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  Mukherjee Commission and the Mystery of Netaji’s Disappearence  
 

 

By: Dr.Dipak Basu
June 03, 2006
V
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.

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(The author is a Professor in International Economics in Nagasaki University, Japan)

Mukherjee Commission did its job perfectly within the limits of the legal formalities and as a result the main question was not answered: what has happened to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose when he had embarked upon his journey from Bangkok on 14th or 15th August 1945.

The whole nation should be grateful to Anuj Dhar of Hindustan Times and Prof.Purabi Roy of Jadavpur University for compiling and discovering some information that may help us to imagine that fateful journey of Netaji. Dr.Hirendra Narayan Sarkar’s book , ’A Homage to Netaji: a Commentary on his life & Activities’ is also a helpful addition.  The affidavit of Prof.Purabi Roy to the Mukherkjee Commission is in the website created by Anuj Dhar: www.hindustantime.com/news/specials/Netaji/purabi.htm.

Nehru and Netaji: 

Although some politicians are trying to put the blame on Jawaharlal Nehru for not trying to uncover the mystery, Nehru was at best a helpless spectator not an actor in this matter.

When the Khosla commission was appointed in 1970, Shyamlal Jain from Meerut gave his statements to the commission. He was asked by Nehru to come to Asif Ali’s residence with the typewriter on 26/ 27 December 1945. He was given a letter to type; with a vague signature at its bottom. It had the following content:

“Netaji reached Dairen in Manjuria at 1:30 pm on 23rd August 1945, from Saigon by plane. The plane was a Japanese bomber. He had plenty of gold with him in bars and ornaments. After disembarking, he ate banana and drank tea. He and 4 others, one of them a Japanese officer Shidei; got into a jeep and went towards the Russian border. After about 3 hours, the jeep came back and gave the pilot instruction to fly back to Tokyo.”

Nehru asked Jain to type a letter to the then British prime minister Clements Attlee. The letter had the following   content

Mr Clements Attlee

British Prime Minister

10 Downing Street, London

Dear Mr Attlee,

I understand from most reliable source that Subhash 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, which she should not have done.

Please take care of it and do what you consider proper and fit.

Yours sincerely,

Jawaharlal Nehru

On August 23, 1945, the home member of the Indian government, Sir R.F.Mudie prepared a report (Ref: Top Secret Letter no. 57 dated 23 August 1945) as to how to handle Netaji. It was addressed to Sir E.Jenkins. The viceroy submitted this report to the English cabinet. ‘Russia may accept Bose under special circumstances. If that is the case, we shouldn’t demand him back’ was the cabinet’s decision on this. After considering this, the British prime minister Clements Attlee decided ‘Let him remain where he is now’. This decision was taken in October 1945. It clearly indicates that he was alive even in Oct 1945.

In 1946, Nehru met Mountbatten in Singapore. On no occasion after this meeting, Nehru has been reported of praising the INA. He had agreed to the demand from the Indians in Singapore to place wreath and flowers at Netaji’s martyr dome there, but withdrew quite dramatically on the 11th hour.  

Hari Vishnu Kamath M.P. demanded a probe into Netaji's absconding in the parliament in 1952. Nehru didn’t agree to this at first! (Ref: Page 103, Annexure 21, Appendix I to Parliamentary Debates, Fifth Session 1952). When those who demanded the probe made amendments for a non-official commission under the great Dr Radhavinod Pal, who was one of the 11 Judges in the Tokyo trial of the Japanese War-time prime minister Tojo and his associates in 1948; all of a sudden, Nehru incepted the Shah Nawaz commission on 5th April 1956! What is most interesting was the commission was neither allowed to visit the place of accident nor did the government seek the permission of the Formosa government.  

It is important to know that Shah Nawaz  Khan, the commanding officer in the Kohima front  had close contact with his brother, an officer in the British-Indian army in Kohima  and has revealed the codes and the military plans of the Japanese and the Azad Hind Army. As a result Netaji removed him from that position and sent him to Burma. Shah Nawaz Khan became a Pakistani citizen but was invited by Nehru to be a minister in India and to investigate about Netaji, whom he betrayed during the Azad Hind Army’s campaign in Kohima.   

Netaji’s journey from Bangkok to Manchuria:

In 1952, S.A.Aiyer, a senior government official and Nehru's friend, visited Tokyo, after which he handed over a personal note to Nehru. The letter as it is, is given below:
“This time I could gather a very important information. Col.Tada told me that after the end of the war when Japan surrendered, Terauchi took all responsibility to help Netaji and asked him (Tada) to go to Kaka Bose (His Excellency Bose) and tell him to reach Russian territory - all help will be given to him. It was arranged that Chandra Bose will fly in the plane in which Shidei was going. General Shidei will look after Chandra Bose upto Dairen, and thereafter, he could fall back on his own resources to contact Russians. Japanese would announce to the world that Bose had disappeared from Dairen. That would absolve them of all responsibility in the eyes of the Allies.”

Nehru didn’t inform this to the parliament despite controversies for a long time. He even didn’t hand over his own files on Netaji to the commission. (Ref: Prime Minister’s Special File)

This is the official death certificate of ‘Netaji’ issued by the Health and Hygiene Bureau in Formosa, where it was necessary to produce the death certificate for cremation.
Person died - Ichiro Okura

Date of birth - 1900 April 9

Cause of death - Cardiac arrest

Job - Soldier, temporary

Date of death - 19 August 4:00 pm

Date of permission for cremation - 21 August 1945

Date of cremation - 22 August 1945

Person requesting for the cremation - Dr Thaneoshi Yoshimi; doctor treated

The time of death in Habibur Rahman’s statements to different commissions vary between 5 PM August 18th to 12 AM August 19th, and 4 PM 19 August.

Netaji was reported to be alive even after 1945 by the British intelligence from Teheran and Kabul quoting the Russian embassy officials. This was even stated in the Shah Nawaz commission report (File No. 10/ Mis/ INA-pp 38, 39). Reports of the officers appointed by Mountbatten and McArthur, and the reports of BACIS (British American Counter Intelligence Service) have all completely discarded any possibility of such a plane crash to have happened. They all provided statements that Habibur Rahman hasn’t told the truth; most possibly he has promised Netaji to hide the facts. 

The statements by the INA officials, Japanese military officials, British intelligence reports, and The Top Secret Files published by the British government in 1976 all say Netaji was alive in Soviet Russia.

The INA meeting in Kanpur from July 15 to 18, 1947 had requested Nehru to take the INA soldiers in the Indian army. Even Mohammad Ali Jennah kept his word by posting the INA members in his army; but Nehru didn’t.  

One of the three members in the Shah Nawaz commission was Netaji's brother Suresh Chandra Bose. He didn’t agree to the report of the commission. He even wrote to Nehru that his brother didn’t reach Taihoku; so he didn’t die there! Nehru wrote back to him; "There is no precise or direct proof of Netaji's death".

Netaji's Confidential Personal Assistant, E.Bhaskaran gave this statement before the Shah Nawaz commission about a letter by Netaji, addressed to John Thivi, a minister in the Azad Hind government, written on 1945 August 17 at 3 am. The letter contains these words:

‘I am writing this letter, because I am going for a long journey. Who knows I won't get into a plane accident.’

The British intelligence has reported that Nehru knew where Netaji was. Nehru took the Foreign Affairs portfolio himself and appointed none other than Vijayalekshmi Pandit as the ambassador to Russia.  After her term was over, Dr S.Radhakrishnan became the representative to Russia. Dr Saroj Das of Calcutta University told his friend Dr R.C.Muzumdar that Radhakrishnan had told him that Netaji was in Russia. Radhakrishnan couldn’t come before the Khosla commission due to ill health and treatment in Madras.

Former Indian ambassador Dr Satyanarayana Sinha once met Georgy Mukherjee, son of Abani Mukherjee, one of the founder of the Communist party of India. Georgey Mukherjee told him that his father and Netaji were prisoners in adjacent cells in Siberia. He also told Sinha that Netaji had assumed the name ‘Khilsai Malang’ there.

Abani Mukherjee was the companion of Virendranath Chattopadhyay, brother of Sarojini Naidu, imprisoned in 1937 by Stalin. Both Abanu Mukherjee and Varindranath Chattopadya were killed by Stalin later. Dr Sinha came back to India and reported this fresh news to Nehru. But to his great surprise and frustration, Sinha was unexpectedly scolded by Nehru, and ever since, the relationship between the two deteriorated. Sinha has written this down in his book. He has even described this incident before the Khosla commission.

There are more details in Page 318 of ‘Netaji Dead or Alive?’ by Samar Guha. The Hindu, 25.07.1995 wrote, : ”Prof. (Samar) Guha also wanted the centre to seek documents from Russia, Britain, Japan, and Taiwan. A fresh and thorough investigation is necessary. The Gorbechev regime has allowed access to secret documents under Glasnost. He claimed that Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and others were aware of Netaji's imprisonment in the erstwhile Soviet Union after World War II. But they did not want him to return to India as it would wreck the Govt. and the Congress party. He claimed that Jawaharlal Nehru, who had defended the INA leader, became a changed person and never spoke of that Army and Netaji after visiting Singapore in 1946 at the invitation of Lord Louis Mountbatten. The British authorities too had passed on vital information to the Govt. of Clements Attlee about Netaji's disappearance. But the Govt. of India never took up the matter with the British Govt.”

Russian Connection:

It is not known in India that the Soviet Union, along with Japan, Germany, Italy, Imperial China, Hungary, and Romania, has recognized the Azad Hind Government of Netaji and allowed Netaji to open a consulate in Siberian city of Omsk, as the most of the Soviet administrtation was moved to Siberia during the Second World War.

According to Prof.Purabi Roy of Jadavpur University, Netaji went to Manchuria from Singapore and was received in Manchuria by the Consul General of the Azad Hind Government's consulate at Omsk city, Kato Kachu, on August 22-23, 1945.  "Kato Kachu was, according to Japanese researchers, actually an Indian.  That name was an alias."

Alexander Kolesnikov, a former major-general of the Warsaw Pact, who has accessed the files in Paddolsk Military Archive, situated 40 km from Moscow in October 1996, said that  Josef Stalin, the general-secretary of the CPSU, and his cabinet were considering various options to deal with Bose in 1946.  During a meeting with an Indian Parliamentary Delegation to the Russian Federation in 1996, he gave a written account of all his findings.  The delegation, which included the late Chitta Basu and Sri Jayanta Roy of the Forward Bloc, brought the writing back to India.  This account is the basis of the affidavit before the Mukherjee Commission submitted by Prof. Purabi Roy of Jadavpur University who was sent as part of Asiatic Society's three-member team to the Oriental Institute, Moscow to study Indian documents from 1917-1947.  Since Paddolsk was out of bounds for her being a foreigner, Kolesnikov was assigned the job.  Her findings are:

There are a lot of materials on Subhas bose in the Military Archive in Omsk, where the Free Government of India in Exile (or Azad Hind Government) had a consulate during the Second world War. Just a request from the Government of India would be sufficient for the Russian authority to open that archive. Prof.Purabi Roy wrote to the Government of India about it and as a result her research was terminated by the Indian government and she could not go back to Russia again. 

Prof.Purabi Roy found out a report of a KGB agent in Bombay written in 1946 about the political situation in India.  The report is saying, "…. it is not possible to work with Nehru or Gandhi, we have to use Subhas Bose”. That implies in 1946 Subhas Bose was still alive.  

The Investigation Commission of Justice Mukherjee, initiated at the time of the Prime Minister Vajpayee, was cut short and the Justice Mukherjee was not allowed to go to archives in Russia as the Government of India refused to request the Russian government to allow Mukherjee Commission to do so.  Kamal Pandey, the then Home Secretary has refused to give any access to Justice Mukherjee of the documents still in the hands of the Government of India. Shah Nawaz Khan Commission and the Khosla Commission have never visited Russia or Taiwan to investigate, they never sought any help from the Soviet authority either.  

BBC World Service has reported on 4th February 2005 that according to the Taiwan Government there were no plane crashes at Taipei between 14 August and 20 September 1945; thus Netaji could not have died on 18th August 1945.  

On 14th August 1945, Japan has surrendered. There were literary hundreds of Allied battleship and aircraft carriers all around Japan and USA had complete control over the airspace of Japan.  It was impossible for any Japanese military aircraft to go from Taipei to Tokyo without being attacked by the US.  Why on earth Netaji would like to go back to Tokyo to surrender himself to the U.S army who would definitely hand him over to the British to be killed “ on the spot” as demanded by Lord. Mountbatten!  Given the fact that Japan had no hostility with the USSR during the whole of the Second World War, it was only natural for Netaji to go back to the Soviet Union, where he went first in 1941 to seek the help of Stalin to liberate India.  

Two Alternative Possibilities: 

From the Russian archives it is possible to trace Netaji up to 1948; thereafter his whereabouts are unknown.  After 1955, when Stalin was denounced in the Soviet Union, and the victims of Stalin were rehabilitated, there was no reason for the Soviet authority to hide the facts on Subhas Bose.  Indian government has never asked the Soviet Union or Russia in this matter.  Mukherjee Commission was not allowed to touch this matter either.  As a result, we still do not know the whether Netaji was directly killed by Stalin in the Soviet Union sometime after 1948.  

However, from Anuj Dhar’s website another possibility has emerged. There are reports that people have seen Netaji as a prisoner of British military officers in Quetta in 1948, who took him away to the ‘no-mans land’ in the border between Baluchistan and Iran, most possibly for execution.  Both General Wavell and Lord. Mountbatten wanted to kill Netaji on the spot without giving him any chance of huge publicity through any legal trial.  The question is whether Stalin has exchanged Netaji for some very important Russian prisoner in the hands of the British.  One such prisoner was General Vlasov of the Soviet Army who in 1942 became a prisoner of war in the hand of the German army. General Vlasov later while being a prisoner wrote a leaflet calling on the officers of the Red Army and the Russian intelligentsia to overthrow the Soviet regime of Stalin whom he accused of being guilty of all the disasters, which had befallen Russia. General Vlasov had formed an army of more than 200,000 men to liberate Russia from Stalin but was forced to surrender to the British in 1945 after the defeat of Germany.  In 1948, General Vlasov and his men were sent back by the British to Stalin. General Vlasov and most of his men were executed. It is not improbable that Stalin gave Netaji to the British in exchange for General Vlasov, and British have executed Netaji in the Baluchistan-Iran border.  This question was not examined by the Mukherjee Commission, as it had no access to the Russian archive. 

Conclusion: 

The Mukherjee Commission has raised a lot of questions but no solid answer except for the one, which is well known.  Netaji could not have died in August 18 in Taipei.  Japanese authority had propagated the story to safeguard the life of Netaji from the British and American intelligence services.  Habibur Rahman, as loyal companion of Netaji, kept his promise not to reveal the truth.  As a result, the story of the aircraft accident became the “established truth” and the facts remain buried. However, the behaviour of the India government is still a mystery.  There is no particular reason why the government is so shy to ask the Russian authority to unearth the facts.

Dr.Dipak Basu

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