Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Death of Subhas Chandra Bose

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Bose's last undisputed picture that was taken on the morning of 17 August 1945 in Saigon
The alleged death of Subhas Chandra Bose, the supreme commander of Azad Hind Fauz and Free India Legion in a plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945, has long been the subject of dispute. The third Indian commission that was appointed for enquiring into this confirmed in its report tabled in parliament in May 2006, that Bose's death was staged to facilitate an escape to the USSR.


Subhas Chandra Bose, a prominent leader of the Indian independence movement against the British Raj in India and a general of the Imperial Japanese army Tsunamasa Shidei were reported to be flying to Tokyo, Japan when the alleged plane crash occurred at Matsuyama aerodrome (now Songshan Airport) in Taipei, northern Formosa (now the Republic of China, or Taiwan). The news was withheld by Japanese government for five days before it was announced by Japanese news agency Domei.[1] The Allied forces took the Japanese news as a ploy. The then Viceroy of India, Field Marshal Archibald Wavell, is reported to have noted in his diary that "I wonder if the Japanese announcement of Subhash Chandra Bose's death in an air-crash is true. I suspect it very much, it is just what should be given out if he meant to go underground."
A newspaper clip reporting the death of Netaji and General Shidei
The matter was looked into by several allied intelligence teams and soon holes in the Japanese version became apparent.
The findings of the intelligence teams seem to have not confirmed the Japanese announcement. For as late as October 1946, the Government of British India refused to confirm the death of Bose.[citation needed]
After India's independence, the matter was looked into by three official panels formed by the government of India following the public demands. These panels were: Shah Nawaz Committee, Justice GD Khosla Commission & Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry. The Shah Nawaz Committee upheld the Taiwan crash version,[citation needed] as did the Justice GD Khosla Commission,[citation needed] whereas the Mukherjee Commission negated it.[citation needed]
However, it has also been alleged at various times that the Indian government and political leadership was aware that Bose may have been alive, and according to one theory, in captivity in Soviet Union,[2][3] but chose to ignore or actively collaborate to suppress this information after Independence.[4][5]

Shah Nawaz Committee

In April 1956, the Jawaharlal Nehru Government formed a committee headed by Shah Nawaz Khan. Khan had earlier risen to the rank of Lt Col in the Second Indian National Army, before he was captured by allied troops after the fall of Azad Hind and was one of the three charged with treason in the Red Fort Trial. He was thus seen as an appropriate person to head the inquiry. Two other members of the inquiry commission were SN Mitra and Suresh Chandra Bose, Bose's elder brother. The committee's report that Bose had indeed died in Taipei became disputed due to several reasons. The most important among them was the dissentient report of Suresh Bose. Suresh Bose refused to agree with the findings of his colleagues and accused them and the Government of India of trying to coerce him into agreeing with their views.
In mid 1990s the released archives of Indian Political Intelligence proved conclusively that Bose was killed in 1945. Since rumours were circulating that he was still alive, Indian Political Intelligence arranged for Military Intelligence in New Delhi to investigate the matter. Captain Turner of the War Crimes Liaison Section in Taiwan(formerly called Formosa) was put on to the case and he managed to locate the last person to have seen Bose alive. This was Captain (Medical) Taneyoshi Yoshimi, who was under arrest in Stanley Gaol. He gave a statement that resolved the matter: ‘I personally cleaned his injuries with oils and dressed them. He was suffering from extensive burns over the whole of his body, though the most serious were those on his head, chest and thighs. During the first four hours he was semi-conscious...he murmured, and muttered in his state of coma, but never regained consciousness. At about 2300 hrs he died. I injected Formalin into the body and also had the coffin partly filled with lime.’ The coffin was then taken away and Bose’s body was cremated.[6]

Mukherjee Commission

The copy of the death certificate in the crematorium records which refers to the alleged corpse of Netaji as being of one Okara Ichiro
In 1999, following a court order, the BJP led Indian government formed Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry. It was headed by Justice (rtd) MK Mukherjee of the Supreme Court of India. The commission perused hundreds of files on Bose's death drawn from several countries and also visited Japan, Russia and Taiwan.
Overturning the findings of previous panels, this commission's findings were that the news of Bose's death in Taipei were a cover-up for his escape to the USSR. The Commission, however, stated that they could not confirm Bose's presence in the USSR for want of evidence.
The Mukherjee Commission submitted its report to Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil on November 8, 2005. The report was tabled in the Indian Parliament on May 17, 2006. However, the Congress Party led Indian Government rejected the findings of the Commission.[7]

Bose mystery in contemporary India

Mission Netaji is a Delhi-based Indian non-profit trust that conducts research on Subhas Chandra Bose's disappearance. Some documents the organisation has dug out have information connected to Bose's disappearance. This led to more documents that remain classified.[8] Several Indian ministries, including the Indian Prime Minister's Office, have refused to make public the documents under the Right to Information Act campaign launched by Mission Netaji, on the ground that their disclosure will affect India's relations with foreign countries.[9]

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