The Mystery behind Netaji's Disappearance by Shamoli Mitra
For decades Indians all over the country have mulled and argued over a mystery that till today maintains its grip over the collective consciousness of the nation. The question that comes up again and again in the minds of Indians is this - Did Netaji really die in the 1945 plane crash? But shocking new developments over the past few months have propelled this question into ever more mysterious realms. Incredibly hard facts have now emerged from Moscow vaults that indicate what Indians had hoped for and suspected all along - that our beloved Netaji , Subhash Chandra Bose did NOT die in the 1945 plane crash as the Government of India appointed inquiry has claimed all along. Netaji was in fact very much alive till at least 1946 one full year after his supposed "death".
So what do these tumultuous revelations mean? The new findings are based on declassified documents in the Russian military archives in Paddolsk, and from the British archives. They were discovered by three researchers-Purabi Ray, Hari Vasudevan and Shobanlal Dutta Gupta-working on the history of communist movement in India.
The plot has thickened even deeper with the admission by these researchers that they have been receiving threatening calls from unidentified persons asking them to suspend all further inquiries and end the government-funded research. Fear for security led the work on the project to be stopped shortly, around the middle of this year. The researchers refused to speak to the press on the grounds that they would first have to depose their discoveries before the Mukherjee commission, the third inquiry panel appointed by the Indian government so far) before giving out any details.
What is clear however is that the Russian archives had yielded two precious documents. The first concerned a discussion that Joseph Stalin had with his defense minister Voroschilov and foreign affairs minister Molotov in 1946.
The second was a report filed by a Soviet field agent stationed in India, also in 1946.The first document quotes Stalin and others discussing plans for the communist movement in India and mentions the role of Bose. In addition records available from British archives (under the 'declassification after 30 years' rule) show that on August 17, 1945, (the plane crash was reported the next day), Bose had expressed a keen desire to reach Soviet Union to continue the struggle against the British. One more British archive document also states that the entire theory of the plane crash, in Taihuku (Japan), was pre-planned and contrived. In fact as late as December 20, 1945 , a Japanese newspaper even reported that Bose was on his way to the Soviet Union and passed through Tokyo.
Adding to the clouds of confusion are the details indicating that just a few days before Stalin and his colleagues discussed Bose, a Soviet agent named V G Sayadyants who was based in Mumbai reported home that "the Soviet Union cannot possibly work with either Nehru or Gandhi," and that the Communist movement in India "is in a disarray." He also concluded that "Bose is the only hope for Soviet Russia," in his report.
The two death reports-one from MI2 (a wing of British military intelligence) and the other from the British embassy in Japan served as the primary evidence of the story that Bose had died of severe burns in the plane crash. But both of these reports have been discovered to contain major discrepancies. While the British embassy report claimed to have clearly identified Bose's body, the MI2 report was "not sure."
On November 23, the Mukherjee Commission held a hearing where the researchers including Professor Purobi Roy were asked to submit a list of documents and with their respective translations before the Commission. But in a puzzling development the Commission disclosed that the Union Home Ministry by an affidavit claimed privilege under the Sections 123 and 124 of the Evidence Act and Article 74(2) of the Constitution of India on the files. Justice Manoj K. Mukherjee told reporters that "The files on the urn allegedly containing Netaji's ashes in Renkoji Temple and the Union Government's decision to award Bose the Bharat Ratna, could not be given to the Commission on grounds that making them public would be a threat to the nation's security!".
Justice Mukherjee also made the surprising observation that "We will take up the issue during the next hearing if the Union Home Ministry can claim privilege on these files. I don't say they are not doing anything, but whatever they are doing is not adequate". When asked if this indicated an uncertain future for the Commission, Justice Mukherjee shot back saying: ''It's not for me to pass comments." Earlier Justice Mukherjee had informed the audience that the Special Branch of the Calcutta Police had sent incorrect information regarding the files it was asked to submit.
A status report circulated among the audience said that the Prime Minister's Office sought 15 more days time to file a consolidated affidavit covering all the points mentioned in the proceedings of the Commission. The status report also noted that no affidavit has been filed on behalf of the Cabinet Secretariat, the National Archives of India, and Research and Analysis Wing. However, among other documents, the National Archives of India informed the Commission in a letter dated 24.10.2000 that they had received 46 xerox pages on Subhash Chandra Bose from the department of Culture, Government of India, though the Embassy of India in Moscow on 15 May1991.
One is forced to ask what is about the Netaji files that is causing the government to cite endangerment of the nation's security as an excuse to stop the documents from becoming public. Could the BJP government be feeling the heat to hide the details of what really happened to Netaj1? There is no doubt plenty of resistance from the Congress which does not want the nation to know Jawaharlal Nehru's actions and role in betraying Netaji.
The previous two Commissions that were supposed to unearth the details about Netaji were both appointed by the Congress government. These were the Shah Nawaz Committee or the Khosla Commission. The Government under Mrs. Gandhi told Khosla Commission that many confidential files of Nehru connected with the reports about Netaji were either missing or destroyed. These files were dealt with by the personal secretary of Pandit Nehru - Mohammad Yunus .
It had also been discovered that the British intelligence team informed their Government that Pandit Nehru had "received a secret communication from Bose". This report was confirmed by a witness, Shri Shyamlal Jain of Meerut, while he deposed before Khosla Commission. In 1945-46, Shri Jain was working as a confidential steno of Asaf Ali who was Secretary to the INA Defense Committee with Bhulabhai Desai as its Chairman and Pandit Nehru as one of its prominent members. This confidential steno of the INA Defense Committee, in the course of his deposition, made a shocking revelation about Nehru's attitude toward Netaji.
Shri Jain had told the Khosla Commission:
"I solemnly affirm and state on oath that one evening (the date may be Dec. 26 or 27, 1945) I was called by Shri Jawaharlal Nehru on telephone to come to the residence of Shri Asaf Ali with a typewriter as he had a lot of work to be typed by me, which I complied. After getting some papers typed by me, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru drew out a paper from the pocket of his achkan and asked me to make four copies of it for him. The said paper was a hand-written matter and was somewhat difficult to read. Now, what was written on that paper, I am trying to reproduce from my memory:"
"Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose proceeding by aeroplane from Saigon arrived today, August 23, 1945 at Dairen (Manchuria) at 1:30 afternoon. The said plane was a Japanese bomber plane. It was full of gold in the shape of bars, ornaments and jewelry. Netaji carried two attache cases, one in each hand. On alighting from the plane, Netaji took tea with bananas. When Netaji finished tea, he along with four others, out of which one was a Japanese named General Shidei (and others have lapsed from memory), took their seats in a jeep standing nearby. The said jeep proceeded toward Russian territory. After about 3 hours the said jeep returned and informed the pilot of the plane who flew back to Tokyo."
"After handing over the said paper to me for typing, Shri Jawaharlal Nehru went to Mr. Asaf Ali and remained busy in conversation with him for 10 or 15 minutes...I could not complete the work, because the name of the writer on that letter was not readable, and I kept waiting for Shri Jawaharlal to come and tell me the name. In the meantime, I went through the letter several times and that is all that I could remember to the present day. Shri Jawaharlal could not discern the name of the writer and asked me to pull out the papers and hand them over as they were."I solemnly affirm and state on oath that thereafter Shri Jawaharlal Nehru gave me four papers from his writing pad to make four copies of a letter, which he would dictate to me on typewriter, which I also complied. The contents of the letter, as far as I could remember, were as follows:
Dear Mr. Attlee:
I understand from a reliable source that Subhas Chandra Bose, 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 Russia has been an ally of the British-Americans, it should not have been done. Please take note of it and do what you consider proper and fit.
When these shocking revelations were revealed by MP Samar Guha, they were met with incredulity and anger and Mr. Guha had been lambasted as a hysterical conspiracy theorist who was on a witch hunt against the Gandhi family. But now we see that subsequent discoveries have buttressed Mr. Guha's accusations and point to the shocking role of Pandit Nehru in this sordid mess. Below are some of the hard-hitting revelations by Mr. Guha which are now clearly augmented by documentary evidence.
1)British Intelligence affirmed that Pandit Nehru received a secret communication from Netaji and Jain confirmed it further without knowing anything about this secret report.
2)Col. Tada, one of the principal architects of Netaji's escape plan confided to S.A. Iyer in 1951 that the Japanese agreed to make necessary arrangements to convey Netaji to Russian territory across the border of Manchuria.
3)Neither the Government Counsel appearing before the Inquiry Commission, nor Mr. Khosla either challenged or refuted the veracity of Jain's testimony.
4)Most of the secret files about Netaji, that were maintained by Pandit Nehru himself as "P.M.'s special" files, one of which included all communications connected with INA Defense Committee, were reported by the Government as "either missing or destroyed". It will not be easy to presume that Netaji's communication to Nehru and a copy of Nehru's letter to Attlee have also been destroyed.
5)Late Amritlal Seth, former editor of the Gujarati Daily Janmabhumi, who accompanied Nehru during his visit to Singapore told late Sarat Chandra Bose immediately after his return from Singapore that Panditji was warned by the British Admiral that, according to his report, 'Bose' did not die in the alleged air crash and if Nehru played up too high with the legends of Bose and demands for re-absorption of the INA in the Indian Army, he would be taking the risk of presenting India on a platter to Bose when he reappeared.
The report by Amritlal Seth is corroborated by two facts. On arrival at Singapore Pandit Nehru was given a rousing reception by the INA there, when Panditji agreed to their request to place a wreath on the INA Martyr Monument, which was demolished under orders from Mountbatten immediately after British re-occupation of Singapore.
Strangely, next day, Nehru refused to attend the INA Martyr Memorial ceremony organized at Singapore. About three decades later, Mountbatten boastfully stated in the 'Nehru Oration' speech that Nehru acted very compliantly on his advice regarding the treatment about the INA. After his return from Singapore, Nehru never uttered a word about Netaji for over a decade even after he became the Prime Minister of India.
6)Till the 1950's, AIR was instructed not to cover any special talk on Netaji or broadcast any news about Netaji's birthday, exceeding a few minutes. All army barracks were prohibited from displaying any portrait of Netaji and this ban-order continued for years even after withdrawal of the British Power.
7)After coming to power, Pandit Nehru had received all the secret British reports which informed the Wavell Government that Bose reached Russia, but as Prime Minister of India he never inquired publicly about these reports from the Russian Government. Even more suspicious is the fact that Pandit Nehru consistently opposed any demands for full-fledged judicial inquiry about the Netaji mystery and appointed the Shah Nawaz Committee primarily as a smokescreen to scuttle the move for a non-official inquiry about Netaji under the chairmanship of Dr. Radha Benode Pal.
This incredible and shocking conspiracy to hide the circumstances and conditions surrounding Netaji's disappearance and the subsequent falsified rumour of his death are of significant importance to the Indian people. The annals of Indian history and the conscience of the nation demands that the facts concerning this mystery be revealed to the public. The BJP government must show the courage and fortitude to overcome political compulsions and point the finger at the real culprits. Only then can the ghost of lost opportunities and the regret of having lost their most beloved leader too soon, be put to rest in the minds of the Indian people.