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 plan why proved?

The passengers in the plane, as it took-off from Saigon were:
(1) Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, (2) Lt. General T. Shidei, (3) Col. Habibur Rahman, (4) Lt. Col. T. Sakai, (5) Lt. Col. S. Nonogaki, (6) Major T. Kono, (7) Major I. Takahashi, (8) Major Takizawa, (9) Capt. K. Arai, (10) N. C. O. Ayoagi, (11) Mr. Tominaga, Radio operator, (12) Sergeant Okshita and (13) An Engineer, (name not known).

Enquiries by foreigners

Another very interesting aspect from quite a different angle is as follows: Soon after the surrender by the Japanese and naturally the I. N. A. also, the British rulers in India sent two teams of British and Indian Officers to Netaji's scene of activities to arrest him. Shri H. K. Rai and Shri K. P. De, witnesses Nos. 14 and 15 respectively, who were in those two teams and Shri S. Mazumdar, witness No. 11, who held a high post in the Intelligence Branch at that time, and all three of whom are still holding high posts in the Police Department, confirm this fact. These teams were unsuccessful in their attempts to arrest Netaji, though they were very intelligently given different areas for simultaneous activities to find out Netaji for the purpose of arresting him. Thereafter, different British and American Intelligence parties under the commands of Lord Mountbatten, General MacArthur and others scoured that area in a vain search for Netaji and the main reason for such furious activities was that from the time of the announcement of Netaji's death by the Japanese, they believed it to be a hoax and were under the impression that Netaji was living and was hiding somewhere. The final result of their enquiries was indefinite and it was their opinion that this was probably a cleverly-conceived master deception plan on the part of the Japanese and Netaji. In short, they failed to be convinced that Netaji was dead, as had been announced by the Japanese. In my opinion, much reliance and weight should be placed on the result of these enquiries, held under different auspices with different personnel and in all the areas covered by Rangoon, Bangkok, Saigon and Taihoku, soon after Netaji's departure from that area and because of their keen and earnest efforts to find him out for purposes of arresting and taking action against him under the provisions of the Enemy Agents' Ordinance and also because he had been declared an International War Criminal.

The manner in which our enquiry was made, viz., "mainly to collect direct evidence on Shri Bose's death", as stated by the Chairman, would, in my opinion, be considered to be perfunctory, when compared with those enquiries mentioned above and our finding should consequently be regarded to possess a similar value.

Volunteer witnesses

In addition to this, the Chairman made it a point to confine his witnesses to those who, he expected, would support his view, but for the satisfaction of the public, he made an announcement in the papers both here as well as in Tokyo, inviting persons to appear before him and to depose, if they knew anything about the subject matter of this enquiry. In response to this, I believe, a fair number of applications was received, but in view of his biased attitude and of the result of the examination of only three of them, which unfortunately proved unfavourable to him, he did not dare examine any more of them and also kept me in the dark regarding most of those applications.

Out of these applicants, the Chairman told me that he desired to examine one Mr. K. Satoh, witness No. 40, who, being a bomber mechanic attached to 136 Air Unit at Taihoku Aerodrome at that time, was expected to be an important witness about the plane crash there, Netaji's injuries, etc. He, however, gave a different version of another minor plane accident, which took place at 7 A.M. and not at about 2.30 P. M. and that only two passengers were in that plane. The first passenger opened the door and jumped out. He was a non-Japanese and resembled Netaji. The other was pulled out of the plane and was a Japanese. He was told by a senior Military Officer there that, that plane was carrying "Mr. Chandra Bose" and when he saw the first person come out, he thought him to be "Mr. Chandra Bose". His version of the crash and other details is different from that of the other Japanese witnesses, who were said to have been passengers in another plane, that is alleged to have crashed. Mr. Satoh continued that neither of these passengers was injured or burnt in any way and they started talking to each other. The time of this accident has been corroborated more or less by Shri H. K. Rai, witness No. 14, which was rather unexpected. The deposition of Mr. K. Satoh was, unfortunately, a set-back for the Chairman. The second such witness to be examined was Shri S. N. Sen, witness No. 49, who appeared before us and insisted on being examined. He has been in Japan for the last twenty years and was connected with the Indian Independence League in the Far East and knew Netaji there. He deposed that Netaji was not in that plane. Then, evidently, with the expectation of making up for lost ground, the Chairman told me that he wanted to examine another person, viz., Mr. M. Miyoshi, witness No. 59, who, being a medical orderly in the same hospital at Taihoku at that time, would be in a position to state about Netaji's injuries, treatment and subsequent death there and probably also about his cremation, but it was a great disappointment, as he only said that he was asked to lift a coffin from a room in the Hospital and to place it on a truck, that was waiting there, which he did with the help of three others. He had no idea as to whose body was in that coffin. Though, admittedly, a nursing orderly in that hospital and on active duty there, it is exceedingly strange that he had no knowledge whatsoever that such a renowned person like "Mr. Chandra Bose", and a non-Japanese and whose introduction is stated to have been given to and known by the hospital staff, had been treated in that hospital, had died in that hospital and whose body had been kept in that hospital for two or there days, as stated by some of the officially produced Japanese witnesses.

The case of Mr. K. Satoh, witness No. 40, is a similar one. He was admittedly in the Japanese Military Air Force Staff at Taihoku Aerodrome at that time and it is exceedingly strange as to why his version is totally different from that of the other Japanese witnesses, who were produced before us by the Japanese, Foreign Office. Neither of these three witnesses had been examined by anybody else, before they appeared before us and so, obviously, they were not bound down by any statements previously made by them. The depositions of these persons are significant and in my opinion carry much weight. If my colleagues have discussed their depositions, I am almost certain that they have done so in a superficial manner, because it is quite apparent that a proper and correct consideration of the same would go much against their findings. In any case, they must have failed to explain why these witnesses have made such statements, which are contradictory to those made by the witnesses produced by the Japanese Government. There is, moreover, no suggestion anywhere that they have been sponsored by any party or by any individual to depose in such fashion or they had any ulterior motive in doing so. They read the notice published in the papers at the instance of the Committee, as stated above, and as they found that they were in a position to say something about the subject-matter of this enquiry, they came forward and volunteered themselves before the Committee in good faith to depose whatever they knew about it. The Chairman, as a result of this unfavourable experience, evidently, received an unexpected shock and so fought shy of the other persons, who had so volunteered and did not risk examining any more of them, though they were about twenty in number.

Out of such applicants, one, Mr. Bondai Mori, a Japanese mine-owner, requested the Chairman for being examined, but as he was not asked to do so, he published the fact of his disappointment in the Calcutta newspapers on 13-5-56.

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