On October 14 last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the family of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose – and the country – that files held with the Centre on the legendary freedom fighter will be declassified on his birthday on January 23, 2016.
Process of declassification of files relating to Netaji will begin on 23rd January 2016, Subhas Babu’s birth anniversary.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 14, 2015
Tomorrow will be the 119th birth anniversary of Subhash Chandra Bose and the government is all set to declassify 33 of the files it has in its possession. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be releasing the files on the premises of the National Archives at Janpath in New Delhi.
The pressure on declassifying files related to Netaji began when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declassified 63 files in possession with the Bengal government in September 2015.
A reading of those files confirmed, among others, the fact that the Nehru government had indeed ordered a snooping on Bose’s nephews. It is expected therefore that the files in possession with the Centre will throw more light on the mystery surrounding the death of India’s most loved son.
Anuj Dhar, India’s leading Bose researcher and author of two books on the leader, said that the files released by the Centre will hit many prominent people holding high positions other than Nehru.
But since the Centre is not releasing all the files in its possession, the veil over the mystery on whether he died in the plane crash might still remain.
According to official record, Netaji died in a plane crash on August 18, 1945 in Taiwan. But that stand has been disputed by Netaji researchers and admirers.
So, as India gets ready to discover what the files with the Centre contain, let us take a look at what we know so far from the files released by the Bengal government.
1. The declassified Bengal government files confirmed that Jawaharlal Nehru did indeed order the IB to snoop on Netaji’s nephew’s Amiya Nath Bose and Sisir Kumar Bose. They did so for 20 years till 1967.
2. In a letter dated September 18, 1941, addressed to Mr Ohta, Chancellor of the Japanese Consulate in then Calcutta, Sisir Bose sought money and arms to raise an army of 50,000 with Japanese assistance.
“We have 10,000 men ready to immediately take up arms. We can raise the number of 50,000 within a few months of getting the money and the arms we want. Please let me know when we may expect the arms we want and if you can arrange for the money we want through any other channel. This is very important and very urgent,” the letter said.
3. Dr Lily Abegg, a war correspondent and Swiss journalist, wrote to Sarat Chandra Bose in 1949 that as per her Japanese and other sources, Netaji had not perished in the so-called plane crash.
4. An intercepted letter written to Netaji’s nephew Amiya Nath Bose by an information and broadcasting ministry official in 1948 seems to suggest that the Subhash Chandra Bose was in Nanking, China, at the time. Netaji’s grandnephew and Amiya Nath’s son, Chandra Bose says the letter might have been written in reply to an enquiry made by his father regarding the same.
5. File number 63 contains a letter written by Sisir Kumar Bose to his aunt Emilie Schenkl, Netaji’s widow, in Vienna. It is dated June 1953. Combined with other evidences, it appears that communication between Sisir Bose and Schenkl continued until 1972.
6. A letter written by Sisir Kumar Bose to Tatsuo Hayashida, the Japanese author of the book, ‘Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: His great struggle and martyrdom’, was intercepted on August 20, 1965. Bose recounts that Dr Satya Narayan Sinha, a member of the parliament and former Indian Foreign Service officer, had said that the erstwhile Formosa government had documents that created doubts regarding Netaji’s death.