Files on Netaji declassified: 'A million myths could be busted'

Says author Santanu Banerjee, of the files given to his kin; the files could reveal how Bose’s relatives were constantly spied on by British intelligence after his disappearance, and Indian intelligence after Independence

New Delhi: As many as 64 files on Subhas Chandra Bose were given to his family Friday morning in Kolkata, but the consignment — 10,000 pages compressed in a compact disc — may reveal little about the missing nationalist.

Also read: 70 year long wait ends, Netaji files declassified

Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Bose with Kolkata CP Surajit Purkayastha releasing  the CD at Kolkata Police Museum yesterday
Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Bose with Kolkata CP Surajit Purkayastha releasing  the CD at Kolkata Police Museum yesterday

The files, at the most, would reveal how his family was constantly spied upon by British intelligence after his mysterious disappearance and, subsequently, Indian intelligence (post-1947) between 1948 and 1968, a period when Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister.

Two of the 64 declassified files on display. Pic/AFPTwo of the 64 declassified files on display. Pic/AFP

But the move, claims an author of what could be the most definitive book on the founder of the Indian National Army (INA), could open a virtual Pandora’s box. “A million myths would be busted, much preserved cookies have started crumbling,” claimed veteran journalist Santanu Banerjee, whose meticulously researched book, Most feared Left leader in captivity, will be published by a US publisher early next year.

Banerjee says the Bengal files will have virtually nothing except details of snooping by officers of the state and Central intelligence at the Elgin Road residence of Bose.

Gandhi got secret info?
Banerjee’s book has details of files maintained by the Intelligence Bureau which quoted Mahatma Gandhi as saying he believed Netaji was alive. Gandhi’s statement — at a prayer meeting in Bengal — came eight months after Netaji purportedly died in an air crash at Taihoku on 18 August, 1945.

Though Gandhi later wrote an article in Harijan, saying, “no reliance can be placed on such unsupported feeling”, officers of the Intelligence Bureau — in their noting in a file dated April 8, 1946 — wrote Gandhi ascribed the feeling to “an inner voice” but Congressmen believed it was based on secret information he got.

“This file is in Delhi, not in Kolkata,” said Banerjee. He said another indicator that the Allied powers refused to believe Bose 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.

“The document explored options about how to deal with 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,” said Banerjee.

Netaji’s grandnephew, Chandra Kumar Bose, agrees mostly on the findings of the author. “The entire truth must come out, there are 135 files lying with the Central government and those with the British intelligence agencies,” said Bose in a telephonic interview.

Bose says Gandhi had some secret information: “Gandhi was keen that members of the Bose family should not perform the shraddh because there is a question mark regarding Subhas Bose’s death.” Author of a book on Bose, India's Biggest Cover up, Anuj Dhar, also agrees.

Dhar said Gandhi probably had information from Alfred Wegg, a journalist of Chicago Tribune who visited Taiwan. Dhar says one file that could have contained definitive evidence on Netaji after 1945 has been — strangely — destroyed.

Only one page remains of File No. 12(226)/56-PM regarding “Investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Subhas Chandra Bose”. The rest of the file was destroyed in 1972 when Congress ruled Bengal and Siddharth Shankar Ray was CM of the state.

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