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Author: Kingshuk Nag
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9789384439620
Did Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose die in an air crash in Taihoku (Taipei, Taiwan) on 18 August 1945? Was he sent off to Siberia by Joseph Stalin? Did he die there? Or did he escape? Or was he let off, eventually to make his way back to India? Was he the mysterious Gumnami Baba of Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh? If so, how did he find his way back?
Why did Bose leave India when he did? Was it on account of his political approach, which was opposed by the then high command of the Congress party that wanted a quick transfer of power from the British?
FROM THE BOOK PREFACE:
Satyameva Jayate, truth alone triumphs, is the national motto of India. But sadly this motto—drawn from the Mundaka Upanishad—is often not acted upon. The mystery behind the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the diminution of the exceptional role he played in India's independence movement is a striking example of how truth has deliberately been prevented from triumphing.
But every night has a dawn and this long dark night where Netaji was relegated to the ash heap of history, with the truth of his disappearance perhaps hidden in secret government records, is about to end.
The first salvo has been fired by the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, who bit the bullet and ordered declassification of sixty-four files relating to Netaji that were in the custody of the West Bengal state intelligence department. Releasing the files in the middle of September 2015, she said that from a reading of the documents it was clear that Netaji had lived beyond 1945. By doing this she created history because this is the first official statement confirming the survival of Netaji beyond 18 August 1945. Of course, the Justice Manoj Kumar Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry into Netaji's disappearance had also said in its report submitted in 2005 that he could not have died in the air crash on that fateful day because there was no evidence of such a crash.
But the report was rejected by the Union government in New Delhi. The files opened by Mamata add up to a staggering 12,744 pages and they have now been kept for public viewing at the Police Museum in Kolkata.
The declassification of the files has had a salutary effect: pressure has mounted on the Union government to open up the files in its custody—including those in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). Not only have relatives of Netaji stepped up their campaign but so have other private groups like the Rashtriya Sainik Sanstha (an organization comprising civilian patriots and more than one lakh ex-servicemen). Retired intelligence officials, their lips sealed even after superannuation, have started speaking out even if in off-the-record conversations.
All of which is throwing more light on the Netaji mystery. On 14 October 2015 talking to thirty-five family members of Netaji who had called on him in a much publicized meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he found no reason for the Netaji files to remain secret and announced that paying heed to requests made by Netaji's relatives, the Government of India would start declassifying them beginning 23 January 2016. This will be the 120th birthday of the patriot. Modi also said that he would write to foreign governments—beginning with Russia in December—to declassify any Netaji-related files that they might have in their archives. He said that the other countries to be approached would include the United Kingdom, USA, Japan, China, Singapore and Malaysia.
Later Modi tweeted that 'there is no need to strangle history. Nations that forget their history lack the power to create it Independent researchers till date have faced huge barriers while dealing with foreign governments. They have repeatedly been told that a government-to-government request might yield better results. But all previous Indian governments have preferred to remain silent.
If the current Indian government acts on the prime minister's statement and puts in a request to foreign governments it might well induce the latter to part with information. Thirteen of the declassified files reveal the shocking fact that Netaji's close relatives were subjected to round-the-clock surveillance by intelligence sleuths with their mail being intercepted on a regular basis. This included correspondence received as well as sent out by members of the Bose family. A team of fourteen sleuths were deployed for this purpose. This was an incredibly large and complex operation and had obviously been mounted because the intelligence department was keen to trace Netaji's whereabouts. The operation was carried on till the late 1960s, confirming that they believed that he had not died till then. While the government deployed this massive intelligence operation, the official committees set up to investigate the disappearance of Netaji were being encouraged to report that he had died in the air crash, which now seems to not have happened at all.
These declassified intelligence files reveal that the sleuths were searching far and wide for Netaji and had even been examining a lead that he had escaped from Singapore at the end of World War II in a submarine. They were also trying to figure out whether he had escaped to China and mingled with Mao Zedong's forces. The Chinese angle may have caught the fancy of the intelligence community because close relatives of Netaji were themselves trying to investigate whether he had made it to China. On 5 March 1948, Chow Hsiang Kungg, apparently an Indian official, or perhaps an interpreter who worked out of the Old Secretariat in Delhi wrote to Amiya Nath Bose, son of Netaji's elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose informing him that a quick search of Chinese newspapers had not thrown up any leads that the leader was in Nanking (Nanjing).
The letter was written in response to a specific query from Amiya. Addressed to his Calcutta (Kolkata) address, it never reached him since it was confiscated by intelligence at the post-office. Adding to the mystery was a report published in the tabloid Blitz on 26 March 1949 that Bose was alive in Red China. A few years later in 1956, Suresh Chandra Bose, another elder sibling of Netaji, wrote about the possibility of his brother's presence in China.
Introduction: The Pilgrim's Progress
1. The Air Crash Story
2. Surrendering to the Russians
3. Stalin, Nehru and Netaji
4. Why Nobody Lobbied for Netaji's Freedom
5. The Rise of Subhas
6. Gandhi Coterie and Subhas Bose
7. Escape from Calcutta
8. In Hitler's Germany
9. INA and Azad Hind Government
10. Nehru, Mountbatten and Freedom
11. Divided Bengal
12. The Mystery of Gumnami Baba
13. The Transformation
14. Was Netaji Forsaken by His Own Government?
About the Author