West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee became the first government representative to say that she believed Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was alive after 1945.
“There are certain letters where many have said that Netaji was alive after 1945,” she said.
The Bengal government’s politically intelligent move of declassifying 64 documents relating to one of India’s greatest patriots on September 18 has put tremendous pressure on the Central Government.
Fulfilling a longstanding demand by Netaji’s family members and researchers, the original files consisting 12,744 pages and containing many intriguing facts were unveiled at the Calcutta Police Museum while digitalised version of the copies were handed over to Netaji’s descendants and media persons at a ceremony attended by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The files were maintained by the special branch of the city as well as the state police and date back to the 1930s.
Calling upon the Narendra Modi government at the Centre to follow suit and publicise secret documents, Banerjee asked, “If there is nothing to hide, why is the Centre not declassifying (the files)?”
“There are mentions here and there about Netaji after 1945 which indicate that he might have been alive (after the alleged Taihoku crash). People should know the truth. Let the central government declassify the files on Netaji. Let good sense prevail. You cannot suppress the truth. Let the truth come out,” TOI reported Banerjee as saying.
Anuj Dhar, a prominent Netaji researcher, claims that the files released by the Bengal government do not contain anything significant and that the most earth-shattering secrets lie in the classified files in possession of the Centre.
The most crucial of the declassified documents is a Howrah CID report quoting British and US intelligence reports that Netaji was alive after 1945 and “might have undertaken training in Russia”.
The declassified files also confirm that Netaji and his family were spied upon for 20 years since 1948 by the IB under orders from Jawaharlal Nehru.
“I have seen the documents, it is clear… the family of Netaji was spied upon,” said Banerjee.
Netaji’s grandnephew and family spokesperson Chandra Kumar Bose said that the CM’s comments are significant since they now have an official confirmation that Bose was alive after 1945.
“By keeping the files (on Netaji) under secrecy for 70 years, some leaders have betrayed the country. It is the duty of the central government to declassify the files in their possession and expose them.”
A section of family members and researchers will be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October over the issue.
They will also urge the PM to approach the Russian and British governments for declassifying files on Netaji by their respective spy agencies.
While the Centre will now be mulling over declassification of Netaji files in its possession, Mamata Banerjee may have scored a political point over the Modi government.
As Bengal heads to polls next year, the declassification has brought Mamata’s government closer to the people, who are sensitive about Netaji death conspiracy. She has also been praised by the Forward Bloc, a party founded by Netaji and an ally of Mamata’s political rival, the CPM, in Bengal.
An August 22, 1945, Tokyo Radio announced the ‘death’ of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in an air crash in Formosa (now Taiwan) on August 18, 1945, en route to Japan.
The crash theory was upheld by three of the four enquiry commissions set up after Bose’s death – Figgess Report 1946, Shah Nawaz Committee 1956, and Khosla Commission 1970.
The Mukherjee Commission 1999-2005, however, concluded that the ashes believed to be of Netaji at the Renkoji Temple in Japan were in fact of a Japanese soldier named Ichiro Okura.
The report was tabled in the Indian Parliament on May 17, 2006 but the UPA government rejected the findings without assigning any reason.