A trusted aide of legendary freedom fighter Netaji Subash Chandra Bose had claimed that he was “alive” in China in 1948, according to one of the secret files declassified by the West Bengal government.
File no 22 sheds light on intelligence gathered by the West Bengal government and the office of the deputy commissioner of police on leaders of Bose’s Indian National Army (INA), including his aide Deb Nath Das, who had said he was “somewhere in Manchuria, China” in 1948.
An extract dated August 9, 1948 states: “Deb Nath Das, an ex-INA leader who is actively engaged in anti-Congress propaganda, is preaching in political and party circles that Netaji Subash Chandra Bose is alive and is somewhere in Manchuria, China at present.”
The file further said, “To rouse the curiosity and even belief of the people, he (Das) says that Netaji told him before the plane crash that the possibility of a third world war would emerge in the wake of the second world war.”
On August 22, 1945, Tokyo Radio had announced the “death” of Bose in an air crash in Formosa, now in Taiwan, on August 18, 1945 while he was on his way to Japan.
The crash theory has been rejected by Bose’s followers and admirers, and claims of the revolutionary leader resurfacing have intrigued and divided Indians over the decades.
Adding to the controversy, file no 22 states Das had asserted in 1948 that Bose was keeping tabs on the international and national scenarios.
“Das adds that Netaji is watching both the international and national situation, vis-a-vis India, to find out as to which among the foreign powers was her friend or enemy. There is a talk that Deb Nath Das may contest the by-election from south Calcutta constituency of the West Bengal Assembly,” it said.
Das, according to a declassified 1948 confidential diary page of Calcutta police, was known to give “fiery lectures” against the then Indian government.
“Except for the meetings attended or presided over by Das, in which he always gave fiery lectures against the government of India, nothing else could be known of his anti-Congress activities,” it said.
The West Bengal government on Friday made public 64 files to help unravel the mystery behind Bose’s disappearance.
Bose, once the president of the Congress party, made contact with Axis powers during World War II. He formed the INA in Singapore with the help of the Japanese and fought the British.
Das was a key member of the provisional government-in-exile formed by Bose in 1943.
Documents recently declassified in several countries have indicated that the Indian government kept members of Bose’s family under watch for several years. The revelations have added to the clamour for declassification of more than 100 secret files that are currently with the Central government.