Anita Pfaff’s statement that she believes her father Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose died in the 1945 air crash has not been received well by the extended Bose family.
The assumption that Netaji died in a crash has been supported by two commissions set up by the government to inquire into his mysterious death.
On Saturday, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled 100 digitised declassified files related to Netaji, Bose family members said they were hopeful the documents would help unravel the mystery.
But family members were dismayed over Pfaff’s comments. In an interview with HT on January 22, Pfaff said she had come to believe that her father died in the crash and did not support the “asinine theories” that he lived in the mountains as ‘Gumnami Baba’.
In 2007, Pfaff wrote a letter to the chief priest of Tokyo’s Renkoji Temple saying the Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry, set up by the government, had concluded there was no documentary proof of Netaji’s death and “much to my distress some of the persons sharing the view are also members of my and my father’s family as well as some dedicated devotees of my father”. Netaji’s ashes are supposed to be preserved in the temple.
Surya Kumar Bose, Netaji’s grandnephew, said he was disappointed with Pfaff accepting the air crash theory. He said Netaji’s wife, Emilie Schenkl, did not believe he died in the crash, which was evident from the fact that she did not sign the document agreeing to accompany the ashes to Japan.
On Pfaff’s letter agreeing to accept the ashes as that of her father’s, Surya said: “She may have some reasons. She did so after meeting Pranab Mukherjee, who was then handling external affairs.”
Anuj Dhar, author of India’s Biggest Cover-Up, an investigation into Netaji’s death, also differed with Pfaff’s view. “She (Anita) did not support the declassification of files. It was only after the PM announced the files would be declassified that she came around. Beside, her mother never believed that Netaji died in the crash.”
This is not the first time the family has disagreed on Netaji’s death. Historian and TMC MP Sugata Bose had also said he believed Netaji had died in the crash.
In a letter to LK Advani, then deputy Prime Minister, Sugata said: “I believe the time has come for Indian people to come to terms with the mortal end of a deathless hero.”