The secret files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose that will be declassified in Kolkata on Friday may contain enough circumstantial evidence that he was alive till at least 1964, say sources.
An American intelligence report prepared in the early 1960s suggests that Netaji could have returned to India sometime in February 1964 — 19 years after it was claimed that he died in an air crash in Taihoku, Taiwan. Though Russia is not mentioned, Netaji researchers believe American intelligence units had learned about his imminent return from Russia via China. He would have been 67 years old at the time.
“The report was prepared by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the US intelligence agency formed during World War II that later metamorphosed into Central Intelligence Agency or CIA. Remember, it was in 1949 that Netaji’s elder brother Sarat Bose wrote an article: ‘Netaji in Red China’. I believe this is conclusive proof that Netaji did not die in 1945,” said Netaji researcher Jayanta Chowdhury, who had deposed before the Justice Manoj Mukherjee Commission, whose report had concluded that the Taihoku plane crash hadn’t happened.
Among the contents of the 64 files — whose photocopies will be made available to the public at the Kolkata Police archives on Friday — is another US intelligence report on Netaji’s escape from house arrest on January 16, 1941.
While history records that Bose, disguised as a Sikh, was driven away by his nephew Sisir, the CIA report — declassified and published 50 years later in the early 1990s — states that five Sikhs had arrived at 38/2 Elgin Road and all five had left in a wagon. One of them was Bose. But there is no mention of a relative. Intelligence Bureau records contain names of visitors to the Netaji residence on that date.
Another indicator that the Allied powers did not believe Netaji died in a plane crash on August 18, 1945, is the sixth volume of the Transfer of Power document published in the UK after the War. It explored several options about how to deal with Subhas Bose – considered a war criminal for his alignment with Axis powers Germany and Japan – including court martial, deportation to a Sicilian island and a suggestion that he wouldn’t be made to surrender or tried “if he stays where he is”.
Interestingly, Gumnami Baba — the ascetic of Faizabad, who some believe was Netaji — had told select followers, including former INA veterans, about the difficulties he and the country would face from superior powers if his presence became public.
The one file that could have contained definitive evidence on Netaji after 1945 has been destroyed. Only the front page of File No. 12(226)/56-PM regarding ‘Investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Subhas Chandra Bose’ remains. A photocopy will be displayed at the police archive on Friday. The rest of the file was destroyed in 1972 when Congress was in power in Bengal and Siddharth Shankar Ray was chief minister.
“I believe some historical missing link may be obtained if successive state governments haven’t already tampered with the files. While Congress had every reason to distort facts, so do Communists whose role as secret service agents in India during the Freedom movement is clear in the contents,” said Chowdhury, adding that there is also a file on role of chief ministers in the Netaji mystery.
Sources said there are other reports on the existence of Bose after the so-called air crash as well as the story on Anita Pfaff, whom the extended Bose family has accepted as his daughter but whose credence others question. The name mentioned in the column for ‘father’ in Anita’s passport is the subject of one of the files.