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Snooping Nehru

 

Satya Pal Singh. Editorial.XX.IX.XV

 

GHOST IN BOSE' FILES


 

Satya Pal Singh-fnbworld By Satya Pal Singh

 

 

Bose with Azad Hind
Fauj-fnbworld

 

The ghost of 64 secret files on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, that were declassified by the West Bengal government on Friday, has come to haunt the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru who ruled the country for 16 years after Independence with the diktats of his own. His oft-trumpeted attributes of statesmanship, moderation and inclusive leadership today stand at a discount with the available evidence of relentless surveillance mounted on the families of an illustrious patriot of India. The nation is shell-shocked to learn that Nehru himself was the driver of this unpalatable intrigue. The scions of the Nehru-Gandhi family are stunned too, finding it difficult to explain the sequence of unpleasant experiences that the Bose families suffered at the hands of the Nehru regime. They look extremely worried also about the possible declassification of 130 more files that are in the custody of the Union Government. So, the moot question remains : Why and what for Nehru chose to hound the patriotic son of India and his kin during his stewardship and kept so much buried under wraps?

 

Nehru and Bose: At loggerhead?

The declassified files nail a number of historic lies that had been put into circulation all these decades since Independence. Their contents reveal adequate circumstantial evidence to suggest that Netaji might have lived at least until 1964 and did not die in a Taiwan airplane crash in 1945, as is commonly believed in India and abroad. Howrah CID questioned the Taihoku air crash theory way back in 1949, years before Justice Manoj Mukherjee Commission on Bose's sudden disappearance said that there was no such plane crash.

 

In fact, the crash stories had started doing rounds right since 1942. Intelligence files indicate that rumors on the leader's death in air crashes appeared multiple times between 1942 and 1944 till the "final crash"   on August 18, 1945, three days after Japan surrendered to the allied forces. That practically buried every hope on Netaji and sent the nation into mourning. The Bose families are stunned by the latest revelations and genuinely wonder why such a huge operation was mounted if the Nehru govt believed that Bose had died in Taihoku. Nehru was PM for 16 of the 20 years when intense surveillance was on as the IB reported directly to him. The files show the IB resumed British-era surveillance on the two Bose family homes in Calcutta.


 Netaji Bose overseas-fnbworldNehru's sharp distaste for Bose was well known by all freedom fighters of the time, including Mahatma Gandhi, but that the bitterness was so much that Nehru put senior officers to spy on his family members and even his correspondence was intercepted, is simply unbelievable. Who will put these acts of omissions and commissions of the Nehru era in perspective? Did Nehru fear Bose's return to trouble him? Did he feel threatened by the traumatized members of Bose's family? Did Nehru's insecurity level drive him to the point of insanity? And, why were the letters even to his wife intercepted?


Declassified Bose files-fnbworld Bose was one of India’s greatest freedom fighters, who revived the Indian National Army, popularly known as ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ in 1943 which was initially formed in 1942 by Rash Behari Bose. Netaji visited London during pre-Independence period to discuss the future of India with the members of the Labor Party. His sudden disappearance from Taiwan led to surfacing of various theories, unfortunately none of which was probed by successive regimes, leaving people in the dark. But Bose's prominence never died down and he remained a big challenge for Nehru. 

 

One reason for surveillance on Bose families could be that Nehru was not sure if Bose was dead and feared that if he was alive, he would definitely communicate with his family in Calcutta. Bose was a very popular, charismatic leader who could have mobilized the masses into throwing Nehru and the Congress out of power, something Nehru hated in the core of his heart. Bose was the Indian National Congress president in 1939, but quit following sharp differences with Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru. He escaped from India, first to Hitler’s Germany, and later to Japan, where he revived the 40,000-strong Indian National Army in 1943, the first military resistance to the British since the 1857 War of Independence. In total sum, the events suggest Bose remained a permanent threat to Nehru.

 

As revealed by one of the secret files, Netaji's nephew Amiya Nath Bose wrote in a letter to his brother in 1949 that for the last one month a rather strange broadcast is being heard over the radio...The broadcast only says "Neta Subhas Chandra transmitter...wanted to speak." This sentence is repeated for hours. We do not quite know where it is coming from." The letter was intercepted by Kolkata Police. A secret report submitted by the intelligence office on 25 January,1949 stated, Sarat Chandra Bose gathered information during his European tour that Netaji was in China, then controlled by the Communist Army. Netaji had gone missing in 1945, but his families rejected the theory that he had died in plane crash.

 

Even before these files were declassified, controversy over whether the Nehru ordered surveillance on Bose's family members had escalated following disclosure that the first PM had personally sought information on their whereabouts. Documents accessed earlier had shown that Nehru, in a letter dated November 26, 1957 to then foreign secretary Subimal Dutt, sought to know what Bose's nephew Amiya Nath Bose was doing in Tokyo. In response, India's ambassador to Tokyo reported back assuring New Delhi that Amiya Bose had not "indulged in any undesirable activities".


 Confirmed: Nehru snooped on Bose
family-fnbworldIt comes as a shock that over a dozen intelligence officers were ordered to swoop on two residences of the Bose family. Agents tracked every move of the members and opened all mail posted from or arrived at the twin addresses on Elgin Road and Woodburn Park. These surveillance reports and those from the early 1940s, are compiled in 13 of the 64 files. The amount of manpower and time devoted to spy on Bose's relatives is mind-boggling. Even the letter from Emilie Schenkl to Sarat Bose, disclosing her relationship with Netaji and the presence of a child, was intercepted. There is, however, inconsistency on Netaji's marriage to Emilie. One entry shows the marriage taking place in January 1942., while a book", with editorial footnote by Sisir Bose, states that Netaji had secretly married Emilie on Dec 26, 1937.

 

Copies of the declassified files were handed over to Bose’s family members on Friday. Chandra Kumar Bose, grand-nephew of Netaji said, "I was able to look at some of the critical files related to the snooping. Amiya Nath Bose , Sisir Kumar Bose (nephews of Bose) were all under surveillance.” He asked: "Why should members of the Bose family be kept under surveillance?....Surveillance is conducted on those who have committed a crime or have terror links. Subhas babu and his family fought for India’s freedom..IB sleuths tailed Bose's family members as they travelled around India and abroad, recording who they met and what they discussed."

 

Netaji’s only child, Anita Bose-Pfaff, a Germany-based economist, feels startled by the revelations: “My uncle (Sarat Chandra) was politically active until the 1950s and disagreed with the Congress leadership. But what surprises me is that my cousins could have been under surveillance as they had no security implications.” Former Supreme Court judge A K Ganguly notes that the “documents show the intensity of the bias against Netaji and his family...more shockingly, the bias is by a government of independent India against a man who sacrificed everything for the country.”

 

The files, in digitized format, containing 12,744 pages, were declassified in the presence of Netaji's kin and will be put on public display at the Kolkata Police Museum from Monday onwards. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee informed that beside these 64, there may be "one or two more files" which would also be put in the public domain. Even if the West Bengal CM has declassified these files for political reasons, responding to intense public demand for declassification of files with the Union govt, she appears to have scored a point over the Union govt. It is now obligatory on the Centre to make the 130 files under its custody public as the people demand documentary information on Netaji who went missing mysteriously 70 years ago. However, those files that are considered "extremely sensitive" and are potentially risky to be made public, as the govt claims, may be withheld with some convincing explanation.

 

The UPA govt wrote to the Information Commission in August 2006 that certain files on Bose were so sensitive that disclosing them "may lead to a serious law and order problem in the country." It is, however, difficult to consume this explanation. About 41 PMO files, 27 MEA files, 77 IB files and 60,000 pages with the Home Ministry reportedly constitute the volume of classified papers on Bose. One can understand the Modi govt's view that the files can't be made public before the possible impact of any revelations on the international community is thoroughly studied. At the same time, the govt also feels that it's people's right to know the truth.

 

However, the revelations may indeed hurt a number of countries, including China, Japan, Soviet Union, Germany and some others, where Netaji had gone seeking help for the country's liberation from the colonial yoke. Sarat Bose once revealed that Netaji took part in the Chinese Liberation Movementagainst the Kuomington forces. He played a role in the Communist Party’s victory in China. This was the time when back home, Sarat was working on a formula for a single Leftist platform against the Congress. Sarat stated that in the backdrop of international events, Netaji's move was "sound."

 

Stories have taken rounds that Bose lived in independent India for several years in different garbs. Most credible of them has been the presence of a 'Gumnami Baba', claimed to be Netaji, living a secret, mystic life in UP's Faizabad. That was sometime in late 1985. Over two dozen trunks full of Baba's highly interesting personal assets were taken into custody by the UP government and have been lying sealed at the Faizabad district treasury for 30 years. On July 9, CM Akhilesh Yadav ordered compliance with a 2013 high court order recommending the establishment of a museum for the display of the contents of the trunks which, the court believed, "carry weight and are of historical value." The CM also allocated Rs 1.5 crore for this museum in the state's supplementary budget.

 

Bose, the gumnami baba?- fnbworld

Justice Manoj Mukherjee, who probed Bose's disappearnce, told a film-maker that he strongly believed that "Gumnami Baba, the mysterious monk who lived in Faizabad, was Bose in disguise...It is my personal feeling. Don't quote me, but I am 100 per cent sure that he is Netaji", the judge had told film-maker. Today, as the things stand, all secret files locked in the national treasury need to be decoded, to bring the truth behind disappearance of this great son of India. The nation wishes to pay homage to his memory on his death anniversary, once the day and time of his death is confirmed. In the meantime, let the Congress do all the explaining!

 

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