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)

Colleagues accept Netaji's plan partly

Undaunted by superior enemy forces, he was determined to carry on his struggle for the liberation of India and not depressed by failure in his pilgrimage to Delhi, via Imphal and Kohima, he closed that chapter there, and secretly planned his next move, viz. that the "Next road to Delhi would be via Moscow."

In furtherance of this new plan, he was fortunate enough in securing the whole hearted support of the Japanese Government, who in spite of utter depression and confusion in their ranks, due to their surrender to the Anglo-Americans, were magnanimous enough in taking him away from the clutches of their common enemy.

Regarding this new plan, some details of which I have given earlier, the Japanese Government were giving protection to their friend and ally and were removing him to a safe zone, as the Anglo-Americans were naturally expected to wreak their vengeance on him. While removing him in a brand-new bomber plane from his centre of activities, with only one of his trusted followers, viz., Col. Habibur Rahman, and whom probably they were reluctant to allow and who, therefore, was probably allowed to travel only up to a portion of the journey, his plane is alleged to have met with an accident, resulting in his death.

I have stated above, that not only in my opinion, but also in that of my colleagues, this plan, agreed upon both by the Japanese as well as by Netaji, was prearranged and the last and the most significant portion of it was, that after Netaji had found himself in a safe place, the Japanese Government would announce that he had died and that is actually what they subsequently did. This was just in keeping with what he had previously planned in Calcutta in January, 1941, and that is what his collaborating nephews actually did, viz., that they announced, after reports had been received that he had safely crossed the Indian frontier and had entered Afghanistan, that Netaji had left the house and which consequently was about ten days after his actual departure from Calcutta. I fully realise that this, however, does not take away the possibility of a plane crash, as after all an accident is an accident and is in most cases beyond human control.

Therefore, up to the time of Netaji's arrival at Saigon and his subsequent boarding the plane there for an "unknown destination," which has been stated by many eminent persons, there has been more or less unanimity of opinion among all the three members of the Committee. Events immediately following this, are of vital importance and the evidence on record has, therefore got to be considered very carefully and the conclusions should be arrived at after mature deliberation and irrespective of any consideration whatsoever, especially when these conclusions are not only eagerly awaited by our countrymen, but are of exceptional interest to millions of persons of different nationalities throughout the world.

It may be considered by the most critical and sceptic reader that the foregoing pages may have been written with some bias or prejudice on my part and which, unfortunately for me, may have suggested itself to him from the fact that I happen to be a very close relation of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, but I assure him with all sincerity, that it is not so. On the other hand, I take this as an opportunity to place before him for his most careful consideration that the facts, circumstances and manipulations, some of which have lately gained so much in volume, as to have overflown the normal bounds and found expression in newspaper reports, correspondence and interviews with some of the highest officials of the land, would go to show that the findings arrived at by my learned colleagues were preconceived and prearranged and for being in accordance with the confirmed opinion of the Prime Minister and of his Government. Instead of prejudicing him by telling him what the correct finding of the evidence on record should be, I would in all earnestness, request him, my Government and my countrymen to peruse, not only the conflicting reports submitted by the members of the Committee, but also the evidence on which, reports submitted by the Committee have been based and thereby form their respective individual opinion regarding the subject-matter of this enquiry.

Terms of reference

Now to come to the subject-matter of this enquiry, it would be necessary, in the first instance, to consider the TERMS of REFERENCE, which are as follows:
"To enquire into and to report to the Government of India on the circumstances concerning the departure of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose from Bangkok about the 16th August, 1945, his alleged death as result of an aircraft accident and subsequent developments connected therewith."

The points necessary to be considered may, therefore, be classified as follows:
I. CIRCUMSTANCES CONCERNING THE DEPARTURE, which may be subdivided into, (a) CIRCUMSTANCES and (b) DEPARTURE.
II. ALLEGED DEATH AS A RESULT OF AN AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT.

In this connection, it may be said that the wording of the "Terms of Reference" is such as to give the impression that the aircraft accident has been accepted as a settled fact. In my humble opinion, it should not be so, as the truth or otherwise of this point is an important subject-matter for decision in this enquiry. The points that may arise subsequent to this alleged accident, hinge to a great extent on the finding on this point. So, before making a decision on this crucial point, it would be indispensably necessary to consider carefully, the whole of the evidence on all the other connected points. If after such careful consideration, the finding be that the aircraft accident did not take place, then only would that finding be a very definite, conclusive and irrevocable one. With such a finding the remaining subject-matter of this enquiry would automatically simplify be itself considerably. Therefore, it has got to be decided first, (a) as to whether the aircraft accident took place or not, and then, (b) if it be held, that such accident did not take place, whether the remaining evidence on record would justify and confirm that finding, and (c) that if it be held, on the contrary, that such accident did take place, then it has got to be decided further, whether, (d) death took place, or, (e) death did not take place.

III. SUBSEQUENT DEVELOPMENTS CONNECTED THEREWITH
The points to be considered here, depend, mainly, on the findings on points II (a), (b), (c), (d) & (e) above.

If according to point II (b), the definite finding be that the aircraft accident did not take place, then it would automatically follow that Netaji did not die. The subsequent developments arising there-from would therefore, be as to where Netaji went after leaving Saigon. As no steps were taken for making enquiries on these lines, it would suffice to say here that, as it has been held that the aircraft accident did not take place, so Netaji did not die and there is no knowledge of his subsequent whereabouts.

If, however, according to II (c), it be held that aircraft accident took place, then such accident may or may not have caused death to Netaji, and so the next finding would be in accordance with either II (b) or II (e). If the finding be in accordance with II (e), viz., that Netaji did not die, then the subsequent developments arising therefrom, would more or less, be similar to those of II (b) stated above.

If, however, the finding be in accordance with 11(d), viz., that Netaji died as a result of that aircraft accident, then the subsequent developments would not only be as to how his body was disposed of, but it would also be very important and necessary to account for the baggage, including treasure, he was carrying, the dress he was wearing, the articles he was wearing or carrying on his person, e.g., his wrist watch, his spectacles, his rings, fountain pen, cigarette case, cigarette lighter, religious books, Gita & Chandi, purse, magnifying glass, insignia as Supreme Commander, I. N. A. & 1.1. L. badges, etc. and, as stated by Shri Das, witness No. 2, his revolver also.

As regards treasure, it is my humble opinion, that so much of the evidence on record regarding it, as is necessary for the correct decision of the subject-matter of this enquiry, as embodied in the TERMS of REFERENCE and its clarification noted above, may only be taken into consideration for the purposes of this enquiry and as, by itself, it is a very important and complicated matter, it should, if considered necessary, form the subject-matter of a separate enquiry, which should go into full details, commencing from the various sources from and the different descriptions in which they were obtained and ending with the small fraction of the same now in deposit in the National Museum, Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi and after considering carefully all the intermediate stages.

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