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)

Another new story, different in some main points from those of others has been given by Major K. Sakai, who was the Battalion Commander, in charge of the Taihoku Aerodrome Defence. According to him, the plane crashed at about 10 A.M. i.e., two hours before noon and not at about 2.30 P.M. He saw that the plane had been completely burnt, the left engine buried in the ground, the left wing of the plane broken and lying away from the plane, but the right wing in tack. He also saw that the tail had also broken and was lying separated from the plane and that the plane had also broken into two at the place marked 2 on his sketch A (App. Y) and that the wrecked and broken plane was lying at a distance of 20 to 30 metres from the end of the runway. When he reached the aerodrome at about noon, he met Capt. Nakamura there and who told him that Gen. Shidei and the Pilot were killed inside the plane, but he did not find their dead bodies or remains there and he believed that they were sent to the Hospital with the injured persons.

It is exceedingly strange that all these 8 witnesses, all military officers and educated and respectable gentlemen, should give different versions, regarding the simple questions as to the manner in which Netaji came out of the plane and how he went to the Hospital from the aerodrome. The only conclusion that could possibly be drawn from this is that as it did not actually take place, each of them stated whatever came uppermost in his mind. This, therefore, supports the conclusion arrived at above that the Aircraft Accident did not take place.

Except Capt. Nakamura and Major K. Sakai, all the other six persons named above state to have gone to the Hospital for treatment of their injuries or burns. Their statements in this connection may now be considered.

Col. Rahman started by stating that about 3 P.M. after he and Netaji had reached the hospital, Netaji was taken to the Operation Theatre room, where the Doctor gave him a white transfusion of camphor and which he believed was not blood transfusion. The doctor is reported to have told him that Netaji had a very deep injury and his heart was affected. The Colonel then continued that after Netaji was brought from the Operation Theatre to the general ward, he did not talk much and was not fully conscious and after about an hour, he fell into a complete coma and that about 9 P.M., he expired in the presence of Capt. Ayogi, who, he stated was the doctor, some Japanese nurses, an English-speaking Japanese civilian and himself and not in the presence of the other inmates of the plane, viz., Capt. Arai, Major Takahashi, Col. Nonogaki, Major Kono and Lt. Col. T. Sakai, who had also been taken to the Hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Capt. Arai has stated that he was left at the Hospital gate, from where he walked inside the Hospital and he is definite and has repeated several times that Gen. Shidei was also brought to the Hospital which has been denied by all the other witnesses, who state that the General could not get out of the plane and was burnt inside it. The Captain also stated that he was in a separate room from that in which Netaji was kept and he heard from the nurses at about 10 P.M. that he had expired. He had no personal knowledge about it, nor did he see Netaji's dead body or Netaji at all in the hospital. According to Col. Nonogaki, however, Capt. Arai, Major Takahashi, Major Kono and Lt. Col. T. Sakai along with himself were taken to another hospital at six the same evening, where they heard about Netaji's death. Major Kono and Lt. Col. T. Sakai support this statement also.

Major Takahashi's statements are different, viz., Netaji was first brought to a room, where he and 6 or 7 others were kept and was then removed somewhere else, that he did not see Netaji's dead body, nor had he personal knowledge about his death. He only heard about it from Col. Nonogaki, who as well as Major Kono and Lt. Col. T. Sakai, stated that all of them were removed the same evening to a different Hospital, where they learnt about Netaji's death.

The statements of Col. Nonogaki are again otherwise and to the effect, that he alone was taken to one room, whereas all the others including Netaji were taken to a different room and also that about 6 the same evening, he, Capt. Arai, Major Takahashi, Major Kono and Lt. Col. Sakai were taken to another hospital, where he heard about Netaji's death.

Major Kono's version is that on reaching the hospital, he was helped by 2 persons and he walked to the ward, where he learnt that Mr. Bose was in the next room, that about 8 the same night, he was taken to another hospital along with others about 20 kilometres or 12 miles off where he heard about Netaji's death, either on the first or on the second day of his stay there.

It appears from Lt. Col. T. Sakai's written statement that Mr. Bose was lying on a bed opposite to his in the same room of the hospital, that he and some others, who had received slight injuries, were sent to a branch hospital the same evening, where he learnt afterwards that Mr. Bose had died.

In hospital and death

These are the six persons, who are alleged to have received injuries along with Netaji, and who were also taken along with him to the same hospital for treatment. It is unique that except Col. Rahman, none of the five others had any personal knowledge of Netaji's death, nor had any of them even seen his dead body, though he is said to have died in the same hospital. So, regarding Netaji's death, Col. Rahman's statement remained absolutely uncorroborated, though it could have easily been corroborated by all these five persons. Under these circumstances, Netaji's death cannot be accepted to have been proved. Moreover, that though a high-ranking military officer, Lt. Gen. T. Shidei, along with 2 pilots are alleged to have died instantaneously in that plane crash and though Netaji, the Head of a State recognised by the Japanese Government and also their ally, is alleged to have died only six hours later, as a result of the same crash, no enquiry was made by the Japanese Government nor by any Japanese officer, as has also been stated by Gen. H. Isayama, witness No. 57, Chief of Staff, Formosan Army, which creates a good deal of reasonable suspicion about this alleged incident.

The evidence of the two Japanese doctors and the two nursing orderlies, attached to that hospital and who have been examined by us, may now be considered. Dr. T. Yoshimi, witness No. 48, is said to have been the Medical Officer in Charge of the Nanmon Military Hospital, where Dr. T. Tsuruta, witness No. 39, was one of the Medical Officers, and Messrs. Mitsui Kazuo and M. Miyoshi were two Medical Orderlies, witnesses Nos. 54 and 59 respectively.

Dr. Yoshimi started by stating that at about 2.30 P.M. on 18.8.45 a "Shidosha", carrying Mr. Bose alone, arrived at the Hospital, followed by a car occupied only by a staff officer of the Military Headquarters in Formosa and then by a lorry carrying 12 or 13 injured persons and that Mr. Bose, who was lying absolutely naked on a bed in the "Shidosha", was brought into the Hospital on a stretcher. When he examined Mr. Bose in the Dressing Room and not in the Operation Theatre, he found that Mr. Bose's burns were of the severest, third degree type, but there was no injury on any part of his body, from which blood came out. He had high fever and his heart was weak. Dr. Tsuruta applied white ointment on the burns, which were all over his body and bandaged them, and while this was being done, he gave him one after the other, for his heart, four injections of Vita camphor, two injections of Digitamine and three injections of Ringer's solution. He also let out about 200 c.c. of blood and transfused about 400 c.c. of blood, which he obtained from a Japanese soldier there. He was then given Sulfonamide injection to prevent infection. He then went to attend to the other injured persons, leaving Dr. Tsuruta in charge of Mr. Bose, during whose treatment and even later, the following persons were present, viz., Mr. Nakamura, witness No. 55, the Chief Nurse and another nurse, both Japanese, and Col. Rahman. As he did not consider Mr. Bose's case to be satisfactory, he instructed Dr. Tsuruta to give him Vita camphor injections every half an hour. During this period, he paid occasional visits to Mr. Bose, whom he found talking in a low tone to Col. Rahman. At 7 or 7.30 P.M., Dr. Tsuruta informed him that Mr. Bose's condition had deteriorated and his pulse was very weak. He immediately started giving him injections of Vita camphor and Digitamine, but to no effect, and shortly after 8 P.M., Mr. Bose breathed his last. He then tried artificial respiration, but that was also of no use. At the time of his death, he, Dr. Tsuruta, Mr. Nakamura, those two Japanese nurses, Col. Rahman, one Military Policeman and Col. Nonogaki were present. He then conveyed the sad news over the phone to the Formosan Army Military Headquarters, from where two staff officers, the Adjutant to the Commander-in-Chief, several other persons and a platoon of military guard arrived the same night. Mr. Bose's dead body was then removed to a corner of the same room and a screen was put in front of the body. He also stated that the Assistant Pilot, sub-officer Aoyagi and the Pilot, the condition of both of whom was serious, were also brought to his hospital, where after being treated for about 3 days, they were sent to another hospital, where, he heard, they died, but this has been contradicted by almost all the other witnesses, who stated that both of them died inside the plane.

The statements of Dr. Tsuruta are different on some important points. According to him, on 18.8.45 at about 3 P.M., about a dozen injured persons, including Mr. Bose and Col. Rahman, arrived at the hospital in a truck and all of them were carried to the Dressing Room and they were attended to there, while they were lying on their stretchers and after having been dressed, all the Japanese were removed to one room and Mr. Bose and Col. Rahman were sent to another room, and for privacy, a screen was put round Mr. Bose's bed. When Mr. Bose was first brought to the Dressing Room, both the doctors attended on him and his burns, which were of the severest type, were smeared with white ointment and were then bandaged. Later on, he was removed to the Ward, where an injection of Ringer's solution and after that, injections of Cardiotonica and Sulfonamide were given him. To the best of his recollection, no other injection or blood transfusion was given him, nor was his blood let out. A Japanese Military Police soldier was put on as a guard over him. He was present all the time in Netaji's room and Dr. Yoshimi paid occasional visits and there was no whole-time .nurse on duty in his room. At about 7 P.M., his condition suddenly took a turn for the worse, when they gave him injections for the heart, but to no effect, and he expired between 7 and 8 P.M., when both the doctors, Col. Rahman, Mr. Nakamura, the Military Police guard and two nurses were present. The Chief nurse, a Japanese and two other nurses from Okinawa and not from Formosa, occasionally attended on him. His body remained on his bed and at the same place for the whole of the night.

Medical Orderly, Mr. M. Kazuo, gives another version, viz., that all the injured persons arrived at about 2 P.M. at the Hospital in a Military truck and in a car, called "Joyosha" in Japanese. He rang the alarm bell and 20 medical orderlies collected near the vehicles with 4 or 5 stretchers. The first injured person taken to the hospital was Major Kono, whom he carried on his back, because he was not so seriously injured, though he was seen by the members of the Committee to have been seriously injured. When he returned to the vehicles, he saw a great big man, non-Japanese, evidently Mr. Bose, lying on a stretcher, wearing the full uniform of a light brown colour, resembling that of an Airforce Officer, which wholly contradicts the statements of the other witnesses, who stated that he was absolutely naked. The buttons of his tunic were open and the front portion of his trousers was slit open with a pair of scissors to expose the burns on his legs. His clothes were taken off and he was made to wear hospital uniform. Dr. Yoshimi applied white ointment on his burns and bandaged them and he only helped in bringing the medicines etc. He had no other injury except burns and he had no hair on his head. On reaching the Hospital, Mr. Bose, Col. Rahman, Lt. Col. Sakai, Major Kono, Sub-Officer Aoyagi and Sergeant Okita were taken straight from the vehicles to their beds in the ward, where he alone was posted on day and night duty and, after their injuries had been attended to, no other orderly or nurse was in that room. Dr. Yoshimi visited Mr. Bose every half an hour and he saw Dr. Tsuruta come to the ward only once with the other doctor, but did not see him again. So, according to this witness, Dr. Tsuruta did not attend on Mr. Bose at all. Later on, the witness stated that out of the 3 or 4 nurses, who were present, when Mr. Bose was dressed in the first instance, one of them was from Formosa. Mr. Nakamura talked to Mr. Bose at times. The doctor gave Mr. Bose a number of injections. At about 9 P.M. the doctor noticed that his pulse had become very weak and he expired at 9.30 P.M., when he, Dr. Yoshimi, Miss Otake, a Japanese nurse, Col. Rahman and Mr. Nakamura were present. It is strange that this witness gives a story quite different from those of the others and none of them states about the 4" long deep cut, profusely bleeding injury on Netaji's head, as has been stated by Col. Rahman.

The other Medical Orderly Mr. M. Miyoshi, though on duty at the Hospital at that time, has stated nothing that has been stated by the two doctors or by the other Medical Orderly. It has not been explained either, as to how this could happen. His deposition has been dealt with in an early part of this report under the heading, "Volunteer Witnesses".

Mr. J. Nakamura deposed that on the evening of 18.8.45, he was taken to the Hospital, as he knew English and had to interpret into Japanese to the Hospital staff, what Mr. Bose said or wanted. He was brought to a large room, where he saw Mr. Bose bandaged all over and lying on a bed, which was screened off and with Col. Rahman and 3 other Japanese officers lying on their respective beds and all of whom, he was told, were injured in a plane crash. When he came near Mr. Bose's bed, he heard him speak to Col. Rahman in a low voice, asking him to take care of his men, who were following him to Formosa. After about an hour, he asked the Colonel about Gen. Shidei and after half an hour or so, he said that blood was rushing to his head from his waist. Soon after 9 or 9.30 P.M., Netaji's last words were "I want to sleep". He then started snoring and after ten minutes or a little more, "his head fell forward towards the chest and that was the last" and at that time, he, Dr. Yoshimi, Col. Rahman and 6 or 7 soldiers, including Medical Orderlies were present. There was no nurse or anybody else in that room at that time. After Netaji's death, all the Japanese stood up and saluted and Col. Rahman knelt by Netaji's bed and prayed twice. After he prayed for about quarter of an hour, he left for home. It will thus be seen that a fresh witness narrates a new story and which appears to have been the rule, rather than the exception.