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)

9. Findings

.1 The conclusions arrived at in the preceding chapters may now be set down as the findings of the Commission.

 

  1. Bose was informed on August 12, 1945, that the war was about to conclude and the Japanese had decided to surrender to the Allied Forces. He was at that time at Seremban. The message was brought to him there by Negishi (Witness No. 50).
  2. Bose at once left for Singapore where he discussed his future plans with his colleagues and the Ministers of his Cabinet, almost day and night. The decision was taken on the 14th when Sakai arrived and conferred with Bose. It was decided that Bose himself should leave Singapore and try to escape to Russia where he hoped to find asylum.
  3. On the morning of 16-8-1945, Bose left Singapore accompanied by Col. Habibur Rahman, S. A. Iyer (Witness No. 29), a Japanese Liaison Officer Negishi (Witness No. 50), Col. Pritam Singh (Witness No. 155) and others. The party arrived at Bangkok at 3.30 P.M. and spent the night there.
  4. At about 8 P.M. on 17-8-1945, Bose and party left by two planes for Saigon. Bose's party included Col. Habibur Rahman, Deb Nath Das (Witness No. 3), S. A. Iyer (Witness No. 29) Hachia (Witness No. 51) Ishoda (Witness No. 68), Gulzara Singh (Witness No. 153), Col. Pritam Singh (Witness No. 155), Abid Hassan (Witness No. 157) and others. The party arrived at Saigon at 11 A.M.
  5. The planes in which Bose and his party had travelled to Saigon had to go back, and fresh arrangements had to be made for the next stage of the journey. Bose was informed that one seat could be given to him in a Japanese bomber which had come from Manila and was going to Dairen in Manchuria. The plane, Bose was informed, had, on board, a number of Japanese army officers who had been posted to Manchuria and who could not be left behind.
  6. Bose was very upset on hearing this, because he wanted to carry all the members of his party with him. Ishoda and Hachia were sent to Dalat where Field Marshal Terauchi was camping. These two emissaries could not see Tarauchi personally, but his Adjutant told them that it might be possible to make available two or three seats in all for Bose.
  7. Ishoda and Hachia returned to Saigon and conferred with the pilot of the plane and the Japanese military authorities there. The conclusion was that two seats were placed at the disposal of Bose.
  8. After some discussion, Bose decided to avail himself of the two seats, and asked Habibur Rahman to accompany him.
  9. The Japanese bomber left Saigon at approximately 5 P.M. carrying Bose, Habibur Rahman. Lt. Col. Sakai (Witness No. 47), S. Nonogaki (Witness No. 53), Taro Kono, Navigator (Witness No. 63), Takahashi (Witness No. 65), the pilot in charge Takizawa, Genl. Shidei, second pilot Ayogi, all three of whom were killed and some others, whose names need not be mentioned. They were the crew and other officers posted to Manchuria, or to Tokyo.
  10. The plane arrived at Tourane at 7.45 P.M. and the party spent the night there.
  11. On the morning of 18-8-1945 the bomber left Tourane carrying the previous complement of crew and passengers and arrived at Taipei in Formosa at 2 P.M.
  12. The party had a snack lunch at Taipei while the pilot attended to a snag, which he declared, had been corrected, after a short while.
  13. The plane took off 2.35 P.M. but within a few seconds one of the engines flew out and the plane crashed near the fringe of the Taihoku airfield. The body of the plane broke into two parts and caught fire.
  14. The pilot Takizawa and Genl. Shidei were killed inside the plane. The rest of the crew and passengers came out, but all of them had sustained burn injuries, two of them viz. Ayoagi and Bose had received very severe burns.
  15. The injured persons were carried to the army hospital a few kilometers from the airfield and given medical treatment.
  16. Bose had sustained burn injuries of the third degree and despite the efforts of the doctors to revive him, he succumbed to his injuries the same night.
  17. Of the other injured persons Ayoagi, the second pilot also died.
  18. Two days later, Bose's body was cremated and his ashes were carried to Tokyo in the beginning of September, 1945 where they were deposited in the Renkoji Temple.
  19. There is no reason for believing that the relations between Nehru and Bose were anything but friendly on a personal basis. Political differences between them did not lessen Bose's great respect for Nehru and Nehru's affection for the younger politician whose patriotism no one questioned.
  20. There is not the slightest evidence of any attempt by Nehru to suppress the truth about Bose at any stage or to make false statements about his death at Taihoku on August 18, 1945. His concession to a public demand for enquiry was an instance of his compliance with democratic procedures and not an admission of his disbelief in the truth of the crash story.
  21. The personnel of the Committee appointed by Nehru's government to enquire into Bose's disappearance is ample evidence of his bona fides. He appointed Bose's brother, who could be presumed to make an earnest search for truth about his brother and whose appointment would win public confidence. The Chairman was Shah Nawaz Khan, who was a close associate and confidant of Bose and who had taken a very prominent part in I.N.A.'s campaign against the British. Shah Nawaz Khan could, therefore, be depended upon to conduct the enquiry honestly and conscientiously. The third member was Shri S. N. Maitra, a member of the I.C.S. and a Bengali. He was chosen because of his administrative experience, his proved integrity and his attachment to Bose who belonged to his own State.
  22. There is no evidence of any attempt by the present government to withhold evidence or place impediments in the way of this Commission. All documents called for have been supplied and the delay occasioned in making some files and documents available cannot be construed as placing obstacles in the progress of the enquiry. Such delays are a normal feature of government red-tape and pre-occupation with more urgent matters.
  23. Bose had impressed the Japanese as a great patriot and a competent administrator could win the confidence of Indians in South-East Asia. The Japanese, however, looked upon him not as an equal ally, but as a person whom they could use for their own ends. It was with great reluctance that they allowed Bose to organise the Burma campaign against the British forces. The Japanese, however, did not give adequate assistance to the I.N.A., and despite promises, they did not hand over the occupied territory to the Provisional Government of Azad Hind. An instance in point was the Nicobar and Andaman Islands, the administration of which was not completely entrusted to Maj. General Loganadhan, who was sent as High Commissioner by Bose to take charge of the Islands. All the evidence points to the fact that the Japanese neither had complete confidence in Bose's ability to lead a large army and secure victories over the Allied Forces, nor did they fully trust him. They nevertheless, had considerable respect for him because they saw that he was a man of remarkable courage and unquestioned patriotism.
  24. The Japanese attitude towards Bose underwent a change when the war concluded. The Japanese were more concerned with trying to retrieve whatever they could of their own resources than with giving large-scale help to Bose which would have proved detrimental to their own interests. Also the blow to their self-esteem was so violent that they became indifferent to Bose and his future plans.
  25. The numerous stories about encounters with Bose at various times and various places after 1945, are completely false and unacceptable. They are the result either of hallucination helped by wishful thinking or have been invented by persons who wanted to draw attention to themselves and advertise themselves as public-spirited men.

 

9.2 The determination of the findings set down above brings this inquiry to its conclusion. Before I take leave of the matter, I must place in record my appreciation of the assistance rendered by the large number of the individuals and organisations who have assisted me at all stages of this long and sometimes arduous undertaking. It is not possible to mention all names, but I am conscious of a sense of gratitude to many who are not specifically named, but who greatly facilitated my task in India and abroad. The readiness with which witnesses in Japan, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan came forward to give evidence was most gratifying. There are also others who rendered much assistance to me. The counsel appearing in the inquiry deserve my thanks for their courtesy and their sense of duty. I should particularly like to express my appreciation of the assistance rendered by Shri A. P. Chakraborty, who conducted himself completely in accordance with the highest traditions of the Bar, always courteous, always well prepared, always acting with a high sense of integrity and always willing to render real assistance to the Commission. I must also express my gratitude to the late Shri T. R. Bhasin, Counsel for the Commission, whose hard work and impartial summing up were of inestimable value to me. He was ably assisted by his junior Shri S. B. Wad.

9.3 I am beholden to the Commission's staff for their unstinted services at all times and more particularly when the pressure of work subjected them to not a little strain. This strain fell more particularly upon the stenographers and typists who had to work for long hours and type out a voluminous record and a long report. Without their co-operation and help it would not have been possible to conduct this -inquiry and complete this report.

JUNE 30, 1974.                  G. D. KHOSLA

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