MG Singh- early retired Airforce senior officer who is now a corporate advisor. He is also a global traveler and writer
The Death of Bose: Official Theory
Subhas Bose is one of the titans of the freedom struggle. His daredevilry and courage are an example to all Indians. Bose threw his lot with the Axis powers during World War II. He had a one-point agenda to free India from British rule as he felt the nonsensical policies of Gandhi and Nehru of fast and satyagraha were not going to bring freedom to India.
In a way Bose was right as the British left India, not because of the non-cooperation and peaceful marches by Gandhi, but when they lost their hold on the army, the instrument with which they had ruled India for 200 years. This was entirely due to the Indian national army created by Bose, which shook the very foundation of the Raj and forced the British to leave India as they faced a fait accompli, with the army and navy in revolt.
After the dropping of the Atomic bombs on Japan and its surrender, Bose had very few options left. He was supposed to be in Formosa at that time. As per official records made available by the Government of India, Bose mounted a Mitsubishi Ki 25 heavy bomber with his colleague Colonel Habibur Rehman at Taipeh. The plane is reported to have crashed and Bose died due to severe burn injuries. Colonel Habibur Rehman escaped and vouchsafed that he saw Bose aflame. Nehru and the Congress party appointed two commissions of inquiry and concluded that Bose died in the air crash and his ashes are kept in the temple in Tokyo.
This is the official theory but there is a line of thought that the aircrash was a piece of fiction floated by Bose to escape the dragnet of the Allies and subsequent trial as a war criminal.
Testimony of Colonel Habibur Rehmman
Colonel Habibur Rehman was supposed to be on the plane along with Bose. After the crash, he informed all concerned that he had seen Subhas Bose aflame and he died subsequently. Surprisingly Habibur Rehman escaped without any burns. His testimony has however to be taken with a pinch of salt. Firstly he was a close confident of Bose and secondly he was perhaps privy of a plan to let Bose escape the Allies dragnet.
Also it is proved now as found out by the Mukherjee commission that on the purported day of the crash, no Japanese plane crashed. Thus there is every chance that Habibur Rehman cooked up this story to give a smokescreen to cover the escape of Bose.
Another point to be noted is that the earlier 2 commissions of inquiry which were appointed by the Congress party failed to interrogate Habibur Rehman , who was then in Pakistan. This lapse has never been explained. Probably a detailed interrogation would have revealed disturbing facts and the commissions of inquiry concluded as the government wanted, that Bose died in the aircrash( which never took place)
The Mukherjee Commission
In 1998, bowing to popular demand a third commission of inquiry was appointed to unravel the death mystery of Subhas Bose. The commission made a detailed investigation, but could not interview Habibur Rehman who had died by then. The commission chairman Justice Mukherjee also visited Moscow and interacted with Russian officials. This was because of circumstantial evidence that perhaps Bose escaped to Russia and was imprisoned by Stalin in Siberia.
Russian officials told Justice Mukherjee that they would be willing to share information on Bose, in case a request was made by the Prime Minister of India to the Russian governmnet. The fact that Russians were willing to cooperate is a pointer and there is every chance that Bose escaped to Russia. This was in 2004.
Justice Mukherjee apprised the then Prime minister ManMohan Singh, but he never acted on it and followed up by rejecting the findings of the commission, which had concluded that Bose did not die in the aircrash. The action of ManMohan Singh was a blatent attempt at a cover up. As a loyalist of the Gandhi- Nehru family ManMohan Singh had a vested interest in the truth regarding Bose being revealed. Hence his negative approach, as informaton about Bose would have severely damaged the credibilty of Nehru and the Congress party.
To a persistent demand by the people of India, the West Bengal government made public some 64 classified files regarding Subhas Bose in September 2015. The files brought out that Nehru and the Congress party kept surveillance on the family of Bose for 20 years after the supposed death of Bose in 1945. This shows that perhaps Nehru himself did not believe that Bose was dead. Even Mahatma Gandhi when he was told of the death of Bose in 1945, commented that it was untrue and Subhas was very much alive.
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a step and forward and on 20 October 2015, announced that a request would be made to Russia to declassify the KGB files. In addition, he de-classified all files regarding Bose to the general public. This was after his meeting with the family of Bose in New Delhi. The declassified files revealed nothing.
However, the request to Russia reached nowhere. The Russian State Archives emphatically responded, "Subhas Chandra Bose had never been in any penitentiary (in the Soviet Union)." The Russians also dismissed the allegation that Bose was imprisoned in Siberia.
Last Word-he died in the air-crash
The clock has turned full circle. One can argue that the Russians are hiding the fact of Bose being imprisoned in Russia. There is no reason for it as the old Soviet Union has collapsed and the new Russia has come.
At about the same time a 60-year-old report of the Japanese government was released. This report clearly states that the death was caused by a plane crash near Taipei on August 18, 1945. This seven-page report also mentions that he was admitted to the Nanmom branch of Taipei Army Hospital at 3 pm and by 7 pm he died. According to the report, the ashes of Netaji are interred in a temple in Tokyo.
The inquiry instituted by Nehru under the aegis of Shahnawaz Khan who was a member of the Indian National Army also came to the same conclusion in 1956. The Mukherjee commission made a hue and cry about the fact that there was no record that a plane had taken off on August 18, 1945, but we must remember that Japan had been shaken by the atomic bombs and there is every chance that nobody was keeping any records as the whole situation was so chaotic.
We must also remember that Netaji Bose was an ally of the Japanese and he was treated with a lot of respect by them. They respected him and based on eyewitness Japanese accounts they took his ashes to a temple in Tokyo and consecrated them there. Against the wishes of the majority of Indians who would like to believe that Netaji survives the crash, we must accept the fact that he died on August 18, 1945, and it is about time the government of India brought the ashes of the great hero now lying forlornly in the temple in Tokyo back home and a suitable memorial rivaling Gandhi be dedicated to him.
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on May 16, 2021:
Thank you David for commenting and giving your opinion.
Dvid Isaac on May 16, 2021:
Thank you for a wonderful article. I am so glad you hit the nail on the head, there is no doubt that bose died in the air crash but vested interest was not interested to accept the fact, it is about time his ashes were brought home and a suitable monument erected in his memory..
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on November 12, 2015:
Thank you Lawrence. Stalin was against Gandhi and Nehru and kept Bose alive in Siberia for his own plans.
Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on November 11, 2015:
Interesting article and what you say about Bose is very possible.
The only condition of India sending troops to fight alongside the British was independence for India which Churchill had no choice but to agree to! Ghandi knew Churchill had agreed to independence after the war.
Japan did try to advance into India and both British and Indian troops fought bravely to defend India but the politicians knew Britain would never hold on to India afterwards.
It's entirely likely that Bose ended up in Siberia as a favor to both India and Britain (also as a bargaining chip because the Soviets could always use him if they needed to!)
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on November 04, 2015:
Yes lions 44, what you say is correct, but the mystery of Bose must be unravelled
CJ Kelly from the PNW on November 03, 2015:
Interesting article, as always. If he had been taken into custody, would he have been tried at the war crimes trials that the Allies set up for the Japanese Army? Or would he have been tried in India? There's no way he could have gotten a pardon? It is very plausible that he ended up in Russia and was never heard of again. Happened to many others. Look at Raoul Wallenberg? Taken into custody by the Soviets and seemingly disappeared.
MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on October 25, 2015:
Thank you grand old lady for commenting
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on October 25, 2015:
Very interesting and intriguing article. This is the first time I heard of Bose and you describe him quite eloquently. Hopefully over time the truth will come out about what really happened to him.