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One of the biggest mysteries, then Government failed to solve,On one hand, many thinks that Netaji S C Bose died in a plane crash while on the other hand many people says that he survived that plane crash and he lived….

Well this is a debatable matter… FYI latest report says that Netaji survived that plane crash.

Subhash Chandra Bose death: How the controversy unfolded over last 70 years…

Subhash Chandra Bose death

Subhash Chandra Bose death:

In August 1945, after the Japanese News Agency announced the death of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in a plane crash, Mahatma Gandhi believed in the report of his death and added that one should learn from how Netaji lived.

Seventy-two years since the report of Bose’s death, however, the country continues to debate whether or not the plane crash story holds any ground. The raging controversy resulted in the government setting up two official inquiries into the death and later appointing Justice M K Mukherjee to re-examine the findings.

Later, in 2015, the government of India decided to declassify the files relating to Bose and make them accessible to the public in the National Archives of India. On Wednesday, the Centre, in a surprise move, responded to a Right to Information (RTI) application on his death report and stated that Bose did indeed pass away in the place crash that took place on August 18, 1945.

Airplane Lost Crash Time Jungle
Ahmadreza89 / Pixabay

“After considering the reports of Shahnawaz Committee, Justice G D Khosla Commission and Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry, the government has come to the conclusion that Netaji has died in plane crash in 1945,” the Home ministry report stated in the RTI reply.

The sudden announcement by the Centre has once again brought upfront the controversy surrounding the death of Bose. Specifically, the piece of news has come as a blow to certain sections of Bose’ family who have been living with the firm conviction that Bose did not pass away in the plane crash.

Condemning the announcement made by the Centre, Netaji’s grand nephew and Bengal BJP’s vice president Chandra Bose said he would take up the matter with the Prime Minister and said the family would take out a rally in protest against the announcement.

Subhash Chandra Bose death

What was the official report on Netaji’s death?

In August 1945, after the Japanese had surrendered, Netaji took off on a Japanese bomber to go to Manchuria from Bangkok. However, minutes after the plane took off, it crashed. Bose was travelling along with Japanese General Shidei and other Japanese officers.

Bose was burnt badly in the crash and was taken to a general hospital where he was declared dead. His body was reported to be cremated the same day and the ashes taken to Tokyo, where they were said to have been buried in a Buddhist temple.

However, in the aftermath of the cremation, no photographs or death certificate were made available, which is what initiated the controversy.

Subhash Chandra Bose death

What is the controversy surrounding the death report?

While most people believed the death report, there were some who believed the story had been cooked up to enable Bose to escape to Russia. There were several rumours of him being still alive and people spotting him. In February 1954, journalist Elliot Erikson wrote in the National Republic that there is a strong possibility of Bose being alive and that several people had spotted him including the nurse who treated him.

One of the most persistent voices rejecting the plane crash theory is that of Dr. Purabi Roy, former professor of International Affairs at Kolkata’s Jadavpur University. Roy is of the firm belief that Bose had taken refuge in Russia. 

Writing in History Today, journalist Hugh Purcell had mentioned a conversation with Roy wherein she spoke of a file kept in Russia that has minutes of a Politburo meeting of August 1946, when Voroshilov, Mikoyan, Molotov and others discussed whether Bose should be allowed to stay in the Soviet Union.

One of the most persistent voices rejecting the plane crash theory is that of Dr. Purabi Roy, former professor of International Affairs at Kolkata’s Jadavpur University. Roy is of the firm belief that Bose had taken refuge in Russia.

Subhash Chandra Bose death

Further, there is also a theory that Bose returned to India and lived as a hermit in Faizabad in Oudh. A reclusive old man who went by the name, Bhagwanji or Gumnami Baba lived there and was believed by locals to be none other than Bose. 

When the old man in Faizabad passed away in 1985, he is believed to have left behind a number of his trunks. In an attempt to solve the death mystery, Bose’s niece Lalitha obtained a High Court order to look into the contents of the trunks. She claimed to have seen letters written in the handwriting of Bose and family photographs among other things in the trunks left behind by Gumnami Baba, all of which was sent to the District Treasury.

The high court order obtained by Lalitha led to the appointment of Justice M K Mukherjee to start a rigorous inquiry into the plane crash theory. This was, however, not the first such attempt made by the Indian government to solve the death mystery. Previously, two other inquiries had been set up to examine the Bose death mystery.

Subhash Chandra Bose death

What were the findings of the official inquiries set up by the Indian government?

In 1946, confronted by swirling rumours, Governor-General Lord Mountbatten asked Colonel John Figgess to enquire into the death mystery. The Figgess report stated the following:

“As a result of a series of interrogations of individuals named in the following paragraphs it is confirmed as certain that S C Bose died in a Taihoku Military Hospital (Nammon Ward) sometime between 1700 hours and 2000 hours local time on the August 18, 1945. The cause of death was heart failure resulting from multiple burns and shock.”

The report consisted of interviews with survivors of the plane crash, the doctors who treated Bose and those who were involved in his post death arrangements.

Later, in 1956, the government of India appointed a three- member committee headed by Shah Nawaz Khan to investigate the plane crash theory. The Shah Nawaz committee too confirmed the Figgs report. However, the report was dismissed by Bose’s family, in particular by his brother, Suresh Chandra Bose who accused the committee of withholding important information.

Subhash Chandra Bose death

In 1970, a new commission was put in place, the G D Khosla commission, which once again confirmed the plane crash theory. However, the rumours of Bose persisted and so did pressure from Bose’s family members.

Finally, on account of the high court order obtained by Bose’s niece, Lalitha, the government in 1999 appointed Justice M.K. Mukherjee to launch a vigorous inquiry. As described by journalist Hugh Purcell, Justice Mukherjee drove to the District Treasury to take a look at the contents of the boxes acquired from Gumnami baba.

The contents of the box included a pair of German binoculars, a Corona typewriter, a pipe, a Rolex watch (believed to be Netaji’s watch by one of the spectators), a box of five teeth and a pair of silver round spectacles. Along with these there appeared a large collection of English classic novels and books.

Airplane Wreck Wreckage Damaged
Free-Photos / Pixabay

 In his 2006 report, Justice Mukherjee concluded that though Netaji is definitely dead now, he definitely did not die in the plane crash and the ashes kept in the temple are not his. Though he did not publicly subscribe to the view that Netaji and Gumnami baba were the same people, Purcell mentioned in his article that in 2010 Mukherjee was caught off guard in a TV interview saying that he thinks Bose was indeed the old man who lived in Faizabad.

Despite the findings of the Mukherjee Commission, a Japanese investigation confirmed in 2016 that Bose had died in the plane crash. The recent announcement made by the Centre has once again stuck to this view, much to the disappointment of Bose’s family who agree with the report of Justice Mukherjee.

Subhash Chandra Bose death

Japanese government report 1956, declassified September 2016

An investigative report by Japanese government titled “Investigation on the cause of death and other matters of the late Subhas Chandra Bose” was declassified on 1 September 2016. It concluded that Bose died in a plane crash in Taiwan on 18 August 1945.

The report was completed in January 1956 and was handed over to the Indian embassy in Tokyo, but was not made public for more than 60 years as it was classified. According to the report, just after takeoff a propellor blade on the airplane in which Bose was traveling broke off and the engine fell off the plane, which then crashed and burst into flames.

When Bose exited it his clothes caught fire and he was severely burned. He was admitted to hospital, and although he was conscious and able to carry on a conversation for some time he died several hours later.



One thought on “STRANGE INDIA : #23 Subhash Chandra Bose Death Mystery”
  1. […] are several questions that yet remain unanswered, just like the mystery surrounding the death of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. In fact this may be one of the biggest cover ups in the history of Independent […]

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