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)

Appendix D

NETAJI DIED IN A FORMOSA HOSPITAL DURING LAST WAR, ENQUIRY FINDINGS. REPORT TO BE SUBMITTED TOMORROW.
New Delhi, August, 8

The Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Enquiry Committee, appointed by the Government of India, has come to the conclusion that Netaji Bose's death is established and that it occurred in Formosa during the Second World War, it is authoritatively learnt. The Committee's Chairman Mr. Shah Nawaj Khan, who was a high-ranking officer in Netaji's Indian National Army and now Parliamentary Secretary to the Railway Minister, is expected to submit the report to the Prime Minister on Friday.

The Committee took evidence from some 70 witnesses in Japan, Thailand, India and other places, and 66 of them told the Committee they had no doubt about the death . The four witnesses who thought Netaji was alive were Mr. Thevar, Madras M.L.A., Mr. Goswami, who produced the photo of a Mongolian Trade Union Leader resembling Subhas Bose, and two members of the Bose family.

DOCTOR EXAMINED
The Japanese doctor, who treated Bose after the air accident near Taipeh, it is understood, certified that Bose died in the air accident. The Committee examined the records of the Military Hospital where he was treated, the funeral records, obtained the evidence of the nursing orderly and others who were with Bose at the time of his death. Of the seven passengers of the ill-fated plane in which Bose travelled, the Committee examined 6 and all of them were of the same opinion. It is understood that the British Consul in Formosa, who was requested by the Government of India to record the evidence of the Chinese nurse, who attended on Netaji, could not trace the nurse.

Heads of the then British Intelligence Service in Tokyo and of the American Intelligence Service in the Far East were examined by the Committee. Others, who appeared before the Committee included Mr. Himangshu Kumar Roy and Mr. Kalipada De, two senior members of the Indian Intelligence Service, who were engaged in a search for Netaji in South East Asia and the Far East under instruction from the then British Government of India to bring Subhas Bose dead or alive, were also examined by the Committee.

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 he was convinced that Netaji was dead. He has not appended.any note of dissent or submitted a separate report.

AMRITA BAZAR PATRIKA
CALCUTTA.
Thursday, dated 9-8-56.

Appendix E

Suresh C. Bose                                             2, Moira Street, Calcutta - 16
10th August, 1956

The Chairman, Netaji Enquiry Committee,
1, Canning Lane, New Delhi.

Dear Sir,

With reference to your announcement in the Amrita Bazar Patrika, Calcutta, of yesterday's date, under the heading, "Netaji died in a Formosa Hospital during last war — Enquiry Findings: Report to be submitted tomorrow," I have to inform you that I have been shocked at this for two main reasons, firstly, that the findings of the Enquiry Committee should not have been given publicity through the Press before submission of the same to the Government and, secondly, that you had stated to different persons at different places, both in India and abroad, on innumerable occasions, that this Enquiry was being made in a secret manner and its report would be submitted confidentially to the Ministry of External Affairs, for submission of the same to the Prime Minister, who would then place it before the Parliament, when for the first time it would gain publicity.

I would refer you to the sittings of the Committee, in which, apart from the three members and the stenographer, only the witness and whenever necessary, the interpreter were the only persons present and it was invariably held under closed doors. You will also please remember that when Mr. Hattori of the Japanese Foreign Office made the request in Tokyo to be present during the examination of the Japanese witnesses, he was so kindly arranging to produce before us, I was the first to express my regret for our inability to do so, as we had not allowed such a procedure before. So our sittings were carried out more or less in a secret manner.

In a reference made by me to the Prime Minister on 2nd April, 1956, viz., "As regards the manner in which this enquiry would be made, I asked Shri Shah Nawaz Khan yesterday, as to whether the Enquiry would be open to the public or to the press or to both or whether it would be held in camera. He replied that all Government of India enquiries are done secretly and only reports are made public". Both of us were with the Prime Minister, when this and other points were clarified by him, and he was further pleased to reply on this point on 14th April 1956, as follows : "It is desirable that members of the Committee should not give any interviews or make any statements to the Press. They should avoid even informal talks on this subject with others who might give the information to the Press". So the Prime Minister was pleased to go even further and to caution us to such an extent as to see that our deliberations did not reach the Press either direct or even through any other source.

I am aggrieved to state that in this respect, you have intentionally and deliberately disobeyed the clear instructions given to you by the Prime Minister, by having made the above mentioned announcement in the Press.

It is a mystery to me as to why in this announcement, you did not remain content only with your findings, but went to the extent of justifying the same by introducing details, some of which, however, to my knowledge, appear to be incorrect, but, if correct, have been intentionally withheld from me, e.g. examination of Military Hospital records and those regarding the funeral.

As regards the contents of your announcement under the heading "No Note of Dissent", which I emphatically state you know to be false, I have to state that you have not only withheld facts, but have also distorted the same with the expectation that you will be exonerated from all blame. I can assure you that people are not hoodwinked so easily. "No Note of Dissent" is not a usual thing that would be expected, especially when only two out of three members have signed and submitted a report, and so the first question that would strike my countrymen is that there must have been unusual circumstances to bring about this unusual result.

As regards the statement, alleged to have been signed by me, the less said the better, as a reply would necessitate the inclusion of certain allegations against you, which I would prefer to avoid at this stage.

In reply to your telegram of the 29th July last, which reads as follows: "From Shahnawaz Khan Chairman Netaji Enquiry Committee your telegram of the twenty-fourth stop as decided all reports were to be written and finalised in Delhi stop you were not authorised to go anywhere else to write any report stop no question of sending papers to you arise unless you return to Delhi stop as you are aware Committee's life extends to thirty-first July and report or reports must be submitted to Government by then stop unless you send whatever report you wish to reach me by the thirteen July will assume you have no submission to make," I have to state that the contents of the same are either incorrect, unauthorised, unreasonable or improper and the tone ungentlemanly.

As no decision that reports were to be written and finalised in Delhi was taken with my knowledge or with my consent, written or verbal, this statement is anything but correct.

The question of not authorising me to go anywhere for writing any report, as stated by you, did not arise and there was no occasion for it, but I informed the Deputy Secretary, External Affairs, with whom you had put me in contact, that I was returning the Calcutta for reasons known to him.

I may state for your information that even in important suits pending before District as well as High Courts, in which correct judicial procedure is strictly followed, judgments have been sent from elsewhere and even from outside India.

As regards your statement, that "no question of sending papers to you arise unless you return to Delhi," I am constrained to state that it befits a bully and not a sensible person, having the least respect for reasonable constitutional procedure. I may remind you here that on 16-7-56 during our sittings at New Delhi, I requested both Shri Maitra and you to send me the remaining portion of your joint draft report, as I was entitled to be in possession of the whole of it and on the basis of which, I would have to write my dissentient report and which Shri Maitra promised to send me in sections, as soon as he completed the same. This was, however, not carried out, evidently, due to your interference. I had to speak to him about this, as presumably, due to your incompetence in writing it, he had to do so on your behalf.

As regards your statement, viz., "as you are aware Committee's life extends to thirty-first July and report or reports must be submitted to Government by then," I regret very much to state that it is a shameless statement. On your considered estimate of five weeks, which has terminated on the 30th April, 1956, Government's approval was obtained and the Finance Department sanctioned an expenditure of about Rs. 27,500/- for the Committee. This period elapsed when we were still in Calcutta and had not proceeded abroad. On the eve of our departure from Tokyo to India, you expressed the view that the report must be submitted by the 15th June, which you subsequently extended to the 30th idem and finally to the 16th July positively, as the Prime Minister would be returning to India and the Parliament coming into session soon. Unable to do so by that date, you put it off to the end- of that week or latest on the following Monday, the 23rd July. I was not informed of any further extension of date by you, as I parted company with you. In your telegram dated 29.7.56, you informed me for the first time that the life had been extended to 31.7.56. This life appears to draw out more easily than most elastic article one can think of. In yesterday's paper, I found that it has been drawn out 10.8.56, which I do wish will be the final limit of your elastic estimate of life.

Then, in your telegram issued from Delhi on 29.7.56 to me in Calcutta, you have said, "unless you send whatever report you wish to reach me by the thirteen July will assume you have no submission to make". The tone and demand here again befit more a bully than a gentleman.

Accepting thirteen July to be correct, 13.7.57 appears to be quite a reasonable date that fits in with your elastic estimate, as in spite of my verbal request to you in Delhi on 16.7.56 and my telegrams dated 18, 7 & 21.7.56 from Calcutta to send me the necessary papers, you have intentionally refrained from doing so and have no intention of doing so easily. If, however, thirteen be a telegraphic department mistake for thirtieth, meaning 30.7.56, which you surely could not have meant, as it is an impossibility/then the only epithet, that comes up uppermost in my mind for this unreasonable demand of yours, is one which I refrain from.

You have introduced the names of British and American Intelligence Services in this brief announcement of yours, but you have intentionally omitted to record what their finding was, because it did not support your view. The evidence on record shows that from the time of the announcement of the Japanese that Netaji died in a plane crash, they believed it to be a hoax, that it was a cleverly-conceived master deception plan on the part of the Japanese and others and that Netaji was living and hiding somewhere. They immediately despatched different teams of officers to arrest Netaji under the provisions of the Enemy Agents' Ordinance. After scouring the territories concerned in a frantic search for him, they were unable to trace his whereabouts, but in spite of that, they could not come to the definite conclusion that Netaji was dead. This was the final opinion held by them and probably the main object of this enquiry.

As I regret not to have received any papers from you, as requested several times by me, I would again reiterate here my legitimate demand for the same and to observe that you have no right whatsoever to withhold such papers from me and that such conduct of yours is quite in keeping with what you have generally meted out to me during the course of this enquiry and that our Government and my countrymen will surely consider your conduct in its proper perspective. Please note that delay in the submission of my dissentient report due to your inaction is solely your responsibility and that you will have to render explanation to Government and to the people for the same, not speak of the opinion they will form regarding you.

I would request you to arrange and send me bank cheques in my favour in payment of the two bills submitted by me sometime ago and about which, you have personal knowledge.

I remain,
Yours truly,
Suresh C. Bose

Pages