press club of india, Indian Tehalka News
Declassified by the West Bengal government on Friday, 64 files relating to Subhas Chandra Bose raise questions about whether he had indeed died in an air crash at Taihoku, now in Taiwan, on August 18, 1945.
However, the files produce little in terms of solid evidence but only dig out speculation of Bose having lived in places spanning from Russia to China after 1945. This could, however, lead to a more vocal clamour for the Centre to declassify the files in its custody, at least before West Bengal goes to the polls.
What the files do point to with certainty is that the Bose family was snooped upon post-Independence, something which may politically embarrass the Congress.
On his return from Europe sometime after Independence, Sarat Chandra Bose had said he was inclined to believe from information gathered on the continent that his younger brother had not died in a 1945 plane crash and was somewhere in China, says one of the files dated January 1949. The document is from the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Branch, of the then Calcutta.
A report in Blitz, Bombay, on March 26, 1949, doubted that a plane crash of this kind took place at all. “Plane Crash Theory Unconfirmed,” it said as the declassified reports reveal. However, the report reached no definitive conclusion on Bose’s death.
“It is not known whether the news of a 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 slightest evidence in confirmation of the story of Bose’s death in a plane crash and subsequent cremation with full military honours in Tokyo,” it says.
The declassified files indicate that in 1942, three years before the purported plane crash, similar reports of Bose’s death had done the rounds. These were promptly denied by one Bengal newspaper, the Hindustan Standard.
On March 30, 1942, there appeared in the newspaper in heavy print the following notice regarding the rumour of Bose’s death: “‘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.”
This is found in a document of July 17, 1942, addressed to the Home Department, Government of India.
Files reveal snooping on Bose family
If there is one thing that the declassified Netaji files do point to, it is the surveillance that the Bose family, including his nephews Sisir Kumar Bose and Amiya Nath Bose, was subjected to after Independence, as was reported months back amid uproar.
There are a number of documents in the files referring to letters to Bose’s residence in Kolkata being intercepted and delivered only after being copied.
The declassified files also have a letter by the Deputy Commissioner of CID in 1949 seeking extension for interception of letters by another year.
While Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the snooping as “unfortunate,” Bose’s family members have demanded an investigation.
Doubts over whether Bose had indeed died lingered on for decades, the files show.
Samar Guha, MP, wrote to West Bengal Chief Secretary M.M. Basu in March 1969 that according to a police officer of West Bengal who served in the armed forces of India, Bose had boarded a Japanese submarine with two Japanese officers in Singapore and not a plane to Taihoku at the time of Japan’s surrender.
Speech on radio
The documents show that some members of his family, who the government snooped on, believed that he was alive after 1945.
A declassified file contained a letter written by Netaji’s nephew S.K. Bose to his father and Netaji’s elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose in 1949 stating he had information about Netaji speaking on a radio channel.
“Peking Radio announced that Subhas Chandra Bose would broadcast. The radio also gave details regarding the time and wavelength …. The Hong Kong office tried to listen in according to the details, but nothing could be heard. I have asked the guard to let me have further details if possible,” he had written from London on December 12, 1949.
The letter was intercepted by the Kolkata Police’s intelligence bureau following a government order, according to the declassified files.
Krishna Bose, another family member, however, said that as a researcher she believed the leader died in the plane crash.
“If it is proved by evidence that Netaji had not died in the plane crash, I will accept it,” she said.
Netaji’s grand nephew Chandra Bose said family members who were alive at the time believed that the freedom fighter was alive.
“But why did the Indian government keep our family members, who were reputable citizens and well-known personalities, under surveillance? We demand an inquiry into this from the Central government,” he said.
From: The Hindu