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>>

Report of the One-man Commission of Inquiry into the Disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (1970-74)

2. Intoductory

2.1 The story of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's life too well known to need a detailed and lengthy repetition in a report which must be confined to the subject matter of the inquiry as set out in the Notification cited in the previous chapter. The facts may be studied in a number of books and pamphlets, some of which are named in Appendix IV to this report. However, for the better understanding of the argument upon which are based the findings and the final conclusions of this Commission, it is necessary to state some of the more significant events of Bose's life.

2.2 Subhas Chandra Bose was born of Bengali parents at Cuttack, in Orissa, on January 23, 1897. He was sent to the Baptist Missionary School at an early age; and at the age of 16, he entered the Presidency College, Calcutta, to read Philosophy. Three years later, he was expelled for taking part in an assault on an English Lecturer who had been rude to a student, but he was later readmitted to the University, and was allowed to continue his studies. In 19 19, he was awarded the B.A. degree with First Class Honours in Philosophy. He then proceeded to Cambridge to study at the University, and to sit for the Indian Civil Service competitive examination. This he did in the autumn of 1920, and was placed fourth in order of merit among the successful candidates. He, however, decided to resign from the Indian Civil Service and to devote himself to political work in India. He, accordingly, returned to India in July 1921, and first of all, went to pay his respects to Mahatma Gandhi. Bose did not agree with Gandhiji's creed of non-violence. He considered the peaceful means advocated by Gandhiji totally ineffective for obtaining freedom from British bondage. He began working with C. R. Das on the Forward which was a nationalist newspaper. Towards the end of 1921, he attended Gandhiji's secret conference on the non-cooperation movement, and took a prominent part m the agitation against the Prince of Wales, who was then visiting India. He assumed the leadership of the Congress volunteers in this agitation. The civil disobedience movement began on 1-12-1921, and within a few days, Bose was arrested for taking part in it. He was sentenced to 6 months' imprisonment. C R. Das was also sentenced at the same time, and Das and Bose were confined in the same jail. It was after his release, in September 1922, that Bose made his first political speech, but his public activity was not confined to making speeches, and he undertook relief work in the flooded region of Northern Bengal.

2.3 In April 1924, Bose was elected Chief Executive Officer, Calcutta, when C. R. Das was elected Mayor. In this post, he acquired a great deal of experience in administrative and executive matters. But he felt somewhat deprived of contact with the public, and complained of being tied up in office files. Albeit, his post of Chief Executive Officer was not unimportant. It had not only a high status, but carried the handsome salary of Rs. 4,000 a month together with many perquisites, such as a free residential house and a motor-car. Bose, however, was not content to work in office; his public declarations brought him under the mischief of the Emergency Ordinance and in October, 1924, he was apprehended and detained without trial. Three months later, he was removed to Fort Mandalay in Burma. While in detention there, he meditated, read and grew mentally to maturity. On May 16, 1927, Bose was conditionally released from detention, on grounds of ill health. The condition imposed was that he should go to Switzerland for treatment without setting foot in India. Bose refused to comply with this condition, but the order of release was not withdrawn. In November, 1927, Bose was elected Chairman of the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee, and a little later, he was elected General Secretary of Congress along with Jawaharlal Nehru. In the following summer (1928), Bose became a member of the All Parties Committee which advocated dominion status for India. Neither Bose nor Nehru was, however, satisfied with this somewhat luke-warm and moderate demand, and they formed the Indian Independence League, aimed at working for the complete independence of India. At the Congress assembly, Bose commanded the parade of Congress volunteers, and made a great impression upon everyone by the disciplined character of the volunteers and his complete dominion over them.

2.4 In 1930, the full-scale civil disobedience movement, launched by Mahatma Gandhi, began. Within a short time, Bose was arrested and sentenced to one year's imprisonment. In Prison, as in his detention on the previous occasion, he read, wrote, meditated and prayed. In the course of a scuffle between prisoners and warders, he received injuries. Thereupon, he began a hunger strike. The authorities released him on September 25, 1930, and Bose found himself Mayor of Calcutta because the old Mayor had not been able to take the oath of office within the requisite period of six months. In the year following, Bose was elected Chairman of the All India Trade Union Congress. He was arrested for disobeying government orders when he visited a disturbed area in Bengal, and was imprisoned for 7 days. On January 26 of the same year, he was re-arrested for leading a demonstration on what had been named India's Independence Day. He was released in March, but in January 1932 he was re-arrested, along with a number of other Congressmen. A few weeks later, he was released on grounds of ill-health. He was suffering badly, and went to Vienna where he spent a little more than a fortnight in a sanatorium. In Vienna, Bose met Vithalbhai Patel who was also an invalid and had gone there for medical treatment. Bose and Patel conversed and discussed the political situation in India, and they issued a statement. Bose was opposed to Gandhiji's peaceful policies, and is alleged to have said: "Gandhi is an old, useless piece of furniture. He has done good service in his time, but is an obstacle now." Before his death in October 1933, Patel made Bose the trustee of his ideas and of a considerable sum of money intended for propagation, abroad, of knowledge about India. In the following year, Bose made an extensive tour of European countries, visiting Germany, Rome, Prague, Warsaw, Istanbul, Belgrade and Bucharest. He sponsored the formation of a Students' Association to help Indians in Europe. Bose continued to make political contacts, and met Dr. Benes several times. He met the Irish leader, De Valera, Romain Rolland, Hitler, Ribbentrop and others. He published his book The Indian Struggle, but the book was banned in India by the British Government.

2.5 At the end of 1934, Bose flew home to see his father who was dying, but arrived too late to see him alive. The following year, he returned to Europe in accordance with the terms of his release which did not permit his stay in India except for special reasons and upon specific permission having been accorded. He, however, tired of remaining in exile, and in March 1936 he declared that, despite the orders of the Government, he was returning to India. He landed at Bombay on April 8, 1936 and was immediately arrested and interned in his brother's house near Darjeeling. He was released nearly a year later on March 17, 1937. He agreed to accept nomination as Congress President in 1938. He paid another visit to Europe in 1937 and met Attlee, Earnest Bevin and Stafford Cripps. He had now established himself as a person of national significance, and in Europe, he was sometimes ranked with Gandhi and Nehru.

2.6 In 1938, the 51st Session of the Congress was held at Haripura. Bose had been elected President, and this was his political coronation. In a car, drawn by 51 bullocks and fervently acclaimed by the public, he passed through 51 gates of honour which led to the pandal where the session was to be held. In the following year, Bose sought re-election as Congress President and stood against Gandhiji's nominee. His conflict with Gandhiji was now openly declared. Bose won by a small margin, but Gandhiji's feeling about Bose's conduct made it impossible for him to continue in office. Gandhiji had openly declared his displeasure and his unhappiness, saying that Bose's election was for him (Gandhiji) a personal defeat. He even hinted at retirement. Bose corresponded with Gandhiji, but the two could not come to any terms. Bose's colleagues in the Congress Committee, made it impossible for him to work, and feeling that he had been unjustly dealt with, he resigned. He founded the Forward Bloc, with the aim of consolidating all left-wing groups, so that thus united, they could effectively oppose the tendencies in the Congress towards too much constitutionalism, on the one hand, and dictatorship, on the other. His complaint was that though he had been elected President of the National Congress a second time by a democratic process, those who disagreed with him had intrigued against him. So now he condemned the Congress as a pernicious dictatorship not dissimilar to Hitler's regime in Germany. In July 1939, to protest against a particular Congress move, he called for country-wide demonstration. But so open a challenge could not be tolerated, and he was promptly suspended from Congress office for three years. The next Congress Session took place at Ramgarh in March, 1940. There also was held the Anti-compromise Conference which called for an immediate all India struggle for independence. Bose attended this Conference, and lent his weight to its deliberations. On July 2, 1940, he was arrested for organising a popular demonstration in Calcutta, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment.

2.7 The war in the West had by now increased in intensity and scope, and was going against the Allies. Bose wanted to be free, and to do something which should strike a blow against the British rule in India. He had recourse to a subterfuge by going on hunger strike and saying that he would starve himself to death. His political status and his immense popularity with the people were factors which the British Government could not disregard, and it was feared that his death, or a serious impairment of his health might have dire consequences. So, the Government released him on December 5, 1940, and allowed him to go home; but he was told that he would be under house arrest. Bose recuperated from his indisposition quietly, and then went into retreat, declining to see or receive anyone except a few intimate friends. These friends noticed that Bose had grown a beard. On the evening of January 16, 1941, a car drew up near Bose's house, and Bose, disguised as a Muslim religious teacher, named Maulvi Ziauddin, slipped out. Accompanied by his nephew, Sisir Kumar, he drove some miles to a village, and thence moving by night, he reached Gomoh, 210 miles from Calcutta. At this place, he took the train for Peshawar, leaving his nephew behind. At Peshawar, he was met by one Bhagat Ram, and two days later, both men, disguised as Pathans, left for Kabul. After four days' travel through perilous tribal country, they reached Kabul, and took shelter in a lorry-drivers' inn. At Kabul, Bose tried to contact the Russian Embassy, but failed to gain access to it. He then sent Bhagat Ram to the Italian Legation. This proved more rewarding, and Bose was welcomed and promised a passport which would enable him to travel out of Afghanistan. But weeks were to pass while the formalities were being completed, and as the prolonged stay of the two men in the lorry-drivers' inn was causing suspicion among the inmates, they went to stay with Uttam Chand Malhotra. Finally, on Match 18, 1941, Bose left for the Russian frontier with an Italian Passport in the name of Orlando Massotta accompanied by couriers specially sent from Europe to fetch him.

2.8 Travelling in this manner, Bose reached Germany and was there received by Ribbentrop. He proposed to do anti-British propaganda from a secret radio in Germany, and asked for an Axis declaration on Indian independence. The Italians made an evasive reply and the Germans told him that such a declaration was premature. Feeling piqued and disappointed, Bose refused to broadcast, but he made approaches to the Indian prisoners of war to get their reaction to his proposal for organising an army to fight the Allies. His efforts, however, were not successful though many of the prisoners paid him the respect and homage due to a distinguished Indian leader. This was little more than lip-service, but, at least conveyed a measure of sympathy and agreement with Bose's aims. The German Government placed an office and funds at his disposal. Bose engaged 25 Indian assistants and set up the office of the Indian Independence League. His presence gradually became known in Berlin, and the Indian acclaimed him at the parties he attended. It was at this time that he came to be known as Netaji, and the greeting Jai Hind was used for the first time.

2.9 The war in the East was now well advanced, and the Japanese proposed a tripartite declaration on India. They invited Bose to visit Japan, where he could rally Indian and Asian support for the Japanese effort. But, once again, Italy and Germany repelled the suggestion; Germany again saying that the idea was not acceptable as the time for such a political manoeuvre was not ripe. Bose was disappointed and felt that he had nothing further to expect from Germany and Italy. His hopes now rested on Japan and the effort in the Far East. He thought that with Japanese collaboration he would be able to rally the support of three million Indians residing in South-East Asia. He wrote a strong message to the Bangkok Conference, which was read there. At the same time he began to make plans to go to Japan. Finally on February 8, 1943, he and Abid Hussain left Kiel in a German U-boat. The boat swept out to the Atlantic, and passing round the Cape of Good Hope, arrived south of Madagascar. There, at a pre-arranged place, Bose and Abid Hussain were met by a Japanese submarine, to which they were transferred in a rubber dinghy. The submarine took them to Sabang on the North tip of Sumatra, and from there, the two men were flown to Tokyo along with Yemamoto, who was then Head of the Japanese-Indian liaison group. So, on June 13, 1943, Bose and party arrived in Tokyo.

2.9 The war in the East was now well advanced, and the Japanese proposed a tripartite declaration on India. They invited Bose to visit Japan, where he could rally Indian and Asian support for the Japanese effort. But, once again, Italy and Germany repelled the suggestion; Germany again saying that the idea was not acceptable as the time for such a political manoeuvre was not ripe. Bose was disappointed and felt that he had nothing further to expect from Germany and Italy. His hopes now rested on Japan and the effort in the Far East. He thought that with Japanese collaboration he would be able to rally the support of three million Indians residing in South-East Asia. He wrote a strong message to the Bangkok Conference, which was read there. At the same time he began to make plans to go to Japan. Finally on February 8, 1943, he and Abid Hussain left Kiel in a German U-boat. The boat swept out to the Atlantic, and passing round the Cape of Good Hope, arrived south of Madagascar. There, at a pre-arranged place, Bose and Abid Hussain were met by a Japanese submarine, to which they were transferred in a rubber dinghy. The submarine took them to Sabang on the North tip of Sumatra, and from there, the two men were flown to Tokyo along with Yemamoto, who was then Head of the Japanese-Indian liaison group. So, on June 13, 1943, Bose and party arrived in Tokyo.

2.11 Regarding Malaya he stated that the way the Japanese were crushing the Malayans and completely Japanising them had aroused his suspicion about their sincerity and good faith. Mohan Singh ordered all I.N.A. troops to collect their arms, disband and revert back to the Indian prisoners of war status. The I.N.A. thus stood dissolved. On this Mohan Singh was dismissed by the Japanese military authorities, and placed under arrest. It was at this juncture that Bose arrived in Tokyo.

2.12 In Tokyo, Bose was received by the Japanese Premier, Tojo, who said in the Diet: "Japan is firmly resolved to extend all means in order to help to expel and eliminate from India the Anglo-Saxon influences which are the enemy of the Indian people, and enable India to achieve full independence in the true sense of the term." A few days later, Bose held a press conference and made two radio broadcasts, calling upon Indians to gather under his banner. He then went to Singapore, accepted the Presidentship of the Indian Independence League and called for the allegiance of the Indian National Army, which had been reorganised by the effort of Rash Behari Bose. On July 9, 1943, in pouring rain, Bose addressed a meeting of 60,000 people, and said: "There is no nationalist leader in India who can claim to possess the many-sided experience that I have been able to acquire." He then began his campaign, and toured extensively, visiting Rangoon, Bangkok, Saigon, meeting and exhorting Indians and working long hours late into the night. In August, he assumed personal command of the I.N.A., and a few days later, announced this fact.

2.13 Field Marshal Count Terauchi was in overall charge of the Japanese forces in South-East Asia, and he was not in agreement with Bose's plan to wage war against the British. He was of the view that the war in South-East Asia was purely a Japanese affair, while Bose, on the other hand, argued that Indians must make the maximum contribution of blood in their fight for freedom. After some insistence, Terauchi finally agreed to employ one regiment of the I.N.A. as a trial measure. Bose spoke to the I.N.A. about their shortcomings. He pointed out that desertion and pilfering among them were rife. There was some disloyal talk, and Bose said that the chicken-hearted could leave the army, and he would not dissuade them from their design. He picked a group of men and formed the 1st Division, which was called Subhas regiment. This was placed under Capt. Shah Nawaz Khan and the men were subjected to hard training. A few other regiments were also formed, and a regiment of nurses and women soldiers, called the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, also came into existence. On October 21, 1943, Bose inaugurated the Provisional Government of Free India and appointed a Council of Ministers to advise and assist him. He styled himself the Head of the State, Prime Minister and Minister for War and Foreign Affairs. Bose took a solemn oath to serve his country and continue the sacred war of freedom till the last breath of his life. The next day, the Provisional Government declared war on British and America. A number of countries quickly accorded recognition to the Provisional Government. Bose, considering himself the Head of an independent government, even though the government was a provisional one and functioning in exile, felt that as an ally and friend of the Japanese, he should have a more significant voice in the planning and execution of the war effort in the East. Terauchi, however, was not agreeable to Bose's demand, and Bose, therefore, spoke to Tojo and complained of Terauchi's attitude. He asked Tojo to agree that as the Japanese marched into India, the occupied regions would be placed under his (Bose's) control. Four days later, on November 5, Bose addressed a conference in the Diet building. His speech was an immediate success, and Tojo announced that Japan would hand over the Andaman & Nicobar Islands to the Provisional Government of Free India. The Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Sugiyama, agreed that in the 1944 offensive, the I.N.A. would rank as an Allied army under Japanese operational command and not as something subordinate to the Japanese military forces. On November 18, Bose left Tokyo and travelled to Singapore, passing through Nanking, Shanghai, Manila and Saigon. He addressed meetings and was taken around academies, cadet colleges, war factories, etc. From Shanghai, he broadcast an appeal to Chiang Kai Sheik. The tour was a personal success for Bose and when he met Terauchi, the latter agreed that Bose's headquarters would be able to take part in the planning and the execution of the war effort there.

2.14 In December 1943, the second I.N.A. Division was formed, but all was not going well with the I.N.A. In November, there had been a serious mutiny in Singapore. The desertion rate was increasing, and funds were not easily available though Bose had called upon the Indian business community in Burma and the other South-East Asian countries to contribute liberally for the fight against the British. Mohan Singh, who had some influence with the army personnel, was not amenable to Bose's suggestions, and Bose felt that there would be unanticipated difficulties to surmount. Even the concession relating to the Andaman Islands was not implemented in the manner he had hoped. Bose installed Loganadhan as Chief Commissioner, but the Japanese Admiral told him that for cogent strategic reasons, there could be no complete handover during the war. He added that if the Commissioner (Loganadhan) was prepared to cooperate, some department of civil administration could be transferred to his control. This was scarcely what Bose had wished or hoped for. He realised that he had not been accorded the equal status of an ally.

2.15 Burma, at this time, was under Japanese occupation, and the Allies were expected to launch a campaign for its recovery. So, early in 1944, the Japanese decided to open a second front in Burma in order to forestall the British army's advance from India towards the East. Japan's intention was to push forward into India and eliminate the entire British influence on the Eastern front. The I.N.A was asked to help and take part in this venture. Bose stoutly resisted the suggestion that small groups of I.N.A. personnel should be attached to the advancing Japanese units. He insisted that the I.N.A. should form the advance guard, and "the first drop of blood to be shed on Indian soil should be that of a member of the I.N.A." This was, however, the proposal of a visionary, of a zealous but impractical patriot. He had only 3,000 trained soldiers ready, and the strength of the Japanese forces in Burma was 230,000. The Japanese, who were anxious to secure a decisive victory by deploying their most competent men, did not relish the prospect of a small band of I.N.A. men, drawn from the inglorious rout of a defeated army, leading the first thrust in a critical manoeuvre. However Bose, basing his hopes on an anti-British revolt in India, obtained the approval of the Japanese authorities to permit one I.N.A. regiment to take part in the Imphal campaign, which was aimed at pushing the British Forces to the West of Imphal. But, he lacked the provisions, supplies and medicines necessary for conducting the campaign. The Japanese gave little assistance. The I.N.A. men fought gallantly, and they made a rapid but brief advance. They shed their blood on Indian soil, but the campaign was a failure, and Bose realised that his first attempt to liberate India had not succeeded. He also realised that despite the outward respect and honour with which the Japanese treated him, he was looked upon as a puppet, a tool which could be discarded and ignored, when deemed no longer useful. Shah Nawaz Khan, who commanded the first brigade of hand-picked men and took part in the Imphal campaign, complained bitterly about the unhelpful attitude and the almost callous indifference of the Japanese. They provided the I.N.A. with inferior transport, insufficient ammunition, little or no equipment for communication, poor medical supplies and surgical instruments. There was shortage of boots and clothing and foodstuffs. However sympathetic the authorities at Tokyo might be, Bose received no cooperation or friendship from the Japanese in the actual field of war. In September 1944, he ordered the retreat of his army from the battle front. He thought then that this would be only a case of reenter pour mieux sauter. But his subsequent campaign also ended in failure. The Allied forces pushed back the Japanese army, and the I.N.A. was compelled to retreat. Even then, Bose did not give up hope and thought that "he could re-organise his disintegrated forces and resume the fight to uphold the honour of India." Alas, in April 1945, the Japanese decided to leave Burma and Bose had to abandon his last hope.

2.16 We may pass over the events of the succeeding months as they have ho relevance to this narrative. On August 11, 1945, when Bose was at Saramban, he received information that Russia had declared war on Japan. The next day he received another message intimating Japan's decision to surrender to the Allied forces. He went to Singapore on August 13, and discussed his future plans with his civil and military officers for three days. On the morning of August 16, he flew to Bangkok and had further consultation with Japanese representatives, Gen. Isoda, Hachia, the Japanese Minister accredited to the Provisional Government of Free India, and Kagawa. On the morning of August 17, Bose, accompanied by 6 members of his staff and some Japanese officers, travelled to Saigon in two bomber planes, provided by the Japanese. Planes had to be changed here and Bose wished his entire party to accompany him on his journey beyond Saigon, and when the Army officers at the airport expressed their inability to accede to this request he insisted that the matter be referred to Field Marshal Terauchi. The party waited while messengers were sent to obtain instructions from Terauchi, who was at Dalat about a hundred miles away. Eventually, most of Bose's party had to stay behind, as the sole available Japanese bomber which was carrying Japanese army officers beyond Saigon, could accommodate only Bose and one other person. Bose selected Habibur Rahman to accompany him on what has been described as his last journey. The plane landed at Taipei in Formosa for refuelling on August 18. What happened subsequently is a matter of dispute, and it was at this stage that Bose can be said to have disappeared.

2.17 News of Bose's death in an air crash or in consequence of injuries received in an air crash on August 18, 1945 was broadcast on the radio from Tokyo by the Domai Agency a few days later, and was then published in several newspapers. The news was read by Indians with sorrow and a sense of deep bereavement. The post-war turmoil in the country with the political and economic problems that came with it, was agitating the Indian mind, and Bose's reported death was looked upon as just one more tragic event in an era which had left vast areas in Europe and Asia devastated, homes, institutions and factories razed to the ground, 6 million Jews exterminated, Hiroshima and Nagasaki all but annihilated, Hitler's aggressive militarism and Japan's pride in never having suffered defeat brought low.

2.18 In India, there was feverish activity to achieve independence as quickly as possible. Then, there came the British Government's decision to try the I.N.A. officers on the charge of treason. During war time there had been a diligent censorship of news and at that time, the Indian people knew hardly anything about the I.N.A and of what part Bose had played on the Eastern front of the war. But when they heard of the proposal to try by a court martial, persons who had fought the Allied forces to liberate India, a wave of intense nationalist feeling and indignation went surging through the country. The facts of the trial and what happened afterwards are a matter of known and undisputed history and scarcely germane to the present inquiry. What is relevant to the subject matter of the present investigation is that after the release of the three accused persons, Shah Nawaz Khan, Sehgal and Dhillon, the men and officers of the I.N.A. were acclaimed as patriots and national heroes. Subhas Chandra Bose was elevated to the status of a unique incomparable leader, the greatest patriot and freedom-fighter and, above all, a martyr.

2. 19 It was not, however, long before doubts began to be expressed about the truth of the crash story and about Bose's death on August 18, 1945. Many apocryphal accounts of his escape and his subsequent activities were narrated. As early as 1946, Sardar Patel, Home Member, was asked if any ban had been placed on the movements of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. In 1952, there was a question in Parliament asking if the Government of India intended to make an investigation into the truth of the report about Bose's death. The demand for an inquiry into the whole matter became more vociferous, and in this demand Shah Nawaz Khan, who had been a trusted lieutenant of Bose, and the members of the Bose family joined. At a public meeting held in Calcutta, the need for such inquiry was vehemently protested. In April, 1956, the Government of India appointed a committee consisting of Maj. Gen. (I.N.A) Shah Nawaz Khan as Chairman, and Shri Suresh Chandra Bose, elder brother of Netaji, and Shri S. N. Maitra, ICS, as members, "to enquire into and to report to the Government of India the circumstances concerning the departure of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose from Bangkok about the 16th August 1945, his alleged death as a result of an aircraft accident and subsequent developments connected therewith."

2.20 This Committee examined in all 67 witnesses in India and at places in East Asia, and submitted a majority report to the Government on July 16, 1956. Shri Suresh Chandra Bose did not subscribe to the conclusions arrived at by his colleagues, and wrote a dissenting report which he submitted to the Government on October 9, 1956. This dissenting report was placed on the table of the Rajya Sabha on December 12, 1956. It was also published by the author in the form of a book which has been placed before the Commission.

2.21 The findings of the two members who signed the majority report were that the plane in which Bose, Habibur Rahman and a number of Japanese military officers travelled from Saigon to Taihoku crashed within a few moments of its taking off from the Taihoku airfield for its intended flight to Dairen in Manchuria, on the afternoon of August 18, 1945. As the plane hit the ground, it caught fire. Bose sustained serious burn injuries, to which he succumbed in a hospital in Taihoku the same night. His body was cremated and the ashes were flown to Tokyo early in September and deposited in the Rankoji Temple. Shri Suresh Chandra Bose disagreed with these findings and expressed the opinion that the evidence on which they were based was not trustworthy and was liable to be rejected.

2.22 The Government of India accepted the majority report and gave expression to its conviction that Bose had been proved to have died in Taipei in Formosa or Taiwan on the night of August 18, 1945. But the controversy regarding Bose's disappearance, or more accurately non-appearance, was not resolved. Dissatisfaction about the procedure adopted by the Committee and the correctness of its findings was frequently expressed in public. Even the Bona fides of Shri Shah Nawaz Khan and Shri Maitra were questioned. It was said, inter alia that neither of the two members who had signed the majority report had any judicial experience or possessed the ability to conduct a probe of such complexity and importance. The Committee was criticised for not paying a visit to Taiwan to inspect the site of the alleged crash. Rumours of Bose having been seen alive once again became rife. Some of them found their way into newspapers and magazine articles. The first one to gain a greater than usual currency was that Swami Shardanand of the Shaulmari Ashram near Sylhet was no other than Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who for very good reasons, chosen to conceal his identity and remain incognito till such moment, as in the fullness of time, his purpose dictated a public manifestation.

2.23 The Chief propagator and publicist of this story was Uttam Chand Malhotra, who had given shelter to Bose in his home in Kabul in 1941, when the later was making arrangements to escape to Germany: Malhotra advertised an account of his visit to the Shaulmari Ashram in July, 1962. The account was published in Navbharat Times and the Daily Milap. Questions were asked in Parliament, letters were addressed to the Shaulmari Baba, as Swami Shardanand came to be called. There were other reports of Bose having been seen in other places in other guises. Dr. Satyanarain Sinha, who at one time, was a Member of Parliament, paid a visit to Taiwan in 1964 and, on his return, wrote or inspired an article published in the Anand Bazar Patrika, in which he stated his reasons for coming to the conclusion that Bose's plane had not crashed on the Taipei airfield as declared by Shri Shah Nawaz Khan and Maitra. He also published a book, Netaji Mystery, in September 1966. Members of the All India Forward Bloc political group took up the matter with the authorities. A petition signed by more than 350 Members of Parliament was presented to the President of India, in which a demand for a properly conducted judicial inquiry into the matter was made. A similar demand was placed before the Prime Minister. Finally, on December 5, 1969, eighteen Members of Parliament met the Minister for Home Affairs and pressed upon him the urgent need for appointing an inquiry commission. The Minister promised to place the matter before the Cabinet. Shortly after this, the Cabinet took a decision to appoint a commission under the Commissions of Inquiry Act. In pursuance of this decision, the present Commission was appointed by means of a notification dated July 11,1 970.

2.24 It will have been observed that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has, in these pages, been referred to simply as Bose. This has been done not in the interests of brevity or convenience, not to conform to the forensic practice of dispensing with titles and honorific prefixes when speaking of persons whose names figure in judicial proceedings, but because Netaji occupies such an eminent and incomparable position in India's history that he needs no honorifics to emphasise or enhance his intrinsic greatness. Just as titles and trappings of dignity have, in the course of time, been dissociated from the names of Ceasar, Ashoka, Akbar, Nehru and Gandhi, it is enough to say 'Bose', and yet remain completely respectful and conscious of his political greatness and splendour. Nehru in his writings, refers to Mahatma Gandhi as Gandhi. Most writers speak of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as Nehru. These names conjure up a whole complex of ideas, associations and historical events in which the persons so named played their respective roles. The addition of a prefix or a suffix does not add to their importance or augment their glory. So, without meaning any disrespect or irreverence, the writer of this report will, throughout, refer to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as Bose unless there is a possibility of ambiguity or misunderstanding.