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 person, who is in a position to say something in this connection, is Shri Harin Shah, witness No. 9, a journalist with several high connections in his line. He stated that in November, 1945, he went to China as a war correspondent on behalf of the Free Press of India News Agency of Bombay.

In August, 1946, the Chinese Government at Nanking requested him and a number of prominent foreign correspondents to visit Formosa, which they had taken over from the surrendering Japanese authorities. While they were at Shanghai, on their way to Formosa, two Indian businessmen asked him whether he would enquire about the reported death of Netaji there. This idea struck him and he made up his mind to do so. They accordingly reached Taihoku on 30-8-46 and after contacting the local high officials there, came across sister Tsan Pi Sha, a Formosan nurse, who told him that she had attended on "Mr. Chandra Bose" in the Military Hospital at Taihoku on 18.8.45. Excerpts from her story to Shri Shah are as follows: "She worked in Operation Theatre. Netaji was treated in the medical ward. He was brought to the hospital about noon of August 18 and died at 11 in the same night...he stayed about 11 hours in the hospital...there was an A.D.C. with Netaji, tall man with beard...three other men (Japanese Officers) were burnt and admitted with Netaji. These three Japanese Officers died after 3 days...details about the injuries to Netaji were not known to her. After the Netaji's death, the body was put in a wooden box and put in a truck...There is a house, called a temple, inside the Hospital compound, where dead bodies are taken for rites. Netaji's body was taken to that house...After the death, Netaji's body was taken to the temple, stated above and kept there for 3 days according to the Japanese Buddhist Customs, after being removed from the Hospital...he had a military uniform only, nothing else...Netaji was placed in the medical ward, which was converted for surgical purpose. She is a Surgical nurse and took care of Netaji till he died...Netaji was burnt all over the body, only olive oil was applied...he was unconscious...As he was very severely burnt, there was no place where injections could be given. Just before death he seemed to groan and seemed to her to say "quiet death"...Netaji's bed was kept in a corner of the room and Habibur Rahman's bed was close to Netaji's bed. There were three beds; Netaji's bed, Habibur Rahman's bed and third bed was for the Nurse."

Witness No. 21, Col. H. L. Chopra, who held an important position in the I.N.A., has stated that at Bangkok on the afternoon of 18.8.45, Major Ran Singh, also of the I.N.A., informed him that a message had been received that Netaji had been killed in an air crash, though the general evidence on record is that death took place between 8 and 9 P.M, Major S. Nagatomo, witness No. 60, has stated that, as second Adjutant in the Army Headquarters at Taihoku, he received a series of telephone messages from the aerodrome and subsequently from the Hospital about the plane crash, injuries to Netaji, his treatment in the Hospital and subsequent death, which news he also received at about 3 P.M., after which the Army Commander, Gen. Ando, went to the hospital and saw Netaji's dead body within 4 P.M. and he, the Major, saw the dead body also within 5 P.M.

In my opinion, the evidence, regarding Netaji's injuries, his treatment in the hospital and his death there, as obtained also from the two Medical Officers, one nursing Orderly and a Formosan nurse, all said to have been attached to that hospital and who are alleged to have attended on Netaji, is so discrepant and contradictory, that no reliance can be placed on the same and what they stated has been fabricated. Narration of a true incident, even after a lapse of ten years could not be so discrepant and contradictory. As the injuries, alleged to have been received by Netaji as a result of an alleged plane crash, and also his alleged death, as a result of those alleged injuries, have not been established in any way and as such worthless evidence only proves that those alleged incidents did not take place, such stories were concocted to support the secret plan of the Japanese as well as of Netaji to announce that Netaji had died. I am convinced that these are additional confirmations of my finding, already arrived at, that the Aircraft Accident Did Not Take Place.

Failure to produce photograph of coffin or deadbody

There is a very interesting feature about the photograph, which Col. Rahman stated was taken by a photographer sent by the Military Headquarters at Taihoku on the morning of 20.8.45. No explanation has been given anywhere why the photographer was not sent on 18.8.45 or 19.8.45. He admitted that the lid of the coffin was removed, the body was uncovered, the face was open and he could recognise the face, and a photo of the body inside the coffin, but excluding the face, was taken along with him sitting by the side of that coffin. He asked the photographer to exclude the face, as it was disfigured and which, according to him, was done. This would mean that the photograph of the whole of the coffin was not taken. If the photograph of the face was not taken, it is not understood with what intention or idea or utility, the face was excluded in the photograph. Then again, the Colonel stated that he sent a copy of this photograph to the Committee, but as they have not sent me that photograph, or, as a matter of fact, any other photograph or sketch or other relevant papers, it is not within my knowledge whether the Chairman actually received that photograph or not. The newspapers have not published any such photograph. What I have seen, is one in which Col. Rahman is said to be sitting on a chair with some parts of his body in bandages and in front of something said to be an urn. In my opinion, the real necessity for this photograph would be to prove that Netaji was dead and that his dead body would be shown inside a coffin. As I can in no way be satisfied for the exclusion of Netaji's face in that alleged photograph, the fact of its exclusion makes me believe that the body shown in that photograph, if any, was not that of Netaji. It would at the same time confirm my conviction that as Netaji did not die, his dead body was not available for being photographed. The Japanese proclaimed to the world that Netaji was dead. If they had any intention of confirming the truth of what they had proclaimed, a photographic print of Netaji's dead body would have been the best unfailing proof of the same, and which could not possibly have been challenged and so they would decidedly have taken a photograph of Netaji's dead body and shown it to the world, if Netaji had actually been dead. Col. Rahman stated that they took a photograph of his dead body, but exclusion of his face in it, which is something very ridiculous, would convince anybody that as Netaji was not dead, his dead body could possibly be available for being photographed and if a photograph had been taken of a dead body without a face, it could have been somebody else's body. In any case, no such ridiculous photograph was produced. This also goes to confirm my opinion that Netaji did not die, as alleged.

Cremation

The next important stage in the evidence would be the cremation. As the evidence on record regarding the aircraft accident, the injuries received by Netaji, his treatment in the hospital and his death there have been such, as to come to the only conclusion that they are all concocted and false, the evidence regarding cremation should be considered very carefully and a conclusion arrived at accordingly.

According to Col. Rahman, the coffin was put in a Military lorry or ambulance on 20.8.45 and in front of which was a car occupied by Japanese Officers and behind the coffin, were two lorries, full of Japanese soldiers and hospital staff, followed by their cars, carrying officers. Mr. J. Nakamura stated that on 20-8-45, the coffin was carried in an ambulance, which was accompanied by only 2 or 3 cars, containing 5 or 6 civilians and military officers, and which was deliberately done, to keep the news of Netaji's death a secret and to keep it confined only to high ranking military officers. Major Nagatomo, the second Adjutant in the Army Headquarters at Taihoku, stated that he was put in charge of making arrangements for the cremation. As has been the rule, as stated before, he has come forward with a new story and starting with it, he has given the date as 19-8-45 and not 20-8-45, as stated by the other two witnesses, when, soon after mid-day, after paying due respects to Netaji's body inside the coffin, he closed the lid, nailed it and had it placed in the middle of a military truck with 12 soldiers all around it. Col. Rahman, Mr. Nakamura and he got into a car and went direct to the crematorium with the truck following them. There were 3 furnaces or incinerators in the crematorium, as shown in his sketch A, (App. 2) and after opening the door of furnace No.l, which was in the middle, the sliding plate was pulled out and the coffin, containing the dead body was placed on it and pushed back into the furnace, because it is customary with the Japanese to cremate the body in the coffin. They then went behind the furnace and lit the fire, after which, he came to the front and after locking the furnace door, he took the key with him and all three of them went away in the same car. Next day, at about 8 A.M., all three of them came to the crematorium and after unlocking the furnace door with the key that was with him, he pulled out the sliding plate and according to Buddhist custom, he picked up, first the throat bone with a pair of chop sticks and placed it inside a wooden box, 8" cube, which he had taken with him. He then picked a bone from every portion of the body and placed them in that box. Col. Rahman then did the same and after the whole of that box was filled up, the lid was nailed and after wrapping it in white cloth, it was hung from the neck of Col. Rahman and all three of them went in the car to Nishi (West) Honganji Temple, for depositing the same there, after due ceremony.

According to Col. Rahman, however, after they had reached the crematorium, the coffin was unloaded from the lorry by the Japanese soldiers and escort and placed outside the entrance to the crematorium, where the body was taken out of the coffin by the Japanese and then taken inside, where there were 12 to 14 incinerators in two rows and the body, taken out of the coffin already, was placed inside the Chamber just near the passage. As the fire was burning underneath, he locked the furnace door and kept the key overnight with him and left for the hospital. Next morning, viz., on 21-8-45 and not on 20-8-45, he went to the crematorium with Mr. Nakamura and 1 or 2 other Japanese and opened the lock of the furnace door with the key that was with him and they collected some ashes from the head side, nearest to the door and placed them in the urn and this included a piece of gold, which, he said was the filling of one of Netaji's teeth. They then went to a Japanese Temple outside Taihoku town, where they deposited the urn and where Japanese priests were praying, according to arrangements that had been fixed up earlier.

Mr. Nakamura has narrated a fairly lengthy story, viz., that when he reached the crematorium, he found about 15 Japanese soldiers already there, and who unloaded the coffin from the ambulance and taking it inside, placed it, viz., the coffin, inside the only furnace in the crematorium, which he has shown in his sketch B, (App. a) and not 3, or 12 or 14 furnaces, as has been stated by the other two witnesses. The soldiers then returned outside the crematorium, where he, Col. Rahman and the others were waiting and reported to them what they had done. Then, all five of them, led by Col. Rahman, entered the crematorium and stood in front of the furnace door and saluted and paid their respects to the dead body. They then went behind the furnace, where a priest was standing with burning incense sticks in his hand, one of which he offered to the Colonel, who, however, could not catch it with his fingers, as they were bandaged. He took it and made the Colonel hold it between the edge of his palms and helped him in placing it in the hole at the rear of the furnace. He and the others also put in burning incense sticks through the same hole. All of them came out of the crematorium and he went home in a separate car. On the following day, (21-8-45), he arrived at the crematorium at about noon and found Col. Rahman already there with 15 soldiers and some high ranking Officers. A crematorium employee asked them to come in, which they did, Col. Rahman leading them. The employee opened the furnace door, pulled out the sliding tray. A priest brought chopsticks and as the Colonel could not hold the same, he did so and picked up first the throat bone, then the lower jaw bone and after that, other bones and placed them inside an urn and Col. Rahman touched the upper part of the chopsticks held by him only twice. A Japanese Military Officer then picked up bones and ashes, and after the urn was filled up, he carried the urn from a sling hung round his neck, as the Colonel's neck was burnt and bandaged. Both of them and nobody else, then went to Nishi (West) Honganji Temple, which was near the hospital and handed over the urn to the head priest there. There he saw another urn, which the priest told him contained the ashes of Gen. Shidei. He then went home and the Colonel returned to the hospital.

It will thus be seen that these 3 witnesses have given 3 versions, different from one another on many salient points and which all go to show and confirm that the story of cremation narrated by them is a myth and did not take place at all. Therefore, after a careful consideration of the evidence that has been discussed above, I am fully satisfied that the aircraft accident and all the incidents subsequent to it, viz., the injuries to Netaji, resulting therefrom, his treatment in the hospital, his death there and the cremation of his dead body, as stated by the witnesses, did not take place and are decidedly false and, vice-versa, due to these incidents not having taken place, the evidence adduced is necessarily contradictory and highly discrepant and of a nature, which one rarely comes across.

Ashes

The ashes now hold in Renkoji temple in Tokyo cannot, therefore, be those of Netaji and it is for the same reason that the evidence regarding the same, from its transfer from a Temple in or near Taihoku to its final destination in Tokyo, after passing through different channels, is also so discrepant. Such evidence therefore, is unbelievable and unreliable.

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