67 years old mystery remains unsolved, 255 year old one gets solved
What he did not dwell on is the fate of Netaji which remains shrouded in mystery and deafening silence. His disappearance 67 years ago, on August 18 continues to occupy the minds of Indians all over the world. He was in the forefront of the battle against the holocaust engineered by British government in India. How is it that British and US Intelligence keep facts about him under wraps even in the age of Wikileaks. What all do the inheritor of its India operations know and do not divulge. One can understand the agency of a living person and the possible threats that can emerge but to be afraid of the ghost of an ideal freedom fighter Netaji is a phenomenon that merits rigorous scrutiny. This appears to have no parallel in world history.
Netaji boarded an airplane in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and flew to Taihoku (Taipei) in Taiwan (under Japanese control) on August 17. No one knew with certainty as to what happened to him after that. The controversy over the death of Netaji surfaced after the announcement from Tokyo on August 23, 1945 that Netaji had died in a plane crash on August 18, 1945.
Following an announcement by the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on December 3, 1955, a three-member Inquiry Committee, vide its Notification No F-30(26)FEA/55 dated April 5, 1956, with Shah Nawaz Khan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry for Transport and Railways, as its Chairman and Suresh Chandra Bose, elder brother of Netaji and SN Maitra, ICS, Chief Commissioner, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, as its members was constituted. Suresh Chandra Bose submitted a dissentient report stating that there had been no plane crash involving Netaji's death. The question is manufactured the ‘death in plane crash’ story and why? Two of the other members who were part of the government and not independent chose to rubber stamp the ‘death in plane crash’ story of the vested interests. Interestingly, this committee was not constituted under Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952.
Several members of the Parliament and citizens in general trashed the ‘death in plane crash’ story and made the India Gandhi government constitute Inquiry Commission vide its Notification No 25/14/70-Poll.11 dated July 11, 1970 headed by G D Khosla, retired Chief Justice of Punjab High Court. This Commission too advanced the ‘death in plane crash’ story in its conclusion. Khosla wrote the biography of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
On August 28, 1978, Morarji Desai, the then Prime Minister replied in the Parliament that “There has been two enquiries into the report of the death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in the air-crash on 18th August, 1945 at Taihouku airfield during his air journey to Manchuria…..Since then reasonable doubts have been cast on the correctness of the conclusions reached in the two reports and various important contradictions in the testimony of witnesses has been noticed, some further contemporary documents have also become available. In the light of those doubts and contradictions and those records, Government find it difficult to accept that the earlier conclusion are decisive”. These ‘further contemporary documents’ never came in public domain because Ministries of Home and External Affairs appears to feign ignorance in this regard.
In the matter of a Public Interest Litigation, the Calcutta High Court directed, the Union Government to "launch a vigorous inquiry ... as a special case for the purpose of giving an end to the controversy" surrounding Netaji's disappearance on April 30, 1998. The Court observed that "lapses have occurred from time to time" and "no serious effort in this behalf (Netaji's disappearance) has been made" by the Government.
Taking a cue, West Bengal Legislative Assembly passed a unanimous resolution on December 24, 1998 demanding a fresh Inquiry Commission in order to remove the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Netaji.
Consequently, Union Government notified that "the Central Government is of the opinion that it is necessary to appoint a Commission of Inquiry for the purpose of making an in-depth inquiry into a definitive matter of a public importance" on April 14, 1999.
No one knows as to why none of the previous Khan Inquiry Committee during Nehru ‘s era and Justice Khosla Commission during Indira Gandhi’s era visited Taiwan and still reposed their faith in the ‘death in plane crash’ story. As part of the same story, Taiwan Municipal Government’s official cremation register of 1945, one Ichiro Okura (claimed to be strictly confidential name of Netaji) died on August 19, 1945 of heart failure. Justice Mukherjee's January 2005 visit to Taiwan and his direct interaction with Taiwan Government yielded the disclosure that there was no evidence of any air crash in or around Taipei around 18 August 1945. Who wants to keep Netaji’s fate after August 1945 strictly confidential?
But the 600 page report of the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry on the disappearance of Netaji which is available on the website of Union Ministry of Home Affairs came to the conclusion that “On a conspectus of all the facts and circumstances relevant to the above issues it stands established that emplaning at Saigon on August 17, 1945 Netaji succeeded in evading the Allied Forces and escaping out of their reach and as a camouflage thereof the entire make-believe story of the air crash, Netaji’s death therein and his cremation was engineered by the Japanese army authorities including the two doctors and Habibur Rahman and then aired on August 23, 1945.”Thus, the myth of Netaji’s death in plane crash has crashed. What has survived is the mystery about his whereabouts. It emerges from the report that Government of India chose not disclose certain documents saying, “disclosure of the records would cause injury to India’s relations with some friendly foreign countries”.
Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry has submitted its report on November 8, 2005 but Indian National Congress led government has not accepted its recommendations. Netaji’s disappearance is akin to the disappearance of Mohan Lal Kashmiri after the battle of Plassey, Murshidabad on June 23, 1757. Mohan Lal was one of the two loyal commanders of Bengal’s Nawab, Siraj-ud-Daulah. Nawab had married Mohan Lal’s sister Heera (renamed Aleya). Historian and former Asiatic Society president Amalendu Dey, in his latest book ‘Palasir juddhe hariye Jaowa totthyor shondhane’ (In search of the lost facts of the Battle of Plassey), has claimed that in 1758, Mohan Lal left the battle field to protect Nawab’s son and take him to Mymansingh (now in Bangladesh). After 255 years, it has come to light that Nawab’s and Mohanlal’s descendants are settled across the country and abroad.
How long will it take for facts about Netaji to come to surface? It depends on whims and fancies of the global powers that emerged after 1945 victory or on India’s true independence. Victors not only write history but also maintain studied silence about it. Even after 67 years, citizens remain witness to this silence.