Netaji Subash Chandra Bose- one of the most remarkable names in the history of Indian freedom struggle. He was a prominent leader of the freedom movement, organized his own army, the Azad Hind Fauj to fight against the British by radical means, and was even put under house arrest by the British.
But the most spoken stories about Bose were those surrounding his death. Many conspiracies surround his death and many questions still remain unanswered.
The official story
It was the time when World war II was meeting the end. Bose, on knowing that Japan is going to surrender to the British in, wanted to make an association with the Soviet Union. The historic narratives are all the same till this point, but what happened from 16th of August when he came to know of Japan’s surrender to the noon of 17th August, has 3 different narratives. However, in all these, he boarded the flight on 17th August. The flight had room for only one passenger. When Bose complained of that, a second seat was arranged. Actually, it was planned that 4 of the INA army were travelling. But since only 2 seats were available, Bose chose Colonel Habib ur Rahman to accompany him. It is said that two heavy strong boxes consisting of gifts from local Indians, was also taken with them. All these have added weight to the plane. The flight, which was actually a bomber, would carry a crew of five normally, and in this case it was overloaded. The flight’s destination wasn’t revealed by Bose or the Japanese. By the time the plane reached the northern coast of French Indo-China it was getting dark and hence the pilot had to make a stop at Tourane (presently in Vietnam), which wasn’t scheduled.
The next morning, they flew to Taihoku (presently in japan), this time, leaving some 500 pounds of equipment and luggage. After a two hour stop at Taihoku, the plane again took off around 2 to 2.30 pm.
Just sometime after the take-off, one of the three wings of the propeller fell off and the flight crashed and exploded into flames. The pilot, co-pilot and a general died instantly. Bose was soaked in gasoline leaking from the plane. Since the rear door was blocked by the luggage, they tried to exit through the front door. By this time, the gasoline-soaked clothes started igniting and Bose came out, like a human torch.
He had third-degree burns on many parts of the body, especially the chest, which limited chances of his survival, and was hardly recognisable. He was conscious when he reached the hospital but soon, he went into a coma. He died a few hours later around 9 to 10 pm.
The body was cremated 2 days later, on August 20,1945 and the ashes were carried to Tokyo and remains in Renkonji Temple in Tokyo ever since.
The myths around
There are a lot of myths surrounding the death of Subash Chandra Bose. The other 2 members of the INA, left behind by Bose on 17th, never saw his body. Also, there are no photographs of Bose injured or deceased. A death certificate was also not issued. All these facts pave way for conspiracies that surround. There are theories about the Bose who didn’t die.
- Bose reached Soviet Union and was there:
It is said that Bose was held in a gulag, which is a system of forced labour camps in Siberia, during the time of Stalin. The reason is that, the Soviet can use him to develop its interests in India in any case if required. Another claim is that Bose was in Russia, but not as a captive.
- Bose was captured by the British and was killed by them in prison:
Japan surrendered to the British on august 15th,1945. Bose had his flight on 18th August. The British, new mentors of Japan, wanted them to hand over Bose. Japan agreed and thus, they handed over him to the British, who eventually killed him.
Why should Japan do this to the British? It is because they were in close association with the British already. In world war I, the British and Japan were on the same side. Due to America’s stand against Japan, and America and Britain were allies at the time, they happened to be opposing nations.
- Bose came back to India and lived the rest of his life as a sage:
This is the most astonishing theory. Gumnami Baba, a sage who lived in UP during the 1960s and died in 1985, is believed to be Bose incognito. Wherever he went, he used to cover his face with a blanket or a piece of cloth and he always sat behind a curtain when visitors met him. The rumour of him looking like Netaji spread a lot, and he had to change his residence often. When he died in 1985, his belongings were seen be the media, it was observed that the handwritings of the baba were same as that of Bose. This was also verified by top forensic expert B. Lal Kapoor and a legendary American expert Curt Baggett. These were denied by the government forensic experts, who were actually juniors to Lal Kapoor and were less experienced. There were also many books related to politics, communism and there were about 3000 articles related to Netaji. He used cigar and round-rimmed glasses, just like Netaji. The languages he spoke, his voice and even some physical features are similar. Still not convinced? His belongings included a picture of Netaji’s parents!
During his life, Gumnami Baba met only a few people, who were related to the INA and the Indian government. One of his ardent followers was Pabitra Mohan Roy, who was a spy in Netaji’s Azad Hind government. He used to refer himself as “your dead man” while he spoke to Roy. His utterances were compiled into a book, which shows that he was not just a sage in a remote corner of UP. He had spoken about politics, communism, science, warfare and the strategies of India and other countries. He has even foretold many things! He had spoken about the US soldiers using drugs like heroin in 1966, and Richard Nixon, president of US had become aware of it only in 1971. These evidences are quite mind-blowing and conclusive that both are the same. But the government has denied these claims, stating that the DNA comparison of both doesn’t show any similarity. There is a claim that the DNA report is fudged.
If he was actually Bose, why should he live a life in disguise?
There are a few answers to this.
If Gumnami Baba was Bose, he was a war criminal to the US and Britain. They could have forced India to hand him over to them. Bose had spied over Britain and had also joined hands with Hitler for India’s freedom. All these have made the allies (mainly the US and Britain) develop enmity towards Bose and if he was not handed over, who knows US and Britain could have waged war on India for this. It is even said that followers of Gumnami Baba knew that he was Bose, but he himself asked them to keep it hidden for the nation’s good.
So, these are the theories of netaji’s ‘life after death’.
Committees and their reports
- The supreme allied command, South east Asia under Mountbatten commission Col. John Figgess to investigate upon the death of Bose in 1946. The work was done confidential and the report was submitted on July 25th, 1946, which confirmed four facts- the plane crash, Bose’s death on the same day, his cremation and transfer of ashes.
- The Shahnawaz committee was 1956, was appointed to stop the rumours made on Bose’s death. It consisted of 3 members, one of which was Suresh Chandra Bose, Netaji’s brother. Having signed all the initial conclusions he refused to sign the final report stating that some crucial evidence was withheld from him by the committee and that the other members of the committee had pressured him to sign the report.
- A third, one-man committee by Justice Khosla was appointed by Indian government in 1970 and it also confirmed the facts stated by the other two commissions and had also investigated the truth behind the other claims. He suggests that most of the other claims had some political goals ad attention seeking ones, and hardly had truth in them.
- The Mukherjee commission was appointed in 1999 following a court order. It concluded that oral accounts of witnesses cannot be relied and that there was a secret plan for Bose escaping to soviet Russia. Also, it stated that the ashes kept in the Renkoji Temple were not of Bose but of Ichiro Okura. All these conclusions lacked proper evidence and the basis of these conclusions were also inaccurate. Stating these, the Indian government rejected its findings.
For a detailed read on all reports of the commissions, click here.
Till date, there are a lot of questions relating to Bose’s death that remain unanswered. Many truths are unexposed and buried in the sands of time. Whatever had happened to Bose, he is always and ever will be, the hero of our nation.
Thus, we come to the conclusion of the article. And here, I’d like to introduce to you, the Tashkent Man.
This picture was taken on January 10, 1966 in Tashkent, Russia at the Indo-Pakistan peace treaty, which ended the India-Pakistan war of 1965. A few hours later after signing this treaty Lal Bahadur Shastri died, in a mysterious way.
This particular man in the picture resembles Bose. In all the photographs and videos, this man seemed to keep away from the camera and hid his face as much as possible. Neil Miller, has presented the expert opinion on this at the UK high courts and according to him “lends support leaning on strong support to the contention that the person seen in the picture and Subash Chandra Bose are one and the same person.” There are also striking similarities in facial features like eyes, ears, forehead, nose, lips and chin. Click here for details.
These evidences firmly conclude that the Tashkent man may and most probably be Subash Chandra Bose.
Now to the death of Shastri. Why is it considered mysterious?
It is said that he died of heart attack. But he was healthy with no signs or earlier history of a heart attack. His body turned blue after his death and was not permitted a post-mortem. The doctor who examined him and his personal servant met with accidents just before they were going to the enquiry committee. There were cut marks on his body.
Hours before his death, he called his family members and said that on returning to India, he would disclose something really big that would move the Opposition and the whole country. Sashtri’s son mentioned in an interview that he was going to meet ‘a special person’ very soon.
By this time, you would have guessed who ‘the special person’ could have been.