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)

Obstruction and pressure

On reaching the latter place on the morning of the 18th instant, I sent a telegram to the Chairman, which reads as follows: "Unavoidable circumstances compelled immediate departure from Delhi please send immediately remaining portion draft report, five interrogations requisitioned by me and all connected papers." On the 21st idem, I received his telegraphic reply, viz., "Your telegram eighteenth stop surprised you left Delhi without informing me stop submission on report to Government overdue stop please intimate immediately when you will return Delhi to enable finalise report and submit to Government." I immediately sent my reply, viz., "Your telegram informed you both fourteenth my disagreement with your finding Netaji died plane crash whereupon you both decided submitting joint report and undertook sending me remaining portion your draft report after perusing which I should start writing dissentient report stop reiterate legitimate demands conveyed my telegram eighteenth please note non-compliance whereof holds you not me responsible for delay submission my report to you." There was no news from the Chairman for the next seven or eight days. In the meantime and since the date of my arrival in Calcutta, I had started writing my report from the scanty materials with me, viz., copies of depositions of all the witnesses, excluding two, and tracings of some sketches filed by some of the witnesses. On 29-7-56 at 7-5 P.M., I received the following telegram from the Chairman: "Your telegram of twenty-fourth stop as decided all reports were to be written and finalised in Delhi stop you were not authorised to go anywhere else for writing any report stop no question of sending papers to you arise unless you return Delhi stop as you are aware Committees 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 thirteen July will assume you have no submission to make."

I may state here that twenty-fourth is a mistake for twenty-first. I was astonished to peruse the contents of this telegram and with the tone in which it was written. I at once suspected that some inspiration from higher circles was behind it. The demand made in it was doubly impossible, firstly, to complete a report without being in possession of relevant papers and, secondly, to send a report so as to reach him within a few hours. Anyway, I continued writing my report, in spite of such handicaps. The progress was naturally slow, though the effort was more taxing. I was at a loss to make out the reason for such sort of behaviour on the part of the Chairman of a Committee to one of its members and to deprive him of papers and facilities, which he is legitimately entitled to. The only explanation I could think of was, that, as I had disagreed with them and had prevented them from submitting a unanimous report, such obstruction were purposely put in my way and such impossible demands made, so that I would be unable to submit a dissenting report and they would then state before the people that I neglected in submitting my report and that their report was the only report of the Committee. I leave it to my countrymen, for whose knowledge and consideration, this enquiry was held, to judge this matter.

On 9-8-56, a sensational piece of news (App. D) appeared in the papers with big and bold headlines, viz., "NETAJI DIED IN A FORMOSA HOSPITAL DURING LAST WAR — ENQUIRY FINDINGS: REPORT TO BE SUBMITTED TOMORROW." As this contained a few incorrect and distorted news and as there were some allegations against me and as the Chairman's name was mentioned therein, I wrote a reply, (App. E) to the Chairman regarding that newspaper report and forwarded copies of the same to the Prime Minister of India and to the Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi. The Prime Minister was pleased to send me a reply on 13-8-56, (App. F), which I received on the following day. I sent my reply, (App. G) to him on the 15th August, 1956 and on which date in the morning, the Chief Minister of West Bengal was pleased to phone me and to request me to meet him in his office at 4 P.M. the same day, which I did. He started by coaxing me in several ways to make me agree with the findings of my colleagues and to sign their report, so as to make it a unanimous one. I regretted my inability to do so and gave him a few reasons for the same. Having failed in his intention, he then enquired of me as to why I was not submitting my report. I explained to him that it was not possible for me to do so, as the Chairman was not sending me the papers necessary for writing the report and to which I was legitimately entitled and which they promised to send me. He then asked me that if he helped me in getting those papers, how many days it would take me to complete my report. I told him that I had already written some portion and that I expected to do so within another ten days from the date of receipt of those papers. He appeared to be rather satisfied with this reply of mine and was pleased to dictate a reply to the Prime Minister's letter, he had received in this connection, and in which, he requested the latter to arrange to send me those papers soon, so that I would be in a position to submit my report by 30-8-56. In the meantime, our Chief Minister and also another Minister took the trouble of influencing and persuading me to agree to sign the report of my colleagues through a few of my nearest relations.

I cannot but repeat that for want of the requisite papers, it has been exceedingly difficult for me to make headway with my report and its completion will naturally take much more time than what it would ordinarily have taken. I am still at a loss to make out what could really be the cause for such attitude on the part of the Chairman and how could the Government face the public with a report signed by only two members of the Committee, when there was a third member on it, and on a matter, which would be considered to have more than an All-India interest, and in which there exists great inquisitiveness.

As certain reports were published in the papers relating to this enquiry and some conflicting reports regarding me, I considered it necessary to send a statement (App. H) to the Press on 17th July, 1956.

Netaji's earlier activities

Before I take up for consideration the evidence on record, I consider it necessary to give an introduction to my countrymen of the hero of this drama, to facilitate a better and easier understanding of his outlook, ideas, capabilities and work.

His religious tendency and service to the poor and down-trodden were apparent, when he was about twelve years of age. They had a small Ashram for this purpose and held schools for "harijan" boys. They helped the poor and needy and nursed and gave medical aid to the sick and diseased. He had the opportunity of living in the same house at Puri, Orissa, with Swami Brahmananda, President, Ramkrishna Mission and his brother Swamijis on a few occasions and in some respects Swami Vivekananda was his ideal. He started Durgah Pujah in a mess, in which some of his schoolmates lived at Cuttack, Orissa, and he was instrumental in introducing the same in almost all the jails in India and Burma, where he was incarcerated, at times against the vehement opposition of the British administrators. When cholera was raging fiercely in a remote part of the district of Cuttack, he took training in its treatment under Dr. Debendra Nath Mukherji, who was similarly inclined. As his parents were away from Cuttack and as his guardian did not permit him to go to the cholera-affected area, he was not found in the house the next morning. As both he and his ashramites were of a secretive nature, two strong young men were despatched to bring him back forcibly and who, after wandering about a lot, managed to trace him in an out-of-the-place cholera-infected village, but they were unable to bring him back. He returned later on of his own accord, after he had finished his work there.

His religious tendency and service to the poor and down-trodden were apparent, when he was about twelve years of age. They had a small Ashram for this purpose and held schools for "harijan" boys. They helped the poor and needy and nursed and gave medical aid to the sick and diseased. He had the opportunity of living in the same house at Puri, Orissa, with Swami Brahmananda, President, Ramakrishna Mission and his brother Swamijis on a few occasions and in some respects Swami Vivekananda was his ideal. He started Durgah Pujah in a mess, in which some of his schoolmates lived at Cuttack, Orissa, and he was instrumental in introducing the same in almost all the jails in India and Burma, where he was incarcerated, at times against the vehement opposition of the British administrators. When cholera was raging fiercely in a remote part of the district of Cuttack, he took training in its treatment under Dr. Debendra Nath Mukherji, who was similarly inclined. As his parents were away from Cuttack and as his guardian did not permit him to go to the cholera-affected area, he was not found in the house the next morning. As both he and his ashramites were of a secretive nature, two strong young men were despatched to bring him back forcibly and who, after wandering about a lot, managed to trace him in an out-of-the-place cholera-infected village, but they were unable to bring him back. He returned later on of his own accord, after he had finished his work there.

During the latter part of 1922, he went to the flood-stricken areas of North Bengal and did relief work there under the guidance of the renowned Professor and Philanthropist, Dr. P. C. Ray. When he was a student of the Presidency College, Calcutta, he left his Calcutta residence, without informing anybody, not even his mother and there was no news from him for about a month. He returned home suddenly in a bad state of health and it transpired that he was in search of a Guru, (religious preceptor) and had trekked widely and in some portions of the Himalayan regions. Whatever he did was without any fuss or publicity and some of his activities were of a secretive nature.

As he grew up, politics, mainly, liberation of India from British yoke, was added to his existing mental outlook and this was practically the only goal of his life thereafter. To this end, he resigned from the Indian Civil Service and on his return to India, his first duty was to meet Shri M. K. Gandhi and to place himself under his command. On reaching Calcutta, he became the right-hand man of Shri C. R. Das, who had sacrificed his extensive lucrative practice as a Barrister-at-Law in the High Court and had started working for the independence of India. During the course of such activities, Netaji suffered humiliation at the hands of the British rulers and their stooges and was imprisoned several times for prolonged periods, generally under Regulation Ill of 1818. Though it was said, that he had connection with revolutionary activities, he was not hauled up under any such specific charge, probably due to his intense secretive nature of work. For gaining experience in this line, he underwent military training in the Calcutta University Corps and carrying this into practice, he gave similar training to the Indian National Congress volunteers. It was unique in the annals of the Congress, when in 1928, he arranged a mile long procession for the President, Pandit Motilal Nehru, on his arrival in Calcutta and led his volunteers on horseback, as General Officer Commanding, in military formation through the streets of Calcutta.

He was intensely patriotic and could never brook any dishonour to his country or to his countrymen. In this connection, he was said to have been implicated in an affair against a British Professor, for which he was rusticated by the University. Two other outstanding achievements of his, among others, were the complete boycott of the Prince of Wales' visit to Calcutta and in getting rid of the Britishers from the administration and from the contracts in the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and in running the same on purely nationalistic lines.

It is also well known how in January, 1941, he gave the slip to the British rulers, whose about 250 Police staff kept a day and night watch over him, and, after travelling through the whole of northern India, entered Afghanistan, with Germany as his destination. This was planned and executed in an exceedingly secret manner and his only confidants were, probably, only one of his brothers, three nephews and a niece, who were under strict oaths of secrecy to him. His aged mother, who was occupying an adjoining room, and all others, including members of his family and his political associates, had no knowledge of this. As pre-arranged, the public as well as the other members of his family, came to know that he had left home, only when his confidants broke the news after about ten days of his actual departure and after he was reported to have crossed the Indian frontier and had entered Afghanistan safely.

His secret and hazardous mission and dare-devil enterprise in coming all the way to the Far East from Germany in 1943 to hasten his work for the Independence of India, first in a German and subsequently in a Japanese submarine, risking the Allied naval blockade and mines, is too well known, as also the fact that during his military operations against them in Burma, he was quite oblivious to aerial bombing by them and took shelter on rare occasions and only, when compelled to do so by his followers and that, after he had seen that all others had been safely lodged.

He was an arch secret service man, with a dogged determination in carrying out his plans, always unmindful of the difficulties and consequences that they would entail. In such matters, he confided in the minimum few, devised his plans and movements secretly and in the furtherance of or in the execution of the same, there was nothing in the world, including his own self, that he could not risk or sacrifice.

All these characteristics of his were revealed to the world in greater prominence in his activities in the Far East during the years 1943 to 1945 and for which, the people there of all nationalities had the highest admiration and regard for him. For this, credit is due to his countrymen there for their intense and all-out sacrifice, to the Japanese Government and that great nation for their unstinted help to and co-operation with him in his struggle for the liberation of India from foreign yoke and to the Heads of all the States there and their citizens for the facilities and help rendered by them. It is my humble opinion, that it is mainly due to them that his achievement there could be so brilliant.

This is the person, who inspired his countrymen, living in foreign lands in East Asia, into volunteering their lives for fighting with arms against the British rulers for the independence of their country, who, with such support and sacrifice, inaugurated the Provisional Government of Azad Hind with all the usual requisites and paraphernalia of a Government, that was recognised by no less than nine free nations of the world, who organised the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army), manned, trained and officered by his countrymen and who led that army as a separate entity against the British rulers with the great and mighty Japanese Army by his side. Though physically unsuccessful in the end against them, final victory was his, as his demand for the independence of India by force against force, permeated the ranks of the British Indian Army, Navy and Air Force Services and which expedited the departure of the British rulers from India.

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