Nearly 70 years after the plane crash that supposedly killed Freedom Fighter Subhas Chandra Bose, a British website, set up to catalogue the last days of Netaji, has released what it claims are eyewitness accounts of the day he was reportedly killed in a plane crash in Taiwan (August 18, 1945).
To establish the facts, the documents quote several people who were reportedly involved in the matter related to the accident as well as two British intelligence reports that revisited the crash site.
Habib-ur-Rehman Khan, who was Subhas Chandra Bose’s co-passenger on that flight, reportedly told the investigating committee in 1956 that he saw that Bose’s clothes “on fire” after their plane had crashed on August 18, 1945.
Khan had said that that their plane crashed in Taipei and burst into flames, and that Bose did not survive the crash. The report then further reveals Bose’s final few words to Khan after their plane had burst into flame.
Though Khan passed away in 1978, the news about his testimony was revealed by a senior London based journalist Ashis Ray, who posted the report as part of an archival documents on a website.
The documents reveal that Khan’s testimony was given to a three-member Netaji Inquiry Committee that was instituted by the Indian government in 1956 and it makes it clear that Netaji died in 1945 plane crash.
Khan, after the crash had gone on to become Pakistan’s additional defence secretary post Partition, and in 1956 had spoken about the crash to a panel which was headed by Maj. Gen. Shah Nawaz Khan of Bose’s Indian National Army.
In 2015, Bose’s relatives had launched a fresh initiative to pressure the Indian government to declassify all the documents related to Netaji. They want it to be clear whether Bose survived the plane crash or not.
The online documents by Ray, also includes several testimonies that were given by Khan, including Bose’s final moments immediately before and after the crash.
The reports also state that no sooner had the the plane become airborne there was a loud explosion on the flight, which according to Khan, had sounded like “a cannon shot”.
Khan further states:
“Netaji turned towards me and I said ‘Aagey se nikaleay, pichey se rasta nahin hai’ (Please get out through the front; there is no way through the rear).’ We could not get through the entrance door as it was all blocked and jammed by packages and other things. So Netaji got out through the fire; actually he rushed through the fire. I followed him through the same flames.”
Khan then goes on to reveal that once they were out, he saw that Netaji’s clothes had caught fire and that he tried to extinguish them but faced great difficulty, he said:
“The moment I got out, I saw him about 10 yards ahead of me, standing, looking in the opposite direction to mine towards the west. His clothes were on fire. I rushed and I experienced great difficulty in unfastening his bush-shirt belt. His trousers were not so much on fire and it was not necessary to take them off.”
When questioned why Bose’s clothes caught fire and his didn’t, Khan revealed that he was in his woolen uniform, while Bose was in cotton khakis, thus they caught fire more easily than his.
Khan then revealed that after he had extinguished the fire, he noticed that Bose had been hurt badly and that he would not survive for long.
“I laid him down on the ground and noticed a very deep cut on his head, probably on the left side. His face had been scorched by heat and his hair had also caught fire and singed. Netaji enquired from me in Hindustani: ‘Aap ko zyada to nahin lagi? (I hope you have not been hurt badly).’ I replied, ‘I feel that I will be all right’. About himself, he said that he felt that he would not survive.”
Khan then went on to narrate how Bose even at the time of his death had only thought about India and its independence and how people should not stop fighting for it.
Bose in his final moment has said:
“Jab apney mulk wapas jaye to mulk-ki bhaiyon ko batana ki mein akhri dam tak mulk-ki azadi ke liye larta raha hoon; woh jangi azadi ko jari rakhen. Hindustan zaroor azad hoga, Oos ko koi ghulam nahin rakh sakta. (When you go back to the country, tell the people that till the last moment, I fought for the liberation of my country; they should continue to struggle, and I am sure India will be free before long. Nobody can keep India in bondage now.)”
After that Khan revealed that Bose was rushed to the nearby Nanmon Military Hospital where he was admitted in critical condition.
Ray’s website further claims that the crash had happened during the day time on August 18, 1945 and that he would further reveal about what happened next and on August 18’s night on January 16, 2016, when he will post Rehman Khan’s full statement, along with that of Lt. Col. J.G. Figgess.