Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

Netaji Inquiry Committee: Dissentient Report of Suresh Chandra Bose (1956)

Introduction

I am constrained to state at the outset that I have had to carry on my duties as Member of this Committee under great handicaps and obstructions in all possible ways, which, in my opinion, is due to the fact that I did not fall in with the opinion of my colleagues and thereby enable them to submit a unanimous report.

Content

 

Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, was pleased to nominate me as a member of this Committee as a representative of our family. I duly accepted it, as I felt it to be my sacred duty to associate myself with an investigation into the mysteries of the alleged demise of my brother, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, at Taihoku in Formosa on the 18th August, 1945.

As would ordinarily be expected, I had a firm belief that this enquiry would be conducted with an impartial, just and open mind and without any preconceived or prejudiced idea or notion and without any mandate from any quarter. I regret very much to state that, in this matter, I have been sorely disappointed.

Although the closest of ties bind me with Netaji, I can assure my countrymen and, incidentally, my Government/ with all the sincerity I possess, that such relationship will not stand in any way in my impartial adjudication of this matter, and, after all, as a brother, I would be more interested than anybody else in knowing exactly what the real truth is. From my limited experience of the little judicial work I did while in Government service, I can justly claim that no considerations, whether personal, Governmental or political, have ever, by the Almighty's Grace, made me deviate from the path of truth and justice. Fortunately for me, there was never any mandate to me from the higher authorities. My experience tells me that mandate from the Government is generally conveyed only to those, who carry it out with unusual ardour and zeal. I have, accordingly, played my part as a member of this Committee to the best of my limited capabilities and strictly in keeping with my ideas and policies, as stated above.

As members of this Committee, there is no gainsaying the fact, that it is our bounden duty to conduct this enquiry with an open and unprejudiced mind and to arrive at a just and impartial finding, as the evidence would justify and not to be influenced by any consideration whatsoever. In this matter, I am aggrieved to say there has been frustration and my colleagues, both connected with the Government, have tried their utmost to secure and to manipulate the evidence, so that it could easily conform with the Prime Minister's statements in Parliament and which is evidently the opinion of his Government and that with them, loyalty to Government has been their guiding principle and "Interest" has had the better of "Duty".

Why this enquiry?

It would be desirable and necessary to state in this connection that the Prime Minister, in reply to questions put in the Parliament by Shri H. V. Kamath, was pleased to state, "I have no doubt in my mind — I did not have it then" (in the Parliament on 5-3-1952) "and I have no doubt today of the fact of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's death" — "I have said that the question of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's death, is, I think, settled beyond doubt. There can be no enquiry about that".

The opinion of the Prime Minister and evidently that of his Government as conveyed in these categorical statements of his, was apparently confirmed by the Chairman of this Committee as his opinion also, in his statement made to the Press in Tokyo on the night of the 4th May, 1956, immediately on our arrival at the Airport there and which was reported in some of the Calcutta newspapers on the 6th idem, that, "his mission was mainly to interview people, who might offer direct evidence on Shri Bose's death". So, the admission of the Chairman exists and that in an initial stage of this enquiry, that his mission was to interview only those persons, who might offer direct evidence on Netaji's death, so as to enable him to confirm his death, which was already the confirmed opinion of the Government and that he had no intention whatsoever of interviewing others, who would be expected to depose contrarily or to take the trouble to ascertain whether Netaji did not die. In view of this, it could almost be presumed that, whether the evidence recorded during the course of this enquiry, justified coming to the finding that the plane crashed or not or whether Netaji died or not, the Chairman appears to have made up his mind to conclude that the plane crashed and that Netaji died as a result of the same. As it appears that the intention of the Government for holding this enquiry was only to confirm. Netaji's death, which was already the confirmed opinion of the Prime Minister and his Government, one fails to understand what the necessity was for obtaining the same opinion again and for spending so much public money for it.

In view of the definite statement recorded above, that, "There can be no enquiry about that", made by a person of the rank and stature of the Prime Minister of India, a question would forthwith arise, "Then why was this enquiry held?" The only simple answer to this would naturally be that there must have been a pressing necessity that compelled the ordering of this enquiry. It appears, that from all that has transpired during the pendency of this enquiry, that, after getting Netaji's death confirmed by this Committee, the ultimate object of the Government is to bring those "ashes" from Tokyo, for reasons best known to the sponsors of this Committee.

I do not propose here to go into the manner in which my colleagues have manipulated the statements tendered by some of the witnesses, but it will suffice to say that in spite of their joint and concerted efforts, they have not met with success and it is my confirmed opinion, after a very careful consideration, that the evidence does not justify the finding that the plane crash took place and that Netaji died therefrom. I, therefore, feel it my duty, not merely out of respect for Netaji, but in the national interest and in deference to truth and candour to record my considered verdict that he did not die in the circumstances, as alleged and as found by my colleagues.

In this situation, I have no other alternative, but to record my dissent and to give my findings and reasons and arguments in support of my findings for the kind consideration of my Government and of my countrymen.

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