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)

5. Examination of Certain Hypotheses

5.1 In this chapter I propose to deal with three matters which were agitated before me at some length, though they have only a remote and indirect bearing on the facts under inquiry, viz.

 

  1. what was the exact nature of relations between Nehru and Bose;
  2. was Bose declared a war criminal liable to be tried and punished by the special tribunal set up for this purpose; and
  3. what is the significance of the earliest enquiries regarding Bose conducted by Intelligence and secret service personnel.

 

It will be seen at once, that the answers to these questions may throw some light on Bose's attitude and his plans, but they cannot afford much assistance in the investigation of what happened on August 18, 1945. But since it has been argued that these matters are helpful in understanding Bose's character and the plans he may be assumed to have made (when no positive evidence of such plans is available) they demand more than a passing reference in this report.

5.2 The argument relation to Nehru-Bose relationship was advanced with considerable vehemence. It was alleged that Nehru was hostile to Bose, and had been so, ever since Bose defeated Gandhiji's nominee at the election for the Presidentship of the National Congress in 1939. Nehru looked upon Bose as a rival and, after India attained independence, a danger to his position as supreme leader and political head of India. Nehru, so it was argued, had never accepted the truth of the air crash story, and he knew that Bose was- still alive. It was suggested in the course of arguments that Nehru was indeed, in some way, responsible for Bose not making a public appearance. Nehru, therefore, contrived to obtain a false report of Bose's death by appointing a committee, the members of which he could control or influence.

5.3 To support this argument, reliance was placed on the supposedly hostile feeling between Bose and Nehru arising out of differences in their political ideologies. A statement attributed to Nehru was that if Bose invaded India with the assistance of the Japanese army, he (Nehru) would oppose Bose with the force of arms. It was also alleged that Nehru, at the invitation of Lord Mountbatten, went to Singapore in 1946, and there, agreed to some plan whereby Bose could be prevented from making himself manifest.

5.4 Let us first examine the political differences between Nehru and Bose, and see if there is evidence of any hostility or animus on the part of Nehru toward Bose. The Counsel for the Commission read extracts from A Bunch of Old Letters by Jawaharlal Nehru, the authenticity of the contents of which was not challenged by anyone. These letters show that there were, no doubt, political differences between Bose and Nehru, and whereas Nehru was a more moderate politician, Bose was inclined to be more revolutionary and more impetuous. But we find no evidence whatsoever of an\ hostility, recrimination or vindictiveness on the part of Nehru. Indeed, before the unpleasantness caused by the presidential election of 1939, Bose had written to Nehru in the most affectionate and respectful terms. He wrote on March 4, 1936: "I shall make the statement as short as possible and say clearly that I have definitely decided to give you my full support. Among the front rank leaders of today, you are the only one to whom we can look up to for leading the Congress in a progressive direction. “Again, on 13th March, 1936, he wrote to Nehru: "I can think of no one else in whom I could have greater confidence." Writing on June 13, 1936, he expressed concern about Nehru's health, saying, "from the papers I gathered that you were over-working yourself and I was feeling concerned about your health. I am glad that you went to Mussoorie for a rest; though a short one. I can appreciate how difficult it is for you to avoid over-working yourself; nevertheless, I do hope that you will not strain yourself too much. It will not help anyone if you have a break down." Again on October 19, 1938, Bose writing to Nehru said, "You cannot imagine how I have missed you all these months. I realise, of course, that you needed a change very badly. I am only sorry that you did not give yourself enough physical rest." A. K. Chanda, writing on the eve of the presidential election on November 28, 1938, said to Nehru: "And if he (Gandhiji) met you now, he would, in all probability, seek your help in getting Subhas Babu re-elected." When the rift took place, Nehru wrote to Bose, more in sorrow than in anger, regretting that differences had arisen in the National Congress. He said: "As I told you, your contest in the election has done some good and some harm. I recognise the good, but I am apprehensive of the harm that will follow. I still think that, in the balance, it would have been better if this particular conflict had not taken place in this way. But that is a thing of the past and we have to face the future." Bose, however, appears to have taken the differences as a personal affront to his dignity and position. He did not reply to the long letter written by Nehru from which the above passage has been quoted, and later, Nehru wrote to his brother, Sarat Chandra Bose, in reply to a letter which the latter had sent, "but your letter hardly refers to any question of policy or programme. It deals with personal issues and brings serious charges against particular individuals. This brings the argument to a lower level and it is obvious that if such opinions are held by any individual or group against another, mutual cooperation in a common task becomes impossible. I do not know how far your letter represents Subhas's views on the subject…I think it is desirable to have some kind of investigation into the various charges brought by you or others. It is improper that such charges should be made vaguely, and the fact that many people believe in them does not substantiate them. We cannot allow our public life to descend to a level of mutual recrimination ..., I had hoped that it would be possible in these days of internal and external crisis to have a large measure of cooperation among Congress men, and laboured to this end at Tripuri and before...if there is to be conflict among Congress men, I earnestly hope that it will be kept on a higher level and will be confined to matters of policy and principle."

5.5 In these letters there is not the slightest sign of hostility or antipathy. There is an expression of regret on the part of Nehru for the differences in a national organisation. There is anxiety to avoid a split and a spirit of what may be called* sweet reasonableness. It has often been said about Nehru that he never entertained any venom or feelings of recrimination, and that although he was imprisoned a number of times by the British Government, he found it in his heart to be friendly towards the British after independence. It was the system he fought against and not the individuals who were no more than instruments through whom the system was administered. Indeed, not even the worst detractors of Nehru ever accused him of being vindictive or revengeful. After independence when the question of Bose's family and any assistance which they might need arose, Nehru took every possible step to help them. He was, at all times, agreeable to any measure designed to provide financial or other aid to Mrs. Bose and his daughter, Anita.

5.6 The existence of Bose's widow and daughter was first given wide publicity in India by the Hindustan Standard on May 5, 1951. The issue of that date contained a three-column account of a meeting between Aurobindo Bose and his Aunt, Mrs. Subhas Chandra Bose in Vienna, in 1947. It will be recalled that Aurobindo Bose is the son of the late Suresh Chandra Bose and, therefore, a nephew of Netaji. The published account was enlivened by a graphic description of the meeting, and three photographs depicting Mrs. Subhas Chandra Bose, her mother and her young daughter, Anita. One or two passages from this narrative may be quoted:

"Shri Aurobindo Bose, nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, told pressmen in Calcutta on Friday that he was proud of her because she was fully inspired by the ideology of her illustrious husband." "His aunt, Mrs. Emilie Schenkl, was eager to come to India with her daughter Anita." "He informed that Prime Minister Shri Jawaharlal Nehru had written to Mrs. Bose some time ago requesting her, as a friend of Netaji and in his personal capacity, to come to India and spend a couple of months here."... "Shri Bose stated that when he took leave of them at Vienna, Mrs. Bose gave him some souvenirs of Netaji. Among them were photos of Netaji and his wife, the stone extracted after a gallstone operation on Netaji."..."In reply to the question why the news of Netaji's marriage had not been disclosed earlier, he said it had been withheld for the safety of Mrs. Subhas Chandra Bose and her child, because Austria was then under the occupation of the Allied Powers."

5.7 Another nephew of Netaji, Amiya Nath Bose, who has appeared both as Counsel and witness in the present proceedings, wrote to Nehru on June 10, 1952, saying: "I want to send, from time to time, small sums of money to my aunt in Vienna." In another letter he gave the name and address of his Aunt as: Frau Emilie Schenkl, Ferrogasse 24 Vienna. Bose's family was quite enthusiastic about his widow and daughter until Lalita Bose made a suggestion in 1958 that Netaji Bhawan in Calcutta should be handed over legally to Anita. To this suggestion Amiya Nath Bose, at first, objected as also another nephew Dwijendra Nath Bose. They seemed to have agreed to the transfer somewhat reluctantly. But when Anita's visit to India began to draw near, they had second thoughts. On November 1, I960, Pradip Bose, who is another nephew of Netaji, wrote to Nehru that the members of the Bose family were meeting "on 9th November to discuss problems which her visit will entail and also to fix up a comprehensive programme for her." In this letter Pradip Bose did not question Anita's relationship with Netaji, and admitted that she had written to him. At this time somebody appeared to have thought that Anita intended to stay permanently in India. A question was asked in Parliament, and the reply given was that the daughter of Netaji was likely to visit India in December, 1960. Anita arrived in Calcutta and was warmly welcomed. Then she paid a visit to Delhi where she arrived on December 17. The Sunday Standard of December 18, 1960, published a photograph of her and also the following news item:

Miss Anita Bose, 18-year old daughter of Netaji Bose, arrived here today by air from Calcutta for a five-day stay. Miss Bose, who is accompanied by two other members of the Bose family, Dr. Sisir Bose and Lalita Bose, was received at the airport by Mrs. Nayanatara Sehgal, niece of Prime Minister Nehru. Miss Bose will be the guest of Mr. Nehru during her stay in the capital. Mr. Nehru received her affectionately at his residence...."

5.8 Some time after this, Haripada Bose raised a point that Anita was not Bose's daughter at all. The cry was taken up by other members of the Bose family apparently for the reasons that Anita's relationship posed a threat to their interest in the property left by Subhas Chandra Bose. Nevertheless, Nehru continued to feel the greatest concern for Bose's widow and child, and took steps to assist them financially. Apart from the small sums of money which Amiya Nath Bose sent her through the Indian Embassy in Vienna, Nehru created a Trust in the sum of Rs. 2 lakhs out of INA Relief Fund. The major portion of this money was drawn from the proceeds of a film depicting the career of Netaji. There was also a contribution of Rs. 45,000 by the West Bengal Government. The income from the Trust money was regularly sent to Mrs. Bose in Vienna. The Trust property was to become the property of Anita Bose when she attained majority. Emilie Schenkl wrote to Nehru expressing her gratitude for creating -a Trust for her daughter, Anita Bose. "May God bless you", she concluded, "for this noble gesture". Nehru took a personal interest in the drafting of the Trust Deed and the manner in which it was to be administered. Indeed, he showed far more concern than Bose's family. As early as 1958, when Anita was expected to pay a visit to India, Bose's nephews were not too eager to receive her. Dr. B. C. Roy, Chief Minister of West Bengal wrote to Nehru on December 5, 1958:

"I have been discussing the question of Anita's coming over to India. I am enclosing a note, which will give you an idea of the present position regarding the house in Elgin Road. If the heirs of Subhas Chandra Bose are not ready to receive Anita, it will be difficult for her to come and stay at the Elgin Road house, even if she wants to. Under the circumstances, I have told Lalita to inform Anita not to come to India at the present moment."

As already stated above, Anita did pay a visit to India in 1960 and was warmly received, but the warmth was prompted by the knowledge that she was not interested in her late father's property and intended to go back Europe after a brief stay.

5.9 There is not the slightest evidence to indicate any feeling of hostility on the part of Nehru towards Bose. The political and ideological differences between them, which arose in 1938, had vanished with the passage of years, and after 1947, when India attained independence, these differences had no relevance whatsoever because the raison d'etre of these differences was the divergent means which Nehru and Bose thought should be employed to attain independence. Independence having been achieved, the means, which might have had relevance in 1938, were now a matter of no consequence whatsoever. There is nothing to indicate that Nehru would not have welcomed Bose after 1947, had Bose been alive and had he chosen to make a public appearance. In fact, he stated on several occasions that he had always entertained sentiments of respect and affection for Bose.

5.10 With regard to the remark which Nehru is alleged to have made that should Bose invade India with the assistance of Japanese forces, he would oppose him (Bose) with force, no evidence has been produced to indicate when and in what circumstances this remark was made. It has been alleged by Shri Dwijendra Nath Bose that Nehru did make such a remark during the course of World War II. But it is clear that even if this remark were made, it does .not indicate any hostility on the part of Nehru towards Bose. All that Nehru must have meant was that he would have opposed Japanese domination of India to the same extent as he had been opposing British domination. Bose entering India with Japanese assistance could only mean one thing, viz. India would become a colony or a suzerainty of Japan, and to this Nehru was wholly and sternly opposed.

5.11 It has been argued that, in 1946, Nehru was invited by Lord Mountbatten to visit Singapore. There the two leaders drove together in an open carriage and gave the appearance of being friends and political allies. Nehru had been asked to place a wreath on the INA Memorial, but he was dissuaded from doing so by Mountbatten, Mountbatten had the Memorial demolished and Nehru did not raise his voice against this revengeful act of vandalism. So, it was alleged, Nehru was clearly hostile to Bose.

5.12 But Nehru's visit to Singapore in 1946 was not in answer to an invitation issued by Mountbatten. The visit was in pursuance of a resolution passed by the Congress Working Committee on 7-11- 1945. The Working Committee appointed an INA Inquiry and Relief Committee. The purpose of this Committee was to gather information and give relief, where needed, to the I.N.A. personnel. The Committee consisted of 12 members, of whom Jawaharlal Nehru was one. The Working Committee then appointed "Jawaharlal Nehru to proceed to Burma and Malaya to inquire into the condition of Indians there and to arrange for their defence and other help." It was in pursuance of this resolution and this direction of the Working Committee that Nehru went to South-East Asia. He met Mountbatten there, but this was a chance meeting. There is not a shred of evidence to indicate that Mountbatten had invited Nehru to Singapore or that he went there in response to such an invitation. Nehru did go to the site of the demolished I.N.A. Memorial and brought back with him marble slabs which had formed part of the Memorial. These he handed over for safe custody to Shah Nawaz Khan. In the circumstances, it was the most natural thing for Nehru to do, because Shah Nawaz Khan, who had been tried as a traitor for taking part in the I.N.A. campaign against the British and proved to have been Bose's staunch supporter and loyal friend, was expected to handle the marble pieces with the care and respect they deserved. Also, it was natural for Shah Nawaz Khan to take the slabs to the safety of his residential house in Rawalpindi. In the disturbed and uncertain conditions prevailing in the country towards the end of 1946, Shah Nawaz Khan did not think it wise to expose the precious marble slabs to the danger of communal frenzy at Delhi where their identity would be immediately discovered. It was unfortunate that unanticipated events made it impossible to bring the slabs back to India, But nothing in this unhappy episode indicates Nehru's hostility or indifference towards Bose.

5.13 Let us now examine the contention that the Inquiry Commission appointed under the Chairmanship of Shah Nawaz Khan in April, 1956 was a stage-managed event, calculated to suppress the truth and mislead the public into believing that Bose had died in consequence of receiving fatal injuries caused by the crash of an aircraft in which he was travelling. A veiled allegation to this effect was made at the very first public session of the Commission when Shri Amiya Nath Bose stated that he had a very poor opinion of Shri Shah Nawaz Khan's forensic talent and the way in which he had conducted the inquiry. Shri Balraj Trikha, a little later, suggested that the report should not be considered by the Commission and Shah Nawaz Khan should not be allowed to quote from it. Shri Amar Prasad Chakravarti was more forthright, and at the hearing at Calcutta, on November 2, 1970, he posed the rhetorical question: "Is it not a made to order report to support the statement of Nehru which he made in 1952?" He went on to say: "Had not the report been placed before Parliament, I would not have cared; people would not have cared for this trash, this planned report". He called upon the Government to declare the report null and void. Suresh Chandra Bose, Netaji's elder brother, who was a member of the 1956 Committee, said in the course of his evidence that an attempt was made to corrupt him and purchase his assent to the majority report by the offer of a governorship. This offer, he said, was conveyed to him through Shah Nawaz Khan, who spoke to him at Tokyo where the Committee was recording evidence in the course of its inquiry. Later, when he declined to sign the report, approved and signed by S/Shri Shah Nawaz Khan and Maitra, Suresh Chandra Bose was subjected to pressure and coercion by Dr, B. C. Roy, Chief Minister of West Bengal. Hence the report was a contrived and tendentious document and was proof of Nehru's hostility towards Bose and his determination to suppress the truth and mislead the public.

5.14 It was made abundantly clear, at the very beginning of this inquiry, that the report of the Shah Nawaz Khan Committee could not be admitted in order to prove the truth of its contents. This being a de novo inquiry, the findings in the previous inquiry were neither binding on this Commission nor relevant as a piece of evidence. But the circumstances in which the inquiry was ordered are relevant for throwing light on Nehru-Bose relations as argued at considerable length by counsel appearing on behalf of the Bose family and also on behalf of the National Committee. The events which led to the appointment of the Committee have been narrated by Shri Shah Nawaz Khan and also by Shri Suresh Chandra Bose. There are no essential differences in the facts stated by these two witnesses. According to Shah Nawaz Khan, Government was not at all keen to have the inquiry because the report of Bose's death in an air crash had been accepted as true. But since doubts began to be raised in several quarters and there were newspaper reports alleging that Bose was still alive, Shah Nawaz Khan felt that an inquiry was called for. He said in his evidence before me:

"As a humble soldier and a humble follower of Netaji, like all of my colleagues here, I was anxious to know the truth, and several times, I approached our late revered Prime Minister, Nehru and requested him to have a formal inquiry. I told him, 'we do not believe what people say…Therefore, a regular enquiry should be held.' I kept on repeating this from the day of my release from the Red Fort in 1946.

When we got no response, then I went to Calcutta. There, I met the members of the Netaji Smarak Samiti and the President of that Samiti was Shri H. K. Mehtab and the Secretary was Shri S. C. Sinha. I met them and I told them that we must have a regular inquiry, the nation must know what has happened to Netaji and that we must know the truth. I told them that although Shri Habibur Rahman was a very nice man, still unless we held a thorough inquiry, we could not believe him.

"Then the citizens of Calcutta held meetings. I want my friends here to know that it was not a Committee set up by the Government but by the people of Calcutta. Then, we decided that if the Government of India does not send a Committee, the people will send a Committee. I then went to Tarmatar and met Netaji's elder brother and my learned friend's uncle. I asked him. 'if the people of Calcutta or the people of India agree to send a people's committee on their own, would you be a member of that Committee?' And he said, 'Yes'. I have all that correspondence with me here for inspection if anybody likes to go through it. I can place it on the Table of the Commission.

"When this decision was taken, I came back to Delhi and met the Prime Minister. I told him that the people of India had decided to send a committee to Tokyo and make enquiries about Netaji's disappearance. I asked him, 'would you kindly ask our diplomatic mission there to help us?When I made that request to Panditji, he said that it would be better if this Committee goes on behalf of the Government. And then the Committee was appointed. There was no pressure, no indication of any specific line on which the Committee was asked to conduct the inquiry. It was entirely an independent Committee as your Hon. Commission is today."

5.15 The statement of Suresh Chandra Bose in no way contradicts Shah Nawaz Khan's story. He said:

"... Prime Minister Nehru anticipated that such an enquiry would come to the finding that Netaji was not dead which he knew to be correct. So, he would be proved to be a liar for having stated that Netaji was dead. Soon after this, a few leaders held a meeting in Calcutta and said that though the Prime Minister had declared that Netaji was dead they did not believe it, and so they decided to form a Committee with me as its Chairman to make an inquiry regarding Netaji. Shri Shah Nawaz Khan was in the meeting and a copy of the resolution passed in it was given to him with a request to hand it over to me and to persuade me to give effect to the resolution passed. So, on his way to Delhi he met me at Tarmatar, Bihar and informed me all about it and told me that he would report the matter to the Prime Minister. Obviously, Shri Nehru knew that Netaji was not dead, whereby he would be branded as a liar and so appointed a 3-meri Committee with two Government officials, viz. Shri Shah Nawaz Khan who was the Parliamentary Secretary and Shri S. N. Maitra, ICS, who was the Chief Commissioner of the Andamans and Nicobar Islands, and my humble self as a non-official member taken from our family."

5.16 It will be seen that Suresh Chandra Bose is drawing inferences which are not warranted by the facts, and that the appointment of the committee by Nehru in no way implied Nehru's belief that Bose was alive. Suresh Chandra Bose could not have agreed to sit on the Committee if he had entertained any doubts regarding the genuineness of his assignment, and his freedom to act in accordance with the dictates of his conscience. The evidence was taken in the presence of all three members. All three members went to Tokyo where the statements of a number of witnesses .were recorded. Among these witnesses were some who claimed to have travelled with Bose in the plane which crashed. A doctor who claimed to have attended him on his death-bed was also examined. This evidence ostensibly pointed to Bose's death in consequence of an air crash. After the inquiry was completed, a draft document was drawn up in quintuplicate. This document was a short one and contained the principal points to which the three members of the Committee had agreed. Shah Nawaz Khan stated: "This draft was given to the members on the 30th June, 1956 and the members took it home, digested it and came the next day with any changes to be made. Shri Suresh Chandra Bose made the changes in his own hand in pen on all the five copies and then signed it in token of agreement on the frame-work on the basis of which the report was to be written." This document clearly states that all three members agreed to the finding that Bose's plane had crashed and as a result of injuries sustained by him, he had died a few hours later. A photostat copy of the "principal points" is appended to this report and it will be seen that a phrase has been added by Shri Suresh Chandra Bose in his own hand and his signature appears at the end of the document. There is no indication of any pressure having been exercised on Shri Bose before he expressed his concurrence to the conclusion regarding Netaji's death at Taihoku Airport. Subsequently, Shri Bose changed his mind and declined to sign the final draft of the report, and the majority report was placed before the parliament and published.

5.17 On the facts, therefore, there is nothing to indicate that there was anything fraudulent or stage-managed about the report from the time the Committee was appointed till the time the majority report was laid before the Parliament. Suresh Chandra Bose had been present throughout the hearings, and he had appended his signature to the principal findings upon which the report of the majority was prepared. I can not believe the story of the extremely naive and indeed stupid offer Of a governorship which Shah Nawaz Khan is alleged to have made to Suresh Chandra Bose. The latter's statement made on 4th November, 1970 is to the following effect:

"My colleagues Shri Shah Nawaz Khan and Shri Maitra could not possibly consider the evidence that was recorded because had they analysed the thing, they would have come to the finding that Netaji did not die; they were ordered to say that he had died and they did so and for which they were rewarded by Pandit Nehru — Shri Shah Nawaz Khan was made Deputy Minister of Railways at the Centre and Shri Maitra, Deputy High Commissioner, Pakistan and subsequently Ambassador of India in foreign countries. And in passing I may say, a bigger award was kept in store for me, and Mr. Khan told me in Tokyo that Mr. Bose, you can become the Governor of Bengal if you choose to. These were the very words. For the rewards which were given to Khan and to Maitra, it was quite natural for Pandit Nehru to give me some reward also, because being a brother, if I had gone against the evidence and supported the report that Netaji was dead, surely he would have given me some reward."

5.18 It is impossible to believe this story. In the first place, Suresh Chandra Bose would not have been appointed a member of the Committee at all, if it were known that he had a completely closed mind on the subject and that he believed his brother to be alive. It was for precisely this reason that a subsequent request to Nehru to name Dr. Radha Binode Pal a member of the Committee was rejected. Dr. Pal had made statement which indicated that he could not bring an impartial, unbiased and unprejudiced mind to bear on the subject. Suresh Chandra Bose was named because it was felt that, as Netaji's brother, he would be anxious to discover the truth, and take an objective view of the evidence produced before the Committee. Also, a committee of which a close relative of Netaji was a member, was expected to inspire confidence in its deliberations. Had Nehru wanted to "pack" the Committee with persons who would carry out his behests, he would not have included Suresh Chandra Bose at all. So, his very inclusion is proof of Nehru's bona fides.

5. 19 In the second place, had Nehru intended to purchase Suresh Chandra Bose's judgement, he would have sounded him before his appointment was announced, and the offer of governorship would have been made before the Committee commenced its labours. No one wishing to obtain a false verdict from a judge appoints him without any preconditions or allurements. The extremely naive and indeed stupid manner in which Shah Nawaz Khan is alleged to have made the offer of Governorship to Suresh Chandra Bose defies belief. Why should the offer have been made half way through the inquiry and, of all places, at Tokyo where witnesses claiming to have been involved in the same air-crash as Netaji and to have seen him die were produced and examined? Shah Nawaz Khan and Maitra apparently believed this evidence and acted upon it. They could not think that their colleague had taken a contrary view. In any event, a majority report would have served the purpose as well as a unanimous report. Persons charged of murder have not infrequently been convicted and hanged upon a majority verdict and Nehru could not have felt any urge to obtain Suresh Chandra Bose's consent.

5.20 There was not a word of this shameful offer of a Governorship to Suresh Chandra Bose in the Dissentient Report, though the writer was at pains to enlarge upon his grievances real or imaginary. At two places in his Report (p. 50 and p. 98) he speaks of having been subjected to a dint of influencing, persuading and coaxing by Dr. B. C. Roy, Chief Minister of West Bengal. But there is no mention of any offer of Governorship to him by Shah Nawaz Khan in Japan. This story was obviously invented much later and introduced in order to furnish some slight justification for denigrating the integrity and bona fides of Prime Minister Nehru, despite the fact that Nehru nominated to the Committee the persons who were most likely to win the respect and confidence of everyone interested in discovering and learning about Netaji.

5.21 Finally, Suresh Chandra Bose, after hearing the evidence and considering it, signed the "principle points". Paragraphs 2 and 3 of this document are significant. They read as follows:

"2. whether the plane crash did take place:
The plane carrying Netaji did crash. There is no other evidence to the contrary; the evidence should be considered carefully and in details.
3. Whether Netaji met his death as a result of this accident:
There is no reason why they should be disbelieved. After a lapse of about 10 years, these witnesses, who belong to different walks of life and to different nationalities - Habib, an Indian and subsequently a Pakistani, and the others, who are Japanese, who are mostly unconnected with one another and no longer in the service of their Government, and Japan not being a totalitarian State-would not be expected to state what was not true."

5.22 So, at that time i.e. on 2.7.1956, when Shri Suresh Chandra Bose signed this document, he agreed that the plane carrying Bose did crash and that Bose did die as a result of this accident. He even endorsed the reason for believing the witnesses. The document was signed long after the alleged offer of the governorship was made to Shri Suresh Chandra Bose. Therefore, according to Shri Suresh Chandra Bose, he rejected the insulting offer of a governorship in lieu of agreeing to sign a report confirming Netaji's death and then, later, signed the document in which he expressly and unequivocally agreed that the plane carrying Bose had crashed and Bose had met his death as result of this accident. Suresh Chandra Bose's statement before the Commission is, therefore, seen to be totally false and unbelievable. No offer of governorship could ever have been made to him. No attempt to procure a false report from him was or could have been made. Indeed, he, at the conclusion of the evidence, concurred in the finding of the other two members; but for some reason, changed his mind and resiled from his pronouncement.

5.23 From the above discussion it will be clear that there is not a shred of evidence to support the allegation that Nehru was acting in a vindictive or revengeful manner. There was no reason why he should have wanted to procure a false report about Netaji. When the Committee was appointed, Bose had been absent for more than 10 years. Nehru believed that Bose would not have remained in hiding after India became independent. Even as far back as 1946, it had been stated publicly by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel that there was no bar upon Bose's movements, and that if alive, he was free to enter India and move about as he wished.

5.24 So, it must be found that the entire allegation that Nehru was hostile to Bose and contrived to obtain a false report regarding his death as a result of an air-crash at Taihoku is without any substance.

5.25 Mr. Majumdar has, on behalf of the family of Bose, argued with considerable vehemence and persistence that the Government of India has deliberately suppressed or destroyed evidence which would have proved that Bose's name was included in the list of war criminals who were to be tried by the War Crimes Tribunal. The significance of this contention is that after the victory of the Allies and the unconditional surrender of the Japanese forces, Bose decided to remove himself from the territory occupied or under the control of, the Allies and remained hiding till such times as it became safe to make himself manifest.

5.26 Even before the public sessions of the inquiry began, I had been informed of this aspect of the case by some of the persons who interviewed me and who wished to give evidence before the Commission. I gathered that there seemed to prevail a general impression, in certain quarters, that the name of Subhas Chandra Bose was borne on the list of war criminals prepared by the Allied Forces, at the conclusion of World War II, but since it was believed that Bose had lost his life as result of injuries sustained in an air-crash on August 18, 1945, he could not be brought to trial when the International Tribunal, constituted to try 28 persons, sat in Japan. Subsequently, it began to be said that Bose had not died, and was in fact alive, but to escape the consequences of a trial on a charge of committing war crimes, he had either remained in hiding or had been prevented by his friends and well-wishers from revealing himself. Some persons expressly desired to testify before me, and asked me what the exact position was and if indeed Bose's name was, at any time, on the list of war criminals. They stated that on the answer to this question would depend whether they were in a position to state the whole truth or not. They also wanted to know if there was a list of war criminals valid and still in force and whether Bose's name was borne on this list. Another matter on which they wanted some clarification was whether the Government of India was under any obligation or international agreement, duty-bound to hand Bose over to an international body who might try him upon criminal charges.

5.27 I, therefore, addressed a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs posing the following questions:

 

    1. Was Netaji's name borne on the list of war criminals prepared at the conclusion of World War II?
    2. If so, is there such a list which is still in force, and is Netaji Bose's name on that list?
    3. Should Netaji Bose be proved to be alive, is the Government of India under any obligation to hand him over to an international body for being tried upon charges of committing war crimes?
    4. 4. What will be the Government's attitude towards the freedom of Netaji Bose, should he be found and appear in person?
    5. Was any list of War criminals maintained apart from the list which was placed before the international court which held its sittings in Japan?

 

5.28 A reply was received to this letter after a few days in which it was stated that the Home Ministry has consulted the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Defence, and all three Ministries had stated that no such information was available with them. This reply, however, did not deal with the five questions which I had referred to the Ministry, and so a fresh reference was made. In the meantime, on 24th December, 1970, Shri M. L. Sondhi, who appeared as a witness stated: "In the Tokyo verdict, Mr. Subhas Chandra Bose ranks as a War criminal." Mr. Sondhi, however, could not support his statement with any document or other material. I told Mr. Sondhi that there was no question of Bose being tried by anyone as a war criminal and that his name was not borne on any list of war criminals. To this, Shri Majumdar sought an elucidation in the following term: "May I seek one elucidation from your Lordship if you would be pleased to give that? Your Lordship has been pleased to declare that you have the authority to say and to pronounce here that neither the Tokyo verdict nor anything with regard to the war criminals' list applies to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. I shall feel extremely grateful if your Lordship will kindly elucidate the authority upon which this pronouncement was made."

5.29 I told Mr. Majumdar that I had made the statement on my own authority, and this, I thought, should be enough in view of the fact that I had been officially informed by the Ministry of Home Affairs that as far as they knew, Netaji Bose's name was not on the list of war criminals. A more detailed reply was not received to my original reference and in this reply it was stated that enquiries made from the Indian Missions in the Hague, New York and Tokyo had revealed that the name of Netaji was never borne on any list of war criminals, and therefore, questions (3) and (4) which I had posed in my first letter did not arise. Despite this, on January 20, 1971, at the sittings at Bombay, Mr. Majumdar again raised the issue. He did not categorically say that according to the information given to him, Netaji's name was, in fact, on the list of war criminals. His argument was to the effect that his name might be on that list, and the Government was not willing to assist the Commission, as fully as possible, to clarify the matter. He made a prayer that the Minister of External Affairs, Shri Swaran Singh, should be summoned as a witness, and indeed the Prime Minister should also be called to make a statement on this matter. He submitted that the Potsdam Declaration of July 20, 1945, the Instrument of Surrender signed on September 2, 1945 and the Charter of the International War Crimes Tribunal were pieces of relevant evidence which must be called in order to throw light upon the matter. He referred to certain observations in the dissenting judgement recorded by Justice Radha Binode Pal in the War Crimes Tribunal which had sat at Tokyo. There was, however, no positive affirmation by Shri Majumdar to the effect that Netaji was accused of war crimes and that this was the most important, if not the only reason, for his remaining incognito. I reiterated my belief in the correctness of the information given to me by the Ministry of Home Affairs in their letter of December 23, 1970, but Mr. Majumdar continued to persist in a demand for more evidence and denounced the Government for, as he said, concealing important evidence from this Commission.

5.30 The matter had been raised even on previous occasions. The first time it was officially mentioned was in 1956, when Starred Question No. 1939 was placed on the table of the Parliament and the reply given was that there was no question of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose being on the list of war criminals. Then on 12th September, 1962, Shri Uttam Chand Malhotra addressed a letter to Home Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri making an inquiry. The question he posed were:

 

  1. Is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose still considered a war criminal?
  2. If so, is the Government of India in any way bound to hand him over to the British Government or any other foreign government in case he is still found to be alive?
  3. If so, is there any time limit for doing this and when this time limit is going to expire?
  4. How is the Government of India going to treat him in case Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose makes an appearance.

 

A reply was sent to Shri Malhotra telling him that according to the information available with the Government of India. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's name was not included in the list of war criminals drawn up by the United Nations War Crimes Commission.

5.31 On August 22, 1963, in Starred Question No. 194, the matter was again raised in Parliament and a similar reply was given. The question and answer are quoted below:

QUESTION
194 SHRI B. D. KHOBARGADE: Will the Prime Minister be pleased to state:
(a) whether it is a fact that the name of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is still included in the list of War Criminals; and
(b) if so, what steps Government have taken to have Netaji's name removed from that list?

ANSWER
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS (SHRI DINESH SINGH)
(a) To the best of our knowledge/the name of Shri Subhas Chandra Bose does not appear in any such list. The United Kingdom High Commission in Delhi issued a statement in 1961 to the effect that his name does not appear and has never appeared in such list.
(b) Does not arise."

There was, thus, a categorical, unequivocal denial of the allegation that Bose's name was ever on any list of war criminals.

5.32 Yet a third time, the matter was raised by Shri M. L. Sondhi on December 2, 1970, when he asked whether according to the law laid down in the Tokyo Trial Verdict Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was considered a war criminal. In his reply, Shri Mirdha, Minister of State for Home Affairs, referred the questioner to the Starred question No. 1939, to which a reference has already been made above, and repeated the stand of the Government on this matter.

5.33 Even before India attained independence. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had stated in the Legislative Assembly, in reply to Starred Question No. 89, on October 30, 1946 that there were no restrictions on the movements of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and there was no ban on his return to India. This statement was made before the British rule had ended, and it is clear from this that the British Government had not declared Bose a war criminal and did not regard him one. A statement was also made by the British Deputy High Commissioner at Calcutta that Netaji was not on the list of war criminals.

5.34 There is, therefore, no evidence whatsoever to indicate that Bose's name was ever borne on any list of war criminals. There has been no specific and categorical assertion by anyone that Bose's name was on the list of war criminals. That being the state of the matter, I posed a question to Shri Majumdar on 21st December, 1973 during the course of his arguments. I asked him: "Are you making a definite allegation that Netaji's name was in fact on the list of war criminals?" Shri Majumdar did not answer this question in the affirmative and all he said was that the matter was being altogether suppressed and he, therefore, could not say categorically whether Netaji's name was on the list of war criminals or not. On my question being repeated, he replied: "I am not making any allegation. In all probability the name is there."

5.35 The matter was raised by him again the next day and I again put the same question to him. His answer was the same, as the following extract from the verbatim record of the arguments of Counsel shows:

"Chairman: When you argued yesterday, was it your case that Netaji's name is in the list of war criminals? You did not give your....
Shri Majumdar: I will tell you this. It is a question on which pertinently an investigation and an inquiry should be made.
Chairman: I must have some allegation by somebody. Are you making that allegation? Did you make the allegation at any stage? Are you making it now?
Shri Majumdar: More important point than this is, is Netaji dead or is Netaji living. It is for the Commission to make an enquiry on that point. Is that not the very basis on which the Commission was appointed?
Chairman: Is it your definite case that Netaji did not die as a result of air crash on the 18th August, 1945? Is it also your definite case that Netaji's name was borne on the list of war criminals?   .
Shri Majumdar: Might have been. Very likely.
Chairman: If it is your case, what is it based on? What is your evidence in support of it?
Shri Majumdar: Will the enquirer find it out or does the responsibility rest on me to find out for myself on the level of a private person from the intelligence report in which various belligerent powers were involved in the war.
Chairman: It was at your instance that the whole question of war criminals was brought in, in a very vague and somewhat nebulous manner.
Shri Majumdar: In conformity with the indications given by you that every Counsel will be impartial, open-minded with the sole purpose of search for truth, we expect and draw inference that Netaji did not die in the air crash, his name was in the list of war criminals. That is a positive case, and having been seen on the 17th and he had planned to give the slip to his enemies and the Allied forces and go to a place of safety where he could carry on his war, it does not require a case from me. He is living that is an inference that we can draw unless it is rebutted.

5.36 It must be remembered that Shri Majumdar was appearing on behalf of the members of the Bose family. The family has taken a strong stand against the findings of the Shah Nawaz Khan Committee, and their case is that Bose did not die in the alleged air crash of August 18, 1945. Since a definite stand was taken by them in the proceedings, it was incumbent upon their counsel positively to state the case of the Bose family, instead of which Shri Majumdar has contended himself by making a negative assertion to the effect that the Government have failed to prove that Bose's name was not on the list. It is almost as if Shri Majumdar were raising a phantom and asking the Government to destroy it, although he himself would not say that the phantom was something real and substantial which needed to be destroyed. In any event, from the evidence and the circumstances discussed above, it is abundantly clear that Netaji's name was never borne on any list of war criminals. It may be that had he been alive and had been apprehended, he would have been tried as a war criminal although it has not been alleged that what he did brought him within the mischief of the Charter of the War Crimes Tribunal. But since his death in the air crash was accepted by all concerned, there was no question, ever, of placing his name on the list of war criminals or of trying him for any war crimes. The Tribunal was appointed specifically and solely for the purpose of trying certain individuals, and as soon as the Tribunal had concluded its work, it ceased to exist and its members became functi officio. There could be no question of trying anyone else under the terms of the original charter. There has been no international agreement or subsequent charter which would bring Netaji (were he alive today) within the mischief of any war crimes tribunal. The Government of India has given no undertaking to any international body to hand Bose over to it, nor has there been any bar on his movements or his entry into India. The argument relating to Bose being accused of war crimes is, therefore, nothing but the purest conjecture, put forward not as an argument but as a piece of rhetoric and casuistry to cloud the issue and to distract attention from the real points for determination.

5.37 An argument, advanced with considerable zeal and enthusiasm, related to enquiries instituted to verify the truth of the report about Bose's death. Lord Wavell had at first been sceptical about the matter, and had recorded in his Journal that if Bose wanted to escape, a false broadcast of his death in an air crash would be just what the Japanese would contrive.

5.38 Within a month of the broadcast, the Government of the India , deputed a team of policemen to go to South-East Asia to make an on-the-spot enquiry about Bose. The team, headed by Superintendent of Police Finney, and assisted by a wireless operator Davies, and Inspectors of Police A. K. Roy and Kalipada Dey, flew to Burma in the beginning of September 1945, and thence proceeded to Bangkok, where a number of persons were interrogated and the files of the British Military Mission were studied. A visit was also paid to Saigon, but the team could not proceed further to make enquiries at Taipei, because arrangements for their transport could not be made. The team prepared a consolidated report which was submitted to the Government of India. Finney, Davies and A. K. Roy were not available, when the present inquiry was held, but Kalipada Dey appeared as a witness before the Commission and narrated the story of the investigation and the substance of the report submitted by the team. Copies of three reports bearing Finney's signatures, dated respectively 5-10-1945, 10-10-1945 and 12-10-1945 and one report signed by Davies dated 7-10-1945, have been supplied to the Commission by the Intelligence Bureau.

5.39 Another independent inquiry was held by the Counter Intelligence Corps, General Headquarters, United States Army Forces. The report of this investigation was submitted by Lt. Col. Figgess on 8-10-1945, followed by a letter dated 17-11-1945. The report was based on the interrogation of Habibur Rahman. With the letter were sent five photographs which had been supplied by the Japanese Government. Three of the photographs depicted the wreckage of the aircraft in which Bose was alleged to have been involved, one depicted Habibur Rahman with his face and hand bandaged, sitting on a chair in the hospital at Taipei, and done showed an unidentifiable body or object covered with a sheet. Copies of the report dated 8-10-1945, letter dated 17-11-1945 and the five photographs have also been made available to the Commission, but neither Lt. Col. Figgess nor any other member of the Counter Intelligence Corps could be traced and summoned to give evidence in person.

5.40 There was a yet third enquiry by the Combined Services Detailed Intelligence Centre (CSDIC). In the course of this enquiry B. C, Chakravarty (Witness No. 168) interrogated a number of persons including Habibur Rahman in the month of December, 1945. On the basis of Chakravarty's interrogation, a consolidated report was prepared by four officers of the Centre. A copy of a report purporting to have been drawn up by the C.S.D.I.C. and covering 25 closely typed foolscap pages, appended to the record of interrogation, has been made available to the Commission.

5.41 The argument raised by Counsel is that no one and, in particular, not even the authorities of the Government of India, believed the story of the crash, and that was the only reason why they ordered enquiries to be made into the truth of this report. From this, Counsel sought to infer that the story of the crash was most certainly false and Bose did not die in the air crash. The argument, therefore, is of a negative nature and borrows support from non-existent material. It is, however, necessary briefly to examine the significance and relevance of these three enquiries.

5.42 Kalipada Dey (Witness No. 5) was an Inspector of Police attached to the Intelligence Bureau of the Government of India in 1945. His story is that a team of Police officers headed by Superintendent of Police T.S. Finney was sent to verify the report of Bose's death. When questioned about the instructions given to him by Mr. Finney, Dey stated: "So far as I can remember, he gave us instructions to make enquiries whether he is dead or alive." Shri Dutt Majumdar, Advocate, pursued the matter further, and put the following question to him: "Inspector Dey, as an experienced and intelligent officer of British Intelligence in India, will you please tell the learned Commission whether it is not a fact that between September and November when you were deputed, the British Government thought and believed that Netaji was somewhere in hiding in South-East Asia and, therefore, you were sent out to identify him, if you could, and to effect his arrest. Is not that so?" Dey answered quite clearly, "No, to investigate regarding his death". The team also received a copy of the Japanese message sent by wireless and the message was to the effect that the plane which left Saigon and crashed at Taihoku aerodrome and Netaji had died. The witness went on to say that the substance of the police report was that Netaji had died due to air crash at Taihoku on the 18th August. This is borne out by the copy of the report supplied to the Commission. The witness said that some of the records of the enquiry were destroyed in his presence. This may have been done by the British authorities before they handed over the reins of Government to the Indian leaders in 1947. But since we have the primary evidence of Dey, the man who conducted the investigation and prepared the report, the destruction of any document is a matter of no consequence whatsoever. The sworn testimony of Dey, corroborated by the copy of his report supplied to us, leaves no doubt whatsoever that there was no question of disbelieving the report of the crash or any concealment of evidence; and the Government of India quite naturally wanted to verify the report of the death of an important individual who was, to boot, a stern and uncompromising opponent of the British Raj. The enquiry merely confirmed the news which had been originally broadcast.

5.43 The evidence of Sasadhar Majumdar (Witness No. 7) furnishes further corroboration of Dey's evidence. He says that he met Finney, after the latter returned from South-East Asia, and asked him what was the conclusion of the investigations carried out by him. The witness went on to say: "Mr. Finney said, in one or two sentences, that to the extent it was humanly possible to draw a conclusion, they were satisfied with regard to both the Army and the Civilian investigation that Netaji was dead." There was nothing in Majumdar's statement which casts doubt on the reliability of Dey's evidence or of the documentary material supplied by the Intelligence Branch.

5.44 Not much need be said about the second inquiry conducted at the instance of the United States Armed Forces Counter Intelligence. The report prepared by Lt. Col. Figgess was based on the record of Habibur Rahman's interrogation carried out by the C.S.D.I.C. to which a detailed reference will presently be made. Figgess did not appear as a witness in the present inquiry, and so the report prepared by .him had little probative value. In any event, it is a piece of secondary evidence. Finally, there is nothing in the report to contradict or rebut the story of the air crash at Taihoku. The account of Bose's death, given by Habibur Rahman, was accepted as true. The five photographs submitted with Figgess' letter of November 17, 1945, were produced before the Shah Nawaz Khan Committee and form part of the record of its proceedings. The same five photographs were produced before the present Commission, but they are not being relied upon, as in the absence of Habibur Rahman who alone could have testified to what they depict, they cannot be held to have been proved. Moreover, they are inadmissible in evidence as they do not constitute direct or primary evidence either of the aircrash or of Bose's death.

There is, thus nothing in the report of the Counter Intelligence to cast doubt on the story of the happenings at Taihoku as narrated by Bose's co-passengers and Dr. Yoshimi.

5.45 The third inquiry, as already stated, was carried out almost entirely by Shri B.C.Chakraborty (Witness No. 168), who interrogated a number of persons including Habibur Rahman, and prepared a consolidated report after discussing the whole matter with his colleagues.

5.46 Chakraborty was a member of the Indian Police Force who was deputed to the War department of the Government of India during World War II and attached to the Combined Services Detailed Intelligence Centre (CSDIC), a global organisation of which Col. Stevenson was the local Commander.

5.47 The sum and substance of Chakraborty's evidence is that in December, 1945, he interrogated Habibur Rahman and a number of other persons. He also scrutinised some Intelligence Reports made available to the Centre. The transcripts of the interrogation and the Intelligence Reports were examined and discussed by the witness and three other officers, and then a consolidated report was drawn up and submitted to the C.S.D.I.C.

5.48 Shri Chakraborty said that he entertained grave doubts about the truth of Habibur Rahman's story, and he embodied these doubts in the final report. He said: "after analysing all the reports that were in hand at the time in the C.S.D.I.C, it was obvious that Col. Habibur Rahman told lies or the Japanese Government concealed facts. Their reply was nothing other than a product to conspiracy regarding the movements of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on August 18, 1945."

5.49 He was asked if the British Military Intelligence or the Allied Command had come to any conclusions about Netaji's death or escape, his reply was: "None of them believed that this information could be correct because of the various discrepancies in the reports and specially the notes pointing out the discrepancies by me and also by other officers."

"Q: What was the substance or the conclusion about the alleged air crash and Netaji's alleged death which was conveyed to London?
A: I will answer as far as I have written and not as far as I have heard. After recording the statement of Habibur Rahman, I myself recorded the answers he gave on cross-examination. I asked him, why he was not anxious to see the face of the dead leader when the doctors announced that Netaji died on the operation table. His answer was that he was not allowed to stand there for long. Secondly, when he was told that the body would be carried to the furnace, I asked him, "was it not your duty as the second in command of the INA to accompany the dead to the furnace?" To this, he looked at my face and could not give me any answer. He jumped at his feet and shouted, "I can say with Koran in hand that I was not allowed to accompany the dead from the operation table to the furnace". Thirdly, when on the following morning i.e. on 19th August, 1945 morning, a colonel of the Japanese Army and a doctor of the Japanese Base hospital handed over to him a brass pot saying that this pot contained the ashes of Netaji he could not forward a pertinent answer. He admitted that his only duty was to hand it over to the Commander of the INA, Gen. Bhonsle. Fourthly, when I asked him, "under whose advice you had been to Tokyo to carry the ashes", he did not give any reply. When I questioned him that he was hiding in Tokyo instead of trying to communicate the information of the death of one of the leading statesmen of our country, he remained mum, he did not give any answer".
Q: Did it occur to you to ask Col. Habibur Rahman that when both of them were in the same plane how Col. Rahman escaped with minor injury and Netaji was alleged to have been burned?
A: I did not ask him this question. But I can explain your question. When the body is rather bulky the impact of a crash is more serious on the bulky side. However, Col. Rahman stands on his own statement. There is nobody to say or to contradict what he said."
Q: Am I right or am I wrong that at the time there was no conclusive evidence?
A: Yes, not at all. The only available evidence was the statement of Lt. Col. Habibur Rahman. When he was subjected to questions he failed to give pertinent answers to all the questions. The question was that he was not delivering the truth."
Q: May I take it, Mr. Chakraborty, that when you submitted your report on 30th December, 1945, you covered the entire episode of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose?
A: I submitted the report to the Command on the 30 th December, 1945, evening. I sat with three officers at Bahadurgarh. These reports, including the statements I recorded, were combined and a summary report was prepared. This summary report was scrutinised by the officers. There was one from England; I do not know his name. He was also there. After a thorough scrutiny and after pointing out the defects in the statement a forwarding note was also prepared.
Q: Did the report cover the incidents in regard to Netaji right up to the time of the alleged aircrash?
A: Probably this covered their movements for the last three months and the collapse and surrender of the Japanese. There were a few lines here and there which have bearing on the main report but I do not remember those details. If you ask me a specific question perhaps I can say something. This report which I made and which should be available with the Government of England was a very lengthy one covering all the details including the substance of the statements of different important personages of INA."
Q: Now leaving aside the report, let me ask you if you did see Col. Rahman's hands?
A: Yes, In my younger days when I was in school and college I saw him in 1928 and also when he was the G. O. C. in the Congress Volunteers at Exhibition Road. I was then in the St. Xavier’s' Hostel in 1929.
Q: I am not asking you about Netaji, I am asking you about Col. Habibur Rahman?
A: Oh, yes, I have seen his face.
Q: Did you see his hands?
A: Yes, I examined the burns of his hands, I got the medical report and I got the report tested by another and re-tested by another surgeon."

This is what he has to say about the theft of the watch.

"Q: Did he tell you that he had brought a watch that Netaji was wearing during the last fateful days?
A: Yes, that watch was stolen from Col. Rahman. This was Netaji's souvenir and it was given to him at the Taihoku airport after the accident
Q: But before being stolen, did you see the watch?
A: I cannot recollect, there was so much talk about it. I am carrying only an impression in my mind as if I saw the watch.
Q: Can you say whether the watch was round or rectangular?
A: I cannot tell you that.
Q: In his statement did Col. Habibur Rahman give any description of the watch?
A: I did not ask him about the size and shape of the watch.
Q: Can you give us an idea as to how long after finishing the interrogation of Col. Habibur Rahman the watch was stolen?
A: I cannot say, I do not remember. But I am sure it was stolen."

5.51 At the time this statement was made the file relating to the inquiry instituted by the C.S.D.I.C. had not been sent to the Commission. It seems to have been thought that the file was not available. Indeed, Shri Dutt Majumdar questioned the witness on the point:

"Q: You are an extremely knowledgeable person and so I am asking you to kindly give us the information that supposing the Hon'ble Inquiry Commission wants to requisition and call for a copy of your Report of 75 pages, I understand submitted then, as also such other statements, who should be requisitioned through Government of India for production of the same?
A: The then secretary, War Officer, London. C.S.D.LC. was not under the control of the officers of India, and since war was over, it was disbanded, and personally I think that such important things were not left behind by the officers who were working in the C.S.D.LC. May be, a few statements, not so important, were left with the Government of India."

The non-receipt of the file appears to have lent a measure of boldness, bordering on recklessness, to Shri Chakraborty's conduct when he made his deposition before the Commission, for he anticipated little risk of contradiction of the statements he made. But the file containing a lengthy and detailed record of the interrogation carried out by the C.S.D.LC. and a 25-page closely typed report, was subsequently made available to the Commission, and I have no doubt at all that this is the material collected by Shri Chakraborty and the material on which he professes to base his doubts and his disbeliefs of the crash story. But, because the report covers 25 foolscap pages and not 75, Shri Mukhoty and Shri Dutt Majumdar have argued that this is not Chakraborty's report. The real report is alleged to have been deliberately withheld because it did not affirm the truth of the crash story. On this assertion was built up a formidable edifice of the Government's mala fide and deliberate suppression of evidence from the Commission. Thence proceeded a vociferously argued contention that, to the knowledge of the Government of India; Bose did not die of injuries sustained in an aircrash, and the Government did not want the truth to receive publicity.

5.52 When examined, this argument is seen to be nothing but a string of false assumptions and nonsequiturs. The file containing the record of the interrogation carried out by Chakraborty, and his report was produced before the Commission by an officer of the Government and I have carefully pursued the long interrogation as well as the report. This report is dated 31-12- 1945, the date mentioned by Shri Chakraborty in the course of his statement before the Commission. The report purported to have been submitted to the C.S.D.LC. as alleged by the witness. The report may well have covered 75 pages when written in long hand on a small sized paper. Shri Chakraborty has not explained what was the size of the paper he used and whether the report was handwritten or in typed script. In fact the figure of 75 was put to the witness by Shri Majumdar. It is difficult to believe that two such lengthy reports were prepared on the same date and submitted to the same authority. I, therefore, do not accept Counsel's contention that the report has been withheld. I treat the report in the file before the Commission as the report which Shri Chakraborty claims to have prepared.

5.53 The contents of the file speak for themselves as they are exactly what Shri Chakraborty described in the course of his statement. The record of the statement made by Habibur Rahman does not contain the contradictions and discrepancies mentioned by Shri Chakraborty in the course of his statement quoted above. Nor does the report prepared by him contain any mention of any doubt entertained by Shri Chakraborty. Let me quote the relevant portion of Shri Habibur Rahman's statement from the file:

"At about 1400 hrs. the bomber reached Taihoku (Formosa) airfield where it refuelled and the passengers had lunch. No Indian was there to meet them and neither did Bose interview anyone there. While having lunch Bose mentioned casually to B1269, in Hindustani, that he hoped the Japanese would make arrangements for the rest of the party to come in time, and not disappoint them, as they had done previously at the time of his return from Tokyo. After a stay of about half an hour at the airfield, the bomber took off again. Before B1269 and Bose entered the plane, the engine had been started and the crew were all in their places. About 5 minutes after taking off, and when the plane had reached an altitude of about 300 ft., B1269 heard a very loud noise which resembled cannon fire, coming from the direction of the nose of the plane. B1269 thought at the time that the plane had been attacked. The aircraft appeared to lose flying speed and crashed almost immediately afterwards, hitting the ground on its nose. The engines as well as the rear of the plane were on fire, B1269 saw Bose attempting to move towards the rear of the plane, but on B1269's suggestion, Bose changed his course and moved towards the front. The celluloid cover above the pilot's position had burst open. Some of the Japanese passengers reached the aperture before B1269 and Bose, and crawling through it, dropped to the ground. The aperture was open to the left side of the plane. Bose then crawled through and was followed by B1269. In doing so the flames were coming from the front and B1269's face was burned on the right side (Bl269 carries obvious marks of recent burning and scorching on the whole right side of his face). Alighting on the ground and collecting his wits, B1269 noticed Bose in a standing position about 12 yards away with smoke coming from his garments. Bose was endeavouring to remove his clothes. B1269's clothes were not on fire. B1269 rushed towards Bose to help him and finally succeeded in beating out the flames. In doing so, B1269 received severe burns on both his hands (his hands are still bleached and scarred).
Bose had sustained serious burns all over his body, and when he was laid on the ground, B1269 noticed 2 or 3 fractures on the skull. Bose lay for a while on the ground quiet with eyes closed. His last words were in Hindustani, "I feel that I shall die. I have fought for Indian Independence until the last. Tell my countrymen, India will be free before long. Long live Independent India." B1269 had seen only one Japanese (probably a Capt.) sitting on boulder near the plane with bleeding injuries on his head. Besides burns on the hands, B1269's face was slightly burnt on the right side, and he also received two minor wounds on the head and one lacerated wound on the right leg below the knee.
Within 10 minutes, a First Aid party arrived in lorries, and Bose and B1269 were removed in one of the lorries to the Army Hospital a short distance from the scene of accident. Among others injured who came to the hospital (some before B1269 and others after) were a pilot, a Lt. Col., a Major and Lt. or Capt. B 1269 later heard that Gen. SHIDEI, the wireless operator, one of the members of the air crew and the Japanese Air Force officer had died. The Japanese Gen. had been killed instantaneously. But B1269 remained with Bose from the time of the crash until the death of Bose at about 2100 hrs that night Tokyo time. Bose was treated for his burns and several injections were administered by 3 or 4 Japanese doctors who attended him. B1269 does not know the names of the hospital staff. Whilst in hospital, Bose regained consciousness from time to time and uttered a few words, sometimes suggesting that he be given injections. Some Japanese military officers came to the hospital and made enquiries from time to time about Bose's condition. When the doctors announced Bose's death to these officers, B1269 requested them to send news to Bangkok and Singapore about the accident. Bose's body was kept in the room where he died, and B1269 remained there all the night together with Japanese guards and some patients."

B1269 is the code number used for Habibur Rahman.

5.54 The file contains a note to the effect that B1269 bears marks of burns on the face and on both hands, two slight scars in the head and one mark of an injury on the right leg below the knee. There is another note which reads as follows:

"When asked to explain why Subhas Chandra Bose was badly burnt and he himself was not, B1269 stated that Bose's clothes may have been drenched in petrol, as Bose sat under a petrol tank in the plane. Bose's clothes were of light weight K.D. B1269 wore knee-boots, serge breeches and a serge tunic: his clothes were not burnt at all (he wears them now at CS.D.LC.(I)".

The report also mentions that at Bose's cremation there were about 30 Japanese medical and military officers present.

"B1269 does not recollect any of their names. B1269 states that he was the only Indian present at the time. About half an hour after the body had been set alight, B1269 left the crematorium with the others....B1269 carried with him the wooden box containing the ashes of Bose, the two photographs of Bose taken on the 21st August 1945, three photographs of the wrecked plane and a rectangular wrist gold watch with a leather strap."

5.55 Thus, the statement Habib made in the course of his interrogation did not contain any of the discrepancies which Chakraborty mentions in the course of his statement. Mention of the five photographs which were later produced before the Shah Nawaz Khan Committee was wholly omitted by Shri Chakraborty when he testified before the Commission. We may now quote a passage from the conclusions set out in the report:

"The main interest in connection with B1269's case lies in the fact that he was the only Indian present at the time Subhas Chandra Bose met with a fatal accident when the plane carrying them crashed soon after taking off from Taihoku aerodrome on 18th August, 1945. B1269 has furnished convincing details that Bose there met his death and was cremated in Taihoku in the presence of several witnesses. If further proof were required these Japanese witnesses might also be located and examined if this has not already been done".

5.56 The file, therefore, gives the lie direct to Shri Chakraborty's evidence in the present inquiry. Shri Chakraborty's statement appears to have been made in the hope that the file would not be forthcoming and there would be no material to contradict his testimony.

5.57 The files and reports to which reference has been made above are not more than secondary evidence, the probative value of which cannot compete with what primary evidence yields. Their significance, however, lies in two circumstances. In the first place, these documents were prepared officially by an agency directed to find out the truth and not serve a partisan cause or purpose, nor to make a tendentious report. The Government of India and the Army authorities wanted to know what had happened, and deputed their trusted and reliable officers to enquire, to interrogate individuals and submit the conclusions of their investigation. These officers made direct enquiries, not lending a credulous ear to rumour and gossip. The officers knew that they would be judged by the measure of their competence and honesty in conducting the business entrusted to them. They did not want to, indeed, they did not dare to invent sensational, unwarranted or unsupported stories of deep intrigues, miraculous escapes and fantastic encounters.

5.58 Secondly, these records were prepared at a very early stage, soon after the occurrences to which they related, when the memories of the persons who spoke about them were fresh, when they had not been influenced by emotional, political or chauvinistic pressures which came into operation in increasing measure, with the passage of time when imaginary or wishful accounts of Bose's disappearance and reappearance began to be related and circulated. Of such nature are Uttam Chand Malhotra's and Dixit's narratives of their strange adventure in the Shaulmari Ashram, Satyanarayan Sinha's flight of imagination and the conjectures of Netaji Mystery by Goswami.

5.59 I, therefore, find that there is no force in Counsel's argument that the Government of India have deliberately suppressed or destroyed evidence which has a significant bearing on the matters under inquiry. All files have been made available to the Commission, although the contents of these files are strictly speaking, not admissible in evidence. At any rate, the contents do go to rebut the Counsel's contention that doubts were always entertained about Bose's death and that there is material in official records which disproves the story of the aircrash. These files, if they were admissible, would have corroborated the story of the aircrash, but I do not propose to use them for this purpose. At the same time, I cannot hold that there is anything in these files which contravenes the story of the crash or rebuts the evidence of the witnesses who have deposed to it.