Official papers show that in their zeal to prove Netaji Subhas Bose\\'s death, the Home Ministry glossed over the real facts of the matter.
By Anuj Dhar
Monday, 1 May 2006
Did the Home Ministry mislead the Union Cabinet when the proposal to bring "the ashes of Netaji Subhas Bose" to India was thrashed out in February 1995? . While furnishing the details of the controversy surrounding Bose\\'s death, Home Secretary K Padmanabhaiah withheld from the ministers what the Government itself thought about the matter. While the Home Secretary\\'s detailed note laboured on to prove that Netaji had died in Taipei, the actual government view was that this could not be confirmed.
The note that Padmanabhaiah prepared at the behest of Home Minister SB Chavan recalled how late Prof Samar Guha had in August 1977 moved a motion in the Lok Sabha calling for a new inquiry. It said though the motion was inconclusive, the ministry examined "fully" the points raised by Guha, and trashed them. The ministry\\'s view that "no useful purpose would be served" by further inquiring into the matter was sent to the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) for their approval. Strangely, the CCPA approved it in 1991, when a lame-duck, Congress-backed government of Chandrashkehar was in the saddle. At the same time, aging Samar Guha was making passionate pleas to the Indian and the Russian governments to come out with the truth.
What the Home Secretary did not reveal to the Cabinet, obviously at the instance of the Home Minister, were the closing remarks made by Prime Minister Morarji Desai at the end of the motion on August 28, 1978. Not that Desai had any love for Subhas, the old Gandhi acolyte was cornered by convincing presentation of facts. Guha tore into the fraudulent inquiries of Shah Nawaz Khan and GD Khosla and cited reasons why he thought that the two had had malafide intentions. Eventually, Desai had to admit that contrary to Shah Nawaz\\'s and GD Khosla\\'s assertions, there were "various important contradictions in the testimony of the (mostly Japanese) witnesses" to "Netaji\\'s death". He also revealed that "some further contemporary official documentary records have also become available", making the Government think that the findings of Shah Nawaz and GD Khosla were not the last word.
In 1998 Justice Prabha Shankar Mishra, then Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, singled out Desai\\'s statement as one major reason to look afresh into the Netaji mystery. When the Government was not itself sure of Bose\\'s fate, how in the world they could venture out to take steps to establish his death in the eyes of the Indians? The court berated the Government, adding that "their silence may not be appreciated in the matter and they for obvious reasons ... should proceed in some effective manner to enquire into the circumstances of the death" of Netaji.
Justice Mukherjee Commission, which was formed as a result of the court order, did its best to uncover the truth but met with a wall of opposition from the Government. Despite Justice Mukherhee\\'s personal perusal, the Government did not hand him over the "contemporary official documentary records" Morarji Desai had referred to.
Furthermore, a close reading of Padmanabhaiah\\'s spin on the Netaji mystery brought forth the spectre of Nehruvian mindset to prove Bose\\'s death, by hook or crook. The view from the Raisina Hill was that "there seems to be no scope for doubt that he (Netaji) died in the air crash of 18th August, 1945" and that "there is no evidence whatsoever" countering it. "If a few individuals/organisations have a different view, they seem to be guided more by sentimentality rather than by any rational consideration," the Ministry averred.
Phew! Mohandas Gandhi, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, Gyani Zail Singh, S Nijalingappa, Atal Behri Vajpayee, Sarat Chandra Bose, the Prime Minister\\'s Office, the Calcutta High Court, Intelligence Bureau, British Military Intelligence, the US State Department, Government of Taiwan, and, most likely, Mukherjee Commission are included in the long list of the individuals/organisations doubting the crash theory of Netaji\\'s death.
Anuj Dhar is the author of Back from Dead: Inside the Subhas Bose Mystery.