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)

This clearly shows that at the conclusion of the investigation, the suspicion remained that Netaji had escaped and had hid himself somewhere and this is, therefore, a very strong challenge to the findings of my colleagues that Netaji was dead.

A letter at page 32 written just before the one considered above, also arrived at the same conclusion.

 

"No. C-5, Intelligence Bureau, (H.D.), New Delhi 3, Dated the 19 Feb. 46, Secret.

My dear Young,

We have at last completed an examination of the information available here relating to the alleged death of Bose, and the result is not entirely satisfactory for it reveals many discrepancies which, until clarified, make any definite conclusion on this incident a little doubtful...The SACSEA Commission No.1 report dated 6 November 1945 states:.....It is beyond doubt that he (Bose) had plans to go underground together with a number of selected friends of his movement. The earlier report from the Commission dated 18 October, 1945, suggested that the Japanese had undertaken to give Bose the necessary protection (to go underground).

Major Courtenay Young,
Intelligence Division,                                                  Yours sincerely,
C.I.C.B., H. G. SAC SEA,                                         Sd. W. Mckwright."

Singapore.

 

The facts elicited from these extracts from Top Secret Reports clearly show that the findings of my colleagues, that aircraft accident took place and that Netaji died, cannot be correct, as British and American Intelligence Officers, in spite of thorough investigation in all those areas, soon after Netaji's departure from Saigon on 17-8-45, themselves failed to arrive at that conclusion and had to remain content with the suspicion that Netaji was alive somewhere.

As regards the ashes, this report says at Page 17, "Ashes May Not Be Bose's. Second, what happened to his remains? The ashes, supposed to be his, were brought to Tokyo. But ashes don't prove who the dead man is, they might be anybody's or they may not be those of a human being at all", and about the photographs, it has been observed at Page 18, "The above story cannot be taken as final until the photographs stated to have been taken at this spot, and the actual remains of Bose have been examined."

Finally, at Page 17, the conclusion is, "So the mystery remains unsolved, and local Indians are no more convinced of his death than they were at the time it was announced. If anything, they are more convinced than ever, that it is all a make-believe by Mr. Bose." So, this Secret report finally concludes that the local Indians, even with the lapse of time and with no further news regarding Netaji, instead of believing that he is dead, are more convinced than ever that his death is a make-believe or, in other words, a faked story concocted by him.

It will thus be seen, from what has been written above, that British Indian Police Officers, both British and Indian, as well as British and American Military Intelligence Officers, made thorough investigations and search for Netaji in all the areas, where they thought he could possibly have been, soon after his departure from Saigon on the 17th August, 1945, but in spite of their sincere efforts to arrest him under a warrant under the Enemy Agents' Ordinance, which they were armed with, or as a War Criminal, for having waged war against the Victorious Allies and, especially, against his King and Emperor, they not only failed in their mission, but were unable to trace his whereabouts. As a result of this frustration, it would ordinarily have been expected of them to report that Netaji died as a result of that aircraft accident, but it is strange, that the result of such vigorous and on-the-spot enquiries, led them to come to the finding, that they could not secure conclusive evidence that Netaji was dead and that they were left with no other alternative, but to give the final verdict, that he was probably living and hiding somewhere. I consider myself exceedingly fortunate to have succeeded in securing some Top Secret Reports, the findings in which must be admitted by everybody to be very important and exceedingly reliable, and extracts from which, quoted above, fully support my findings, and in my being able to secure a few photographs, sketches and other papers, which along with other important papers, were indispensably necessary for writing my report and which our Government have intentionally withheld from me, for some of the reasons, stated by me already and which, I believe, will be readily understood by my countrymen and others. By the Almighty's Grace and Blessings, I have been able to surmount at least some of the obstructions and hindrances that were intentionally placed in my way by our Government to make it impossible for me to write this report and that He only has enabled me to fulfil my duty in a humble manner and with my limited capabilities, not only to my humble self, but also to my Government and to my esteemed countrymen.

>Death denied, initially by Chairman, then by 14 others

The remaining evidence on record is, however, in quite a different strain, viz., that Netaji is not dead. The Chairman made a public announcement recently, that out of about 70 witnesses examined, only four stated that Netaji was not dead and they were Shri U. M. Thevar, M.L. A. Madras, Dy. Chairman, All India Forward Bloc, who was the first to appear before us, but for certain reasons, declined to make any statement and Sarbashri S. M. Goswami, Dwijendra Nath Bose and Arabindo Bose, the two named last, being Netaji's nephews. This number is far from being a correct one. It should be fifteen. It compels me to repeat, that due to His Grace, these fifteen persons were at one time led by no other person than the Chairman of this Committee, who, according to the statement of Shri Arabindo Bose before us on 26.4.56, publicly declared at a meeting near the Octerlony Monument in Calcutta on the 23rd January 1951, Netaji's Birthday Anniversary, as the main speaker, that Netaji was alive. Evidently, with the intention of proving that he did not make such a declaration, he called upon Shri Bose to produce some evidence to prove this allegation against him whereupon Shri Bose made the following statement on 8.6.56: "The Chairman has challenged the veracity of my statement and wanted me to produce some evidence that he actually made that sort of statement. At that time, I had told him that thousands and thousands of people would come and bear me out on this point, if they were put this question whether Shri Shah Nawaz Khan had made such a statement in these meetings or not. The Chairman had mentioned whether there were any reports on the same lines in the newspapers. I have gone through the old files of only two Calcutta newspapers, namely, the Hindusthan Standard, dated 24th January, 1951 and the Ananda Bazar Patrika, dated 25th January, 1951 and have got the following excerpts from the news published in the papers, which are quoted here, viz., Hindusthan Standard (front page), dated 24th January, 1951..."Said Major General Shah Nawaz Khan hoisting the National Flag amidst shouts of 'Netaji Zindabad', 'Jai Hind' and 'Bonde Mataram'. The General expressed the hope that Netaji would come back in their midst at the time when they would be celebrating his next birthday".

Verbatim transliteration of excerpts from news published in the Ananda Bazar Patrika, dated 25th January, 1951, are: "...Tumul Bondemataram, Jai Hind abong Netaji Zindabad probhiriti Dhwanir moddhe pataka uttalan karite uthiya Major General Shah Nawaz Khan balen agami bathsar jakhan tahara Netajir 56th janmothsab koriben, takhan tini swayang tahader majhe ekanta bhabe thakiben boliya asha karen".

So the Chairman himself made an announcement in a public meeting in Calcutta on 23.1.51, where more than 100 thousand persons were present, that Netaji was alive. He is now definitely of the opposite opinion and it may be due to his having received some secret information after 23.1.51 about Netaji's death or it may be due to some other reason.

In addition to the four persons named by the Chairman, the following eleven have also stated before us that Netaji did not die, viz., Captain Gulzara Singh, Lt. N. B. Das, Mr. Kazo Satoh, Col. Thakur Singh, Mr. N. Kitazawa, Dr. S. N. Dutt, Srimati Ila Pal Chowdhury, and Sarbashri Aswini Kumar Gupta, Jagadish Chandra Sinha, Narayan Das and Satyendra Nath Sen, out of whom Mr. K. Satoh and Lt. N. B. Das have stated that they saw Netaji take off in a separate plane, without Col. Rahman in it and Dr. S. N. Dutt has given very clear and cogent reasons that Netaji is alive. He has very thoughtfully narrated a story from the evidence on record, which is certainly worthy of serious consideration. It is, "Sherlock Holmes would probably sum up the situation as follows: At Taihoku, a minor plane accident was stage-managed by a deliberate collision with a boulder. This would support the police officers' statement of having seen the plane under repairs at the airport. Netaji's face was then heavily bandaged up to avoid identification and Col. Rahman's hand was touched with carbolic acid. They were then rushed off to a hospital. During the night, the pilot, the navigator, General Shidei and Netaji, the four 'dead' victims of the crash, left for their destination. In the morning, it was given out locally that Netaji had died at night and a covered deadbody or an empty coffin was placed in a room in the hospital. Four days later, after the completion of further evidence, in support of the plane crash and the news of his safe arrival at his destination, the death of Netaji was announced in a broadcast." Another observation made by him is worth recording here, viz., 1. If he were alive at that time, why did the Japanese Government broadcast his death? The answer to the first question is that the Japanese Government wanted to curry favour with General MacArthur after the actual surrender. It would have been an act of extreme meanness and downright treachery on the part of the Japanese Government to have handed over Netaji, their erstwhile friend and collaborator to the Anglo-Americans and of this they were incapable, as a self-respecting and a cultured nation. The only other alternative therefore was to broadcast his death after he had left, and continue to support it with what manufactured and tutored evidence they could place before the Enquiry Commission. They could not very well say that Netaji had escaped from their territory to an unknown destination, as they would have been accused of aiding and abetting the flight of a man who, in the eyes of the Anglo-Americans, was a war criminal."

Mr. N. Kitazawa, witness No. 61, was the Deputy of the Japanese Ambas­sador in Burma at that time. He is a top-ranking Diplomat and a Member of the House of Representatives, Japan. He stated that when the British forces started evacuating from Rangoon on 23.4.45 and Netaji and his party also left Rangoon a day or two later. His Government decided to give protection to the Burmese Ministers and so, in accordance with their instructions, he accompa­nied 6 or 7 Burmese Ministers with their families from Rangoon for taking them to a safe place. Eventually, Dr. Ba Maw, the Prime Minister, was taken to Japan and given asylum there. His Government had also decided to give protection to the Heads of all the States, that had helped them in the prosecu­tion of the war, viz., Burma, the Provisional Government of Azad Hind, the Philippines, China, Manchukuo, Indonesia and Thailand. Accordingly, Mr. Hachiya, the Japanese Minister to Netaji's Government, informed Netaji, that if he wished to seek shelter in Japan, his Government would give him every facility to do so. Netaji accepted this proposal and moved away with that intention. On 16.8.45 or 17.8.45, he went to Saigon aerodrome and saw Netaji off from there. He reached Saigon on 5.8.45 and though he stayed at the official residence of the Japanese Ambassador there up to 23.8.45, he received no information, and, evidently, the same with his Ambassador also, that Netaji's plane had crashed and that Netaji had died at Taihoku on 18.8.45. This is exceedingly unusual and could not otherwise be explained, except, probably, by saying that the incident did not take place. On the other hand, he was informed at Saigon, that Netaji wanted to go to Soviet Russia via Manchukuo, but Netaji was persuaded by his Government to go to Japan instead.

Shri Aswini Kumar Gupta, witness No. 8, who was Joint Editor of the Hindusthan Standard, has stated that in May 1951, when he was on a special assignment in the North Eastern Frontier Agency, he visited Manipur and Naga Hills area, where he met the great Naga leader, Mr. Phizo, who is in the limelight at the present moment. Mr. Phizo told him that he was informed previous to 18.8.45, that a plane crash involving Netaji would be announced, but he was not to believe it. On another occasion in December, 1950 or in January, 1951, when he was travelling in the Mishmi Hills area, he saw Netaji's picture in the houses of the Mishmis and he was told by them that at a place called Rima, the Chinese Army had given them news about Netaji and they also knew that Netaji had visited the Naga Hills and other areas. Some Mishmi headmen also told him that when they declined the request of the Chinese Commanders to help them in making roads, they were told by the Chinese that one of the great Indian leaders was with them. The Chinese took some of them to an interior place, where they saw a person in military uniform, resembling Netaji's picture, sitting in a tent. The Chinese Commanders then told them that he was Netaji. On the third occasion when Shri Gupta was in Kalimpong in October, 1949, he met a Maharashtrian Scholar, probably holding a doctorate degree and who was doing research work there, who suddenly brought out a group photograph and showed it to him and asked him whether he knew anybody in that group. He told the Scholar that there was one in the group, who resembled Netaji very much, but he was in a closed-collar suit and not in military uniform. The scholar then told him that this was the reason why the photograph was shown to him. On asking him about Netaji's whereabouts, he kept silent. When Shri Gupta was shown the group photograph, facing Page 8 in the book, 'Netaji Mystery Revealed' by Shri S. M. Goswami, witness No. 16, he said there was one person in it, who resembled Netaji, but this was not the group photograph, which he was shown at Kalimpong. Shri Gupta is a respectable and educated gentleman and does not appear to be unusually interested in Netaji and so there is no reason why he would make statements that were not true.

The deposition of Shri S. N. Goswami may now be taken up. He was at one time a Special Officer in the Anti-Corruption Department of the Government of West Bengal and is now doing business. He has been making investigations regarding Netaji's whereabouts or otherwise both in India and abroad, during the last few years and has published a book, "Netaji Mystery Revealed". When in 1949, he went to Germany, he met Herr Heins von Have, who told him that Netaji was alive. This he has written in some details at Pages 11 & 12 of his book, named above. At Page 41 of the same book, he has stated about a news that was flashed by the Associated Press from New Delhi on 29.8.45, that an American correspondent told Shri Jawaharlal Nehru that Netaji was alive and ought to "be treated as a War Criminal, as his men caused murder to many Americans and he himself had forcibly extracted money from the poor in Malay and Burma." On the following page, he has reported a similar news issued by Reuter from London on 2.9.45 and by A.P. from Kandy (Ceylon) on 3.9.45. He has made a few other similar statements and given reference to newspaper reports, which, not being in my possession, I refrain from referring to them. At Page 1 of his book, he has made a reference to an extract from a report by the Manchester Guardian, which is to the effect that "Though Subhas Bose was reported to have been killed in an aircraft in Formosa at the end of the war, his body was not found and a legend grew up that he was in hiding..." Further on, he stated that he had with him a booklet "Trade Union Delegation in China", at Page 4 of which was a group picture of a Mongolian Delegation, said to have visited Peking in 1952, with a person third from the left, having a striking resemblance to Netaji. I regret I am not in possession of this booklet or the enlargement of this picture either, which he stated he had filed before the Committee. Col. H. L. Chopra has supported Shri Goswami, by saying that a person in that group photograph resembled Netaji.

Shri S. A Iyer in his book, "Unto Him A Witness" has made a few interesting observations which are as follows: Page 69, "But where was Netaji going? We did not ask him and he did not tell us. But we knew and he knew that we knew. The plane was bound for Manchuria." Page 71, "shall I ever see him again? If so, when and where?...There were so many bombers and transport planes in that very aerodrome. Legal or illegal, it should be possible for a Japanese pilot to turn the propellers, start the engine and take off with us aboard the plane and fly us to wherever Netaji may be." Page 72, "At 5.15 P.M. 17th August, the plane took off from Saigon aerodrome carrying Netaji. God knows where!" Pages 75 & 76, "Each one of us knew very well how all the five of us were impatient to reach Netaji...Then Abid cut short the talk in his characteristic way, Look here Ayer Saheb, Netaji will not rest for a moment wherever he may be...So you ought to go and there is no need to argue about it. If he is already in Moscowor on his way, you must reach him as early as possible. There will be plenty to do. So, we stand down in your favour, and we want you to go." Pages 84 & 85, "No. No. Oh, no. Netaji can't be dead. It is impossible. Netaji is immortal. How can he die before he sees India completely free. No. No. He is not dead. He is very much alive somewhere. I don't believe what this man says. This story is a fake."...."Look Colonel, I want to be frank with you. Not a single Indian in India or East Asia will believe this story unless you produce conclusive proofs...You must take me at once to Taihoku. I must see Netaji's body with my own eyes...Whatever happens, I must be taken to Taihoku". The Colonel replied, "I shall do my best.

We have already told Taihoku to take photos and collect all positive evidence of the accident". "I must be taken Taihoku", I mumbled again. "At last we landed...It was nearly 10.00 P.M. I took it for granted that it was Taihoku..." Page 86, "I felt like wanting to fly at the Colonel's throat when Aoki replied: No, we are in Taichu, not Taihoku". "Why, I barked." From these words, it is apparent that Shri Iyer had a reasonable doubt that Netaji's death, as announced, was concocted.

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