A country is known by its superheroes and the honour that is being given to them posthumously by their fellow countrymen. Bose is a name, a mystery that is still shrouded in cloud and ashes and for which “the future generation will not forgive us…” Strings of enquiries, foreign investigation, be it government sponsored or independent ones have failed to emancipate thousands of Indian souls of doubt and suspicion.

Even after 73 years of Bose’s alleged “death” at Taipei’s Plane crash, number of commissions and panel’s recommendations and reports, one fails to rule out hundreds of conspiracy theories that have come up. Instead, the more the Congress and the subsequent UPA government have tried to establish the death sequence, the more has it muddled the Col. Rehman’s storyline and has given out more and more chinks to admit air of mistrust and skepticism.

Players (read: stake holders) involved in this game of political (mis)adventure ranges from Pandit Nehru, the head of state machinery to  Mahatma, who loved and hated his estranged son Bose evenly, from all weather friends of Bose like Habib Ur Rahman to Japanese military unit liaising with Bose’s government like Lt. Gen SaburoIsoda, colonel Kagwa of HikariKikan to Netaji’s confederate turned Congress MP like SA Ayer, Shahnawaz Khan who later embarked upon a career of illustrious political future, from His family to Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the then foreign minister. If anyone who could bust the mystery of Bose’s disappearance, is I believe, are the names taken above. But it wasn’t that simple. Every discreet player had a preset role in this part of “mahabharat” influenced by nationalism or moved by emotion, coached by politician or taught by circumstances. None of the above names played fair and unbiased.

Mr. Morarji Desai, the then PM in the year 1978, who was never on the side of Bose , who considered “any fresh investigation would be a sheer waste of time” had to admit on the floor of the Parliament that the death claims were inconclusive based on “contemporary official documentary records” and findings from the first commission ‘s report. But when Mukherjee Commission began its investigation after 1999 Calcutta High Court’s order, the PMO could not find and deliver the records based on which Mr. Desai said so. Such absurdity ruled the roost in this entire Bose obscurity.

The first of its kind, well known Judge GD Khosla and INA Veteran Shahnawaz Panel on the death mystery of Bose stood firmly for the air crash theory that Bose met his death at Nanmon Military Hospital south of Taihokudue to severe burn and cardiac failure. Pandit Nehru backed this claim all his life. He maintained his standard briefing every time he was pressurized for launching fresh probes that Shahnawaz and Khosla probe into the matter is sufficient and no further investigation was needed.

On the other hand, 12 years ago the Supreme Court Judge Mukherjee “rapped the government for not being sincere and evidenced that the story of Bose’s death in Taiwan was actually a Japanese smokescreen to obfuscate the trail of his (Bose’s) escape towards Soviet Russia.” Home Minister ShivrajPatil discredited the MK Mukherjee Commission report with all the clout and oratory at his disposal. The government tried its best to laugh it off, shrug it off but failed once more to cool down the simmering hearts of Indians and many Japanese. Alive or Dead? Escaped or murdered? The treasure that Netaji was supposedly carrying with him on the plane was never found. A wishful story or a crafted theft? India still doesn’t really know. Right to information Act has failed time and again to provide the seekers with full set of appendix or documents attached to Shahnawaz Report citing secrets that might affect External ties.

Gandhi never believed the death story of Bose and during the troubled time of Partition after independence and migration, he yearned for his “other son” who, he said, could have handled the situation better than Nehru and Patel. When someone reminded him of Bose’s accidental demise Gandhi rebuked him saying, “He is in Russia”. Gandhi never flinched from this stand during his lifetime.

The family of Bose, understandably, never acknowledged the ashes kept at Renkoji temple to be the mortal remains of Bose. And when the game of ashes began, Pranab Mukherjee pestered Anita Bose Pfaff and her husband to deal with her mother Emilie Schenkl. Grand Nephew of Bose, Surya Kumar Bose, testified the episode where Mr. Mukherjee, the then foreign minister, offered a blank cheque to Emilie, old wife of Bose, to obtain her precious signature on the paper that would enable Indian Govt. to bring the ashes from Japan to Indiato which Emilie said “No” in Augsburg. Later Anita was approached by Mr. Mukherjee but to no avail. The incident is well narrated in detail in AnujDhar’s book.  Game of ashes dragged on and DNA tests were suggested as early as 1995 and more specifically by the Mukherjee commission  till 2005 when at last the Commission gave in to the lackadaisical approach of the MHA and MEA. Deliberate or not is a matter of debate. But the last thing that the Commission wanted was to send a specialist molecular biologist to Renkoji temple to collect sample of the un-charred bones from the ashes as per the advice of the director of CCMB, Ancient DNA study center newly opened at Hyderabad.

Letters and repetitive reminders “evoked no response”. Whether the ashes are to be brought to India or not, if the ashes are hiding any integral mitochondrial DNA that might finally confirm the identity remained unreciprocated. When Madhuri Bose, Subhas Chandra Bose’s grand niece, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 15, 2015, to present him a copy of her book, she had one request of him.’Could a DNA test be conducted on the ashes of her grand uncle which have been lying in the Renkoji temple in Tokyo for the last 70 years?’ she asked (Rediff.Com).

Col HabiburRahman, the trusted solider of Bose and INA, who was in the ill-fated air craft which seated Mr. Bose as well decided to settle in Pakistan but people and Government agencies kept remembering him from time to time and was interrogated every such time. Rehman’s account of the day 18th August 1945 says that the army hospital failed to send the body embalmed to Tokyo and instead Rahman brought back the ash of him. In India newspaper flashed the news of Bose’s demise first on 24th August and Karachi observed Subhas Bose Day on 25th. Sky fell upon the people of India. Grief engulfed Kolkata.

Bengal felt a blow of Supernova when on 29th August an American Journalist interrupted a press conference of Nehru, rose and claimed Bose was “alive and seen in Saigon 4 days ago”.

A supernova indeed, as it gave birth to universe of opportunities, speculation, hope, conspiracy and an endless wait. Wait for the greatest enemy of the British to have ever walked on earth to make his comeback to free India. Everyone believed that Bose is alive and awaiting a propitious time to reappear.

Starting from the admission of the physicians who claimed to have treated Bose in his last breathe, issued certificate of death to the ambiguity regarding exact crash site, discrepancies were everywhere and irregularity found anywhere.  CIA documents whispered about Bose being alive. Glaring of such irregularities are :

  • From Col Rahman’s account plane split in the front portion while captain Nakamura stated that the body was intact and unbroken.
  • Maj Takashashi’s account of Netaji’s clothes catching fire and the way he helped him put out the same was different from that of Rahman’s.
  • Japanese doctors never referred to the operation theater where Bose was taken to and operated as per Rahman’s recounting of the event. Unfortunately there was no way of reconciling the statements.

Netaji Inquiry Committee (NIC) set up in 1956 with Shahnawaz khan and Suresh Bose, the elder brother, was at loggerheads from the moment Suresh Bose hinted to veer in opposite direction to that of Khan’s report. Khan believed Suresh Bose was bent on establishing his pre-conceived notion of Bose being alive. Suresh Bose believed that the lopsided investigation by Shahnawaz, backed by Nehru, was not to unearth the ingenuity of Renkoji Ash but to smother the flickering doubts in the minds of the people once and for all by a fabricated story of crash. However, the unfortunate part was Khan stopped cooperating with Bose, ousted him from committee’s office, did not provide him with relevant documents and photographs to complete his dissent report when Suresh Bose stated to report that no plane crash had occurred! Outlook reported that Suresh Bose was even bribed the position of Governor of Bengal in exchange of his consent.

Investigation carried out by SA Ayer, JK Bhonsle, the INA veterans, Bose associates were enjoying plump government postings and ministries by then and reported “beyond a shadow of doubt” that the report of crash is 100% correct.

Did Bose manage to escape to Russia or died at the crash site or in the hospital?… If the ashes at the temple belong to Ichiro Okura and not Bose? Was the disappearance a gargantuan deception by the master of disguise himself helped by the Japanese or was murdered for the INA treasures that he was carrying by his own confederates are some thoughts that would bother even the future of this country every January. Parliament of Indian republic was asked again and again, Bose issue remained undying among all other issues that came and went. “Dying a natural death” was never the fate of Subhash, nor of his story.

A country that rue over his disappearance more than his death should stop celebrating 23rd January until the fair DNA tests are done, facts are confirmed and official declaration is made, both by the Japanese and Indian Government taking family of Bose into confidence.

“In a first, four INA veterans to join the republic day parade this year (2019)”: would not rightly honour and appraise their fidelity, loyalty to the country and to Subhash more than an unbiased investigation into the whereabouts of their Netaji. This Government should seek this occasion and try to clear itself from the accusation of yearlong “willful misconduct”. Rise from the ashes…my country is what we want.

Note: The views and opinion are of the writer. Thousand Miles INC is not to be blamed or pointed to question for any thing written or raised or discussed in the article above.