for doubt that he died in the air crash of August 18, 1945 at Taihoku,“ said the note, adding that the government had accepted that position. In fact, bulk of the secret Netaji files made public on Saturday relate to hundreds of petitions and demands for fresh inquiry into Subhas Chandra Bose's death made by politicians, family members and well-wishers from 1960s till now.

A host of suggestions were made in these representations, including one by journalist Ashish Ray asking Narasimha Rao to get a DNA test conducted of the ashes of Bose kept in Renkoji Temple in Japan. Though bizarre, another suggestion by D N Sinha of All India Qaumi Ekta Committee suggested that bringing Netaji's ashes to India would fetch Congress an extra 1020% votes.

National Archives of India will release into the public domain digital copies of 25 declassified files every month.However, some of the declassified files give an interesting insight into how Jawaharlal Nehru's government treated Bose's legacy .Papers show that since October, 1950, Bose's wife and daughter, based in Vienna, were being financially helped through various government channels, from the Indian mission in Switzerland to Nehru sending a cheque of 100 pounds to her.

A note signed by Nehru (March 14, 1954) shows Rs 2 lakh were set aside for mother and daughter. It was proposed that a trust comprising Nehru, B C Roy and Bo se's wife would be formed and that the money would be sent through non-official source like AICC. Every quarter, Nehru wrote, Rs 1500 -roughly the interest on the corpus -will be sent to the family.

An interesting bit about Bose's death relates to a `treasure box' which some Indians associated with him and which had been given to the head of the Indian mission in Tokyo. The box containing 20,000 yuan (Rs 265 and 10 anna) and gold and jewellery was handed over to the foreign ministry and finally kept in the National Museum.

In 1971, the box was opened and a detailed list was prepared. The file contains the list of each and every item whose total value was more than a lakh rupees. However, the file also mentions that one person who deposed before the Shah Nawaz Khan inquiry committee said the box was tampered with.

Another file talks about letters from Lalita Bose who ran the Netaji Mission in Calcutta, writing to PM Morarji Desai to have a statue of Netaji in front of Red Fort, and have a public holiday in schools and colleges across the country on 23 January and also to provide land for the Mission, but the PM refused to oblige any of the three requests, giving his reasons in a polite letter. (File no 3, NSC Bose)

Wartime activities

British never called him a war criminal

The Times of India, May 29 2016

Prithvijit Mitra 

Netaji never labelled a war criminal by British: PMO files

 Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was never labelled a war criminal by the British, reveals classified PMO documents on the revolutionary released.

The final set of 24 classified files included a correspondence between the Permanent Mission of India in New York and the external affairs ministry in 1999. It reveals that the UN's Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects (CROWCASS) had no reference to Netaji, setting to rest speculations that Bose figured on the list, which possibly made him wary of returning to India post-1945.

The letter dated April 6, 1999 is a part of file number 91S11C2 2000-PO1 and clearly mentions that the CROWCASS lists do not contain any reference to Netaji.

The disclosure buries for good the `war criminal' controversy , says Netaji researcher and author Anuj Dhar. “A lot of time and energy have been wasted on the issue. Thankfully , it has now been put to rest. Netaji was never tagged a war criminal and his actions were never influenced by the fact that he could be persecuted due to the label,“ said Dhar. He added that it was an American journalist who had first mentioned the possibility of Netaji being branded a war criminal by the British in 1945. “The CROWCASS is an exhaustive list of war criminals and suspects from around the world that had been prepared at the end of the Second World War. If Netaji's name doesn't figure in it, then obviously the British didn't tag him.“

Netaji's grandnephew Chandra Bose said the disclosure would help to take the probe forward. “However, I refuse to accept this is the final set of files.These could be the last set that the PMO had handed over to the National Archives. We are still at the initial stages of solving the Netaji disappearance mystery.“

Russian magazine calls Bose a `Brit agent'

The Times of India, May 28 2016

Himanshi Dhawan

 Russian mag claim of Bose as `Brit agent' spooked govt in 1993

An article in a Russian magazine in late 1993 alleging that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was a “British plant“ sent Indian authorities into a tizzy, with the Narasimha Rao government proposing to take up the issue at a diplomatic level to prevent further write-ups on the subject. According to the Netaji papers declassified by the National Archives on Friday , then home secretary N N Vohra took up the article -`Whom Subhas Chandra Bose fought against during the Second World War' -by V Touradzev Asia and Africa in bi-monthly ` Today' with the PMO. Vohra's note dated April 20, 1994, said the article intended to show that “Netaji cooperated with British secret service MI6 and was a British plant in the heart of the Axis powers... Although the allegations are based on indirect evidence and are more or less speculative...they have serious potential of whipping up popular sentiments in India.“ The entire findings are based on alleged Soviet intelligence reports from Afghanistan and other places. There is reportedly a separate file on Netaji in the KGB archives,“ home secretary N N Vohra's note to the PMO in 1994 said.

The note added, “In view of the sensitivity of the matter, we feel it would be prudent to take pre-emptive action to forestall further publication of such articles. MEA has, therefore, been asked to take up the matter with the Russian authorities at an appropriately high level to prevent publication of similar articles in future.“

Summarising the inputs from intelligence agencies and other ministries, Vohra wrote that while the external affairs ministry felt there was no need for an over-reaction, the Intelligence Bureau was of the opinion that such publications alleging links of Netaji and his associates with MI6 and KGB will evoke “widespread reactions and could cause discomfiture to the government. People in India would consider it to be a sinister design to tarnish the image of Netaji. R&AW has expressed similar views and is of the opinion that the possible replay of these write-ups in the Indian media has explosive potential“.

Emilie Schenkl,wife

MHA had no records of Schenkl or Pfaff

The Times of India, May 28 2016

MHA didn't have any Schenkl note till 1979: Netaji files

The ministry of home affairs had no records of Netaji Subhas Bose's Austrian wife Emilie Schenkl and his daughter Anita Pfaff till as late as 1979 though the freedom fighter was understood to have married Schenkl in 1937.

Documents declassified by the National Archives of India on Friday reveal that there was apprehension within the government about Bose's reported marriage after a member of the All India Freedom Fighter's Samity , Arun Ghose, wrote to West Bengal governor T N Singh declaring the marriage a “conspiracy by pro-British Congressmen to malign Netaji's character“. Singh in turn wrote to Union home secretary TCA Srinivasavaradan asking the ministry to trace records related to the marriage. However, the home ministry's foreigners section and IB had no records on the subject.

In his letter dated August 30, 1979 to West Bengal governor T N Singh, Ghose urged that official records be collected and verified describing the marriage and the subsequent birth of a daughter as, “A conspiracy duly hatched up by the Allies in collaboration with pro-British Congressmen to assassin the pious character of ardent bachelor Netaji Bose.“ (sic) Singh in a letter to the then home secretary dated September 1, 1979 sought records from the home ministry on the marriage. “To the best of my recollection Sardar Patel in his lifetime came to know of a daughter born to Netaji Bose in Germany as a result of a marriage with a foreign girl.There must be some record in the home ministry as some money was remitted to her for her education and maintenance.“ Singh admitted that Pfaff had met him along with Dr Sisir Bose and had been introduced as Netaji's daughter.

A subsequent note from the foreigners section of MHA said that there were no records related to Netaji's marriage and daughter either with them or the IB. MHA had written to PMO, MEA, R&AW, However the papers do not show any further communication.

Jawaharlal Nehru and Netaji

`Jawaharlal' calls `Subhash' war criminal at ‘10, Down Street’

The Times of India, January 24, 2016

The letter purportedly written by Nehru to Atlee calling calls `Subhash' a war criminal; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, January 24, 2016

`Jawaharlal', and not Nehru, called Bose war criminal

The political war over the legacy of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose heated up, with Congress accusing the government of deliberately creating a controversy over a purported letter by Jawaharlal Nehru allegedly calling Bose a “war criminal“ and BJP hitting back, saying the main opposition party should apologise for the disrespect it had shown to the legacy and memory of the freedom struggle icon. Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma angrily called the letter “fake and mi schievous“ and aimed at maligning the party . The so-called letter has been doing the rounds of social media and websites without any substantiation and the 100 secret Netaji files declassified on Saturday by PM Narendra Modi have no reference to it.

But the emotive issue was enough to spark off another round of accusations with Sharma saying, “It's a deliberately created controversy to mislead people and a bid to belittle the great achievements of stalwarts of the Indian freedom struggle.“

But BJP said it was an example of Congress tarring the image of leaders with a different viewpoint. One of the disclosures in the Netaji files, made public on his 119th birthday on Saturday , is that Nehru had written to then British PM Clement Attlee about Subhas Chandra Bose, saying, “Your war criminal has been allowed to enter Russian territory by Stalin. This is a clear treachery and betrayal of faith by the Russians, as they were allies of the British and the Americans. Please take care and do what you consider proper and fit.“

While this would appear to confirm a testimony by a stenographer, Shyam Lal Jain, who had told the Khosla Commission set up in 1970 to investigate Netaji's death that he had typed such a letter dictated by Nehru in December 1945, the Congress jumped at the typographical and factual errors to claim it was a hoax.

In the type-written letter, Jawaharlal is spelled `Jwaharlal', the office address of the British PM (described as prime minister of England) given as 10, Down Street, and Subhas spelled as `Subhash'.

A facsimile of the letter soon began circulating online and went viral following which Congress described it as a mischievous act to defame Nehru. “We have said from the very beginning that this is a deliberate controversy ,“ Congress spokesman Anand Sharma said in Delhi.

Besides the several egregious errors, the letter does not bear the watermark of National Archives of India. All other documents declassified on Saturday carry this watermark. It bears Nehru's name as sender but doesn't have his signature. And Russia is misspelled as `Rassia', and yours sincerely as `your sencerely'.

Jain has said he was a ste nographer to Congressman Asaf Ali and the dictation was taken at Ali's residence. Jain also said Nehru, in another letter, had stated that Bose had landed in Diren in Manchuria, and had a meal of banana and tea. Thereafter, he disappeared in a jeep along with Japanese General Shedai and a loaded trunk.

For reasons unknown, the Khosla commission did not take note of Jain's testimony , which asserted that Nehru did not believe Netaji had died in the Taihoku air crash, but thought he had escaped to Russia.

A year later, when Nehru came to the Bose household in Calcutta, he told Netaji's elder brother Sarat Bose that Netaji had died in the air crash. He also presented a watch saying it was recovered from the crash site. Sarat Bose said this was not the watch Netaji wore and rejected the theory of his death.

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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