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)

No enquiry held, states Japanese Foreign Office

In this connection, the statements of Gen. H. Isayama, witness No. 57, are rather important, as he was Chief of the General Staff, Formosan Army with Headquarters at Taihoku and, as such, he would be expected to know everything about the alleged plane crash and all other subsequent incidents. In addition to this, Gen. Shidei was his classmate and he was informed that Gen. Shidei, on arriving at Taihoku aerodrome, had enquired about him. He has started his narration with a statement rather suspicious, viz., that he heard about the plane crash and everything else, including Netaji's death, when he went to his office the next morning, from a Staff Officer and that there was no official enquiry about it, even up to the time of his leaving Formosa in April, 1946. It is not understood why the General stated later on, that the report resulting from an enquiry regarding this accident was submitted by Staff Officer Lt. Col. Shibuya through him to the Imperial General Headquarters, Tokyo, which is, however/definitely denied by that Officer. It is exceedingly strange that both this Staff Officer as well as the Chief of Staff, Gen. Isayama, heard about the plane crash and the death of such a big person as Netaji and also the death of Gen. Shidei on the following day, though Major Nagatomo has stated that he regularly informed the Headquarters there regarding every detailed incident, viz., the plane crash, Netaji's injuries etc, very frequently. This would go also to create a reasonable suspicion that the plane crash and Netaji's death, as alleged, did not take place. A report was also received by the Committee from the Japanese Foreign Office that no enquiry was made regarding this incident, which is rather unusual. The same Office also sent us a copy of the service book of Gen. Shidei, in which the date and cause of death are recorded as "18.8.45" and "Death by War" respectively. This is far from being correct, as the War had ended and Japan had officially surrendered on 15.8.45. Accepting the plane crash to be a concocted and a faked story, the entries in his Service Book should in the usual course show death and nothing else. No evidence has been adduced regarding the death of the Radio Operator, N.C.O. Tominaga or the Navigator, Sergeant Okshita and the other 1 or 2 persons, probably Engineers, forming part of the crew and who are alleged to have died. The Service Book entries, regarding Major Takizawa, Chief Pilot and N.C.O. Aoyagi, Co-pilot and the other members of the crew, alleged to have died, have not been produced either. The evidence regarding the death of both these Pilots is also very insufficient and shaky and that, regarding their remains, is even worse. Capt. Nakamura stated that he buried the entrails of these 3 persons, viz., Gen. Shidei and the two Pilots, which is new uncorroborated story, whereas, another witness, Capt. Arai, even went to the extent of saying that Gen. Shidei was definitely brought to the Hospital, where he expired. The evidence of the doctors, however, is that N.C.O. Aoyagi was also treated in the Hospital, where he died later on and not inside the plane, as stated by some witnesses.

British military intelligence disbelieve Col Rahman

From the Top Secret reports of the British and American Intelligence Officers, as a result of thorough investigation made soon after the alleged incident, it appears that they failed to obtain conclusive proof that Netaji died as a result of a plane crash. To quote only a few extracts, it states at Page 3, "Habib-ur-Rahman's report is unsatisfactory. The multitude of discrepancies in accounts of the actual air crash as given first to CIC in Tokyo and later to CSDIC, is being taken up", and at Page 17, "The Indian (Col. Rahman) who supposedly was with Mr. Bose on the same plane has been seen with his hands and face bruised. But this again is no conclusive proof. He might have been involved in some other accident". It is, therefore, clear that even these officers failed to accept Col. Rahman's version, as to the manner in which he received those burns and injuries. This is with regard to Col. Rahman only, but with regard to the alleged incident, one military officer, W. Mckwright, in his No. C. 5, Intelligence Bureau (Headquarters), New Delhi 3, dated the 19th February, 1946, while reviewing the whole story, wrote to Major C. Young, Intelligence Division, C.I.C.B.H.G., SACSEA, Singapore at Page 32, "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", and at page 36, he has concluded, "You will understand our pressing anxiety to get to the truth of whether Bose is actually and permanently dead. Government want to know where they stand over the matter, in view of claims by Gandhi and others in India that he is still alive. Our examination so far only permits us to say that, unless there was a very cleverly contrived and executed deception plot, involving a very few of the highest Japanese officials, Bose is almost certainly dead." It will, therefore, be agreed on all hands that these reports, based on thorough investigation, are sufficient by themselves to falsify the definite findings of my colleagues that Netaji died as the result of a plane crash.

Mr. K. Satoh, who was a bomber mechanic attached to 136 Air Unit at Taihoku at that time, has stated that there was a minor plane accident there, and the only 2 inmates of the plane, one resembling Netaji and the other a Japanese, came out of the plane unscathed and started talking to each other. Incidentally, this witness stated Netaji was wearing a big round wrist watch, which gives the lie direct to Col. Rahman's version of a rectangular wrist watch.

Netaji's wrist watch

The wrist watch used by Netaji has been mentioned in brief earlier under the heading "Itinerary". Col. Rahman produced a rectangular wrist watch, with a leather strap, with the edges slightly burnt, and which eventually came into the possession of late Sarat Chandra Bose, who got it from Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, who in turn got it from late Bhullabhai Desai. The Colonel said that he got this watch from Dr. Yoshimi, witness No. 48, under whose treatment at the Military Hospital at Taihoku, Netaji was said to have expired. The Doctor has denied all knowledge of this statement made by the Colonel, which, therefore, remained uncorroborated, though it should have been supported by the doctor. Shri Dwijendra Nath Bose, who produced before the Committee a photograph of this rectangular watch, (App. c) challenged the Colonel regarding this statement of his, when they met at the birthday anniversary celebration of Netaji at the Belgachia Villa in Calcutta on the 23rd January, 1947, but the Colonel failed to give any reply to him. No other witness has stated that Netaji ever used this rectangular wrist watch, nor has any photograph of Netaji been filed, showing Netaji wearing that rectangular wrist watch. It is highly improbable that this watch would escape any damage, though the plane is alleged to have crashed in such a manner that 2 or 3 inmates of the plane died instantaneously and Netaji, who is alleged to have worn the watch, died about 6 hours later. The time shown in the watch is about 8 minutes past 1, which can in no way be explained, as the plane is alleged to have crashed at 2.38 P.M.

On the other hand, Shri S. M. Goswami has stated that Netaji never wore that watch, but always wore a round wrist watch, which was presented to him by his father. Col. H. L. Chopra, who was in the I.N.A., has stated that Netaji always wore the same round wrist watch and he never wore any other wrist watch. Shri Dwijendra Nath Bose, one of Netaji's nephews, and who stated to have worked with his uncle, regarding the latter's political activities and who also helped him to move out secretly from Calcutta in January, 1941, also stated that, when Netaji left Calcutta, the only article taken by him, out of all those, which he was using in Calcutta, including clothing, spectacles etc., was this round wrist watch, which he insisted on taking with him, as he said, it was of great sentimental value to him, being a present from his revered mother. Shri Arabindu Bose, another of Netaji's nephews and who, also along with Shri Dwijendra Nath Bose, helped Netaji in getting away secretly from Calcutta/has fully and in details supported the statements made by his cousin. He has filed a photograph (App. d), showing Netaji wearing his "famous round wrist watch" during his sojourn in the Far East. He has gone further and stated that, as Netaji could not spare this round wrist watch of his and also his pair of spectacles, reading glasses, cigarette case, cigarette lighter, Hindu religious books and other small articles, which he usually carried on his person, and as there was no possibility of getting substitutes for any of them, it was impossible for Col. Rahman to bring back any of these personal effects of Netaji, as proof of his alleged death. Instead of any of these articles, the Colonel brought a rectangular wrist watch (App. c), which was one of the many such watches, which were presented to Netaji by Dr. Jose Laurel, the then President of the Philippines and which, Netaji presented to the Colonel and also to the Chairman of this Committee, when he was in the I. N. A. and to others. Shri Kundan Singh, witness No. 65, who was Netaji's personal valet from the date of his first arrival at Singapore from Tokyo on 2.7.43 till the date of his final departure from Bangkok on 17.8.45, has stated that the round wrist watch (App. d) was the only wrist watch, Netaji ever wore during this period. Netaji, however, had a round pocket watch, which he generally placed under his pillow and which he carried in his attaché case. I am, therefore, fully convinced, from the evidence that has been adduced, that Netaji never wore the rectangular wrist watch (App. c), which Col. Rahman produced, saying that it was worn by Netaji at the time of his alleged death and so the Colonel's attempt has ended in a miserable failure. This is another conclusion, which has helped to falsify Netaji's alleged death.

I shall, therefore, conclude, that on a careful consideration of all the evidence that has been placed before us and from ail the other papers, photographs, sketches, etc. that I have been able to secure, and after mature deliberation and careful thought, 1 am firmly of opinion that the Aircraft Accident Did Not Take Place And That Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Did Not Die, As Alleged.

Myself, a deserter?

There are 1 or 2 other points, which should be incorporated in this report, otherwise, it may be construed to be a serious omission. Firstly, it is exceedingly strange that there does not appear to be any mention in the report-submitted by my colleagues to the Government that a separate dissentient report is expected to be submitted by me, though they were fully aware of that fact. Being an ex-military man, the Chairman considered me to be a sort of a deserter, whose- duty and responsibility had ceased, when I parted company with him in the course of our Committee sitting on. 16.7.56 at New Delhi. On 14.7.56, when I disagreed with the findings of my colleagues, I requested him to let me know what my next move should be and he replied that 1 would have to write a separate dissenting note, to which, I immediately said that it would be uphill task for me, as I would have to do it all by myself. Subsequent to that, the Chairman, the Prime Minister, the Joint Secretary, Ministry of External] Affairs, the Chief Minister of West Bengal and others knew about this and the latest communication in this connection is the Joint Secretary's No. 6630 JS (E) marked "Express Delivery" dated 7.9,56, requesting me to send my Note by 10.9.56, though unfortunately the postal seal shows that it was posted at Karol Bagh, Delhi on 10.9.56, and was received by me on the afternoon of the following day, viz., on 11.9.56.

My personal note

The next point is regarding a note made by me for my personal use on 30.6.56, in which I recorded the suggestions made by all three of us for the preparation of my draft report. Some of the highest officials of the land, having failed in all other ways to persuade me to sign the report of my colleagues and thereby make it a unanimous one, fell back on this note of mine as a trump card and tried their best to compel me to sign my colleagues' report, alleging that, I has signed that note, which contained a statement, that said, that after examining the witnesses, I was convinced that Netaji was dead. The matter was pursued further and the help of the Press was also taken by them and it was duly published in the newspapers on 9.8.56, that, "No Note of Dissent. Two members of the Committee have already signed the report. The third member, it is understood, may not sign for special reasons. The Committee, however, has in its possession a statement signed by him saying that after examining the witnesses, he was convinced that Netaji was dead. He has not appended any note of dissent or submitted a separate report (U.P.I)." In addition to newspaper reports, the matter came up before the Parliament on questions put by Shri N. C. Chatterji, Shri H. V. Kamath and probably by others on 12.9.56, to which the Prime Minister gave a reply, which, in the opinion of these members, was that the answer was not satisfactory and the issue was evaded. However, the matter did not stop there either. The Chief Minister of West Bengal requested me to meet him in his office on 15.8.56, which I did. In the course of a lengthy and at times, a heated conversation, he dealt with this point alone for at least 20 minutes and in different ways, tried his best to compel me to sign my colleagues' report on the main ground, that on 30.6.56, I had signed a statement that was said by them to have contained the finding that Netaji was dead, as noted above. This note of mine has been printed at Pages 70 and 71 of the Report of my colleagues and as it contained the suggestions of all three of all us, some of those suggestions may have been of the nature of findings, but they were definitely not "points agreed to". In my opinion, the trump card failed, because the house of cards collapsed, as will be borne out from Item No. 7, viz., "Shri Thevar's Statements and Statements of Shri Goswami — their statements should be discussed while dealing with Netaji's death or otherwise and a little more in details separately later on." The words, "Netaji's death or otherwise" clearly show that there was no definite finding or opinion expressed in this note that Netaji was dead. On the other hand, it shows that the question of Netaji's death in this note remained undecided. This is further supported from the fact that Shri Thevar and Shri Goswami were definitely of opinion that Netaji was not dead, but was alive and that opinion of theirs was conveyed in their statements and which the Chairman had several times openly declared that he was aware of. I have, therefore, failed to understand, how this note could be said to have contained a definite finding that Netaji was dead. Item No. 5 would, in my opinion, also show that there was no definite finding about the "Ashes" either. It is also my opinion, that this is not simply a mis-statement of facts, but a false statement, deliberately made, and to give colour and support to it, the heading, "Principal Points Agreed To For Draft Report, Dated 30.6.56" was intentionally concocted. There is no heading in the original note of mine, it only bears the date 30.6.56. Curiosity will be further aroused as to why the dates by the side of the signatures as printed, are 2.7.56 and not 30.6.56. I would, therefore, unhesitatingly state that it was rank dishonesty and meanness to coin and concoct a headline with the intention of proving a false charge against me, which by the Almighty's Blessings, has ended in a dismal failure.

Appeal to my countrymen

I would, with all humility, appeal to my esteemed countrymen not to accept the reports submitted by my learned colleagues or by my humble self, but to make a demand to our Government to place at their disposal, the whole of the evidence that was made available to the Committee and I would earnestly request them to form their own opinion after a careful perusal and consider­ation of the same, and, if the general opinion be that the aircraft accident did not take place and that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose did not die, as alleged, to demand an impeachment of all those, who have taken part in this nefarious game.

I consider myself extremely unfortunate in having been the victim of such machinations on the part of some of the highest officials of our Government, apparently, because I did not fall in with their opinion that, Netaji was dead and because my considered opinion was that the evidence placed before us justified the only conclusion that Netaji did not die in view of the circumstances alleged. He is His Grace has given me the requisite strength and courage to do what I have been able to do in the service of my esteemed countrymen in my own humble way, keeping aloft the banner of Truth and Justice.

SATYAMEBA JAYATE!! JAI HIND !!

Suresh Chandra Bose
Calcutta,
Mahalaya,                                                     Non-Official Member,
3rd October, 1956                                         Netaji Enquiry Committee

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