We may not like to believe what the Brits said about us, but sometimes their utterances approximate to the truth. George Orwell in his essay ‘Shooting an Elephant’ had written: “(In the East) a story always sounds clear enough at a distance, but the nearer you get to the scene of events the vaguer it becomes.” Something of this sort is happening to the events concerning the files relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured the members of the Bose family that all files relating to Netaji will begin to be laid open to the public on January 23 (Netaji’s birthday) next year. However, what the West Bengal government gave out on September 18 has hardly anything worth mentioning. They say the family had been snooped upon. What was the nature of the snooping? Upon whose orders? What was the real reason to snoop upon Netaji’s family members? Questions such as these are unanswered.
Government after government at the Centre, mostly controlled by the Congress, is said to have had possession of files relating to Netaji’s career in the Congress, his disappearance and what happened thereafter. Rings of mysteries were woven round them to feed people’s imagined insecurities. And such has been the capacity of some for make-believe that common sense seemed to have fallen by the wayside.
Several commissions have gone into the question of Bose’s disappearance, the latest being the one of Justice (retd) Chittatosh Mookerjee. Did they not go through the Netaji files? Would we not have heard more of Netaji’s disappearance if the files contained anything? The Mookerjee commission did say that according to the Taiwan government, there was “no air crash” on Taiwan soil on the day Netaji’s plane is said to have met with an accident, leading to his ‘death’. But that does not solve the mystery.
Yet some individuals want the Netaji myth to remain alive. Some of them do so for emotional reasons and they seek a salve for their feeling of victimhood. And others do so out of a political motive as their love is not so much for Netaji as is their dislike for Jawaharlal Nehru, whom they blame for Netaji’s isolation. Running down Nehru fulfils certain political motives. That is all they want.