Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Russia later this month. He will be meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two are expected to take forward the Indo-Russia strategic ties to a new level.
But a section of inquisitive persons in India are looking forward eagerly to whether PM Modi would raise a subject that is directly connected to the disappearance of Subhash Chandra Bose and, perhaps, shed some light on Lal Bahadur Shastri’s mysterious death.
The subject is the Tashkent Man.
Who is The Tashkent Man?
The Tashkent Man is an Indian man (about whom the Indian government has no information) and appears in many photographs and some videos from during the time the Tashkent Pact was signed by Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Mohammed Ayub Khan.
He is seen in almost every frame that captures key moments of signing of the agreement.
Why is he relevant?
Because of his uncanny facial similarity with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
In fact, it is this similarity that piqued the interests of many Netaji researchers, who then approached Neil Miller, a renowned forensic expert, to verify their suspicion that the Tashkent Man is in fact Netaji.
By whom and how was the study commissioned?
Miller was approached by 36-year-old former Mission Netaji member and Dutch national of Indian origin Siddhartha Satbhai and his team.
Satbhai collected pictures and videos from nearly every archive, including the Chughtai Museum in Lahore. Some data was also reportedly shared by the Anonymous group.
The team also comprised of Netaji’s great grand-niece Rajyashri Chowdhury, researcher and deponent before the Justice Mukhejee Commission Jayanta Chowdhury, nephrologist Shankar Kumar Chatterjee, and Netaji activist Debasish Sen.
What was the result?
After a careful study of all the pictures and videos for over a month, Miller came to the conclusion that the Tashkent Man has a very strong resemblance to Netaji Subhash Bose.
At the time his age would be 69. (Not too old, given the fact that 80-year-olds have held the post of prime minister in India.)
Miller conducted a forensic face-mapping and studied facial similarities between Netaji and the Tashkent Man. Every detail was looked into, including the shape of eyes, the nose and the ear lobes.
It was noted that the left ear of the Tashkent Man and Netaji have exactly the same outline, size and shape.
The study pointed out that the lips are identical.
The entire study has been published here.
What if the Tashkent Man was Netaji?
If the Tashkent Man was Netaji then it establishes beyond doubt that the plane crash in which Subhash Chandra Bose is believed to have died was a lie.
Moreover, if the Tashkent Man was Netaji then it connects him directly to Lal Bahadur Shastri and, possibly, his death.
How is Shastri connected to this case?
Shastri died in Tashkent on January 11, 1966, soon after signing the Tashkent Pact with Pakistan.
His death is itself a mystery. Immediately after his death, which according to official version was due to heart attack, Shastri’s family led by his wife alleged that he was poisoned because they saw that his body had turned blue.
Before his death, he had called up his wife and told her that upon his return he would reveal something that would make “every Indian forget everything else”.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Sunil Shastri, son of Lal Bahadur Shastri, that though he was not sure whether his father met Netaji in Tashkent, there is a possibility that “he wanted to tell the people of India something about Netaji on his return”.
The family’s version that Shastri died from poisoning gains strength from the fact that the government has only one classified record related to the demise of the then Prime minister of India, which is highly unusual as per Anuj Dhar given that Shastri’s death came under controversial circumstances, in a foreign land, and in Office.
What makes it a deeper mystery is the fact that Shastri’s personal doctor R.N. Chugh, who was the first to respond just before Shastri’s death, and the prime minister’s personal attendant Ramnath met with accidents in 1977.
Dr Chugh died in the accident which also killed his wife and son and left his daughter a cripple. Ramnath was hit by a DTC bus; he lost his leg and memory.
Various accounts prove that Shastri was the only Prime Minister in India who was actually interested in unveiling the truth behind Bose’s disappearance. He was the only one in the Congress to disagree with the plane crash theory.
Why are they asking Modi to take the matter up with Putin?
Because Tashkent, now the capital city of Uzbekistan, was then a Soviet state, which means that all secret documents related to that period are with the Russian Federation.
Also Modi promised Bose’s extended family that he will look into the age-old case of Netaji’s disappearance.
Meanwhile, we can only hope that the mysteries surrounding one of India’s greatest sons and one of the few forward-thinking prime ministers are resolved soon.