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Documents reveal Nehru govt shared information on Netaji's family with MI5

The row over previous Congress governments snooping on the family of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has taken a new turn with declassified British and Indian documents showing that the results of the surveillance were shared with Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2015 14:46 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Netaji

An-archival-image-of-Netaji-Subhas-Chandra-Bose-HT-File-Photo

The row over previous Congress governments snooping on the family of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has taken a new turn with declassified British and Indian documents showing that the results of the surveillance were shared with Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency.



Two recently declassified files from the West Bengal government’s intelligence branch, which were sent to the Intelligence Bureau (IB), showed that several members of Bose's family were kept under surveillance between 1948 and 1968. Jawaharlal Nehru was the prime minister during 1947-64 and the IB reported directly to him.



A war of words has erupted between the Congress and BJP over the revelations that successive Congress governments snooped on Bose’s family, and the Congress has accused the NDA government of unleashing a "systematic and sinister propaganda of selective leaks and half truths" to malign Nehru.



The documents on the sharing of information between the IB and MI5 – which were found in Britain’s National Archives by Anuj Dhar, the author of "India’s Biggest Cover-Up", a book that looks at the mystery surrounding Netaji’s reported death in a 1945 plane crash – show Indian sleuths passed on information gleaned from the letters of Bose’s kin to their British counterparts.



http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/4/document1.jpg

(Document courtesy- Anuj Dhar's Facebook page) A letter written by Nehru on November 26, 1957, which too was uncovered by Dhar, will undoubtedly fuel more conspiracy theories about the snooping.



In the letter, Nehru asked then foreign secretary Subimal Dutt to find out more about a visit to Japan by Netaji’s nephew Amiya Nath Bose.



http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/4/document3.jpg

(Document courtesy- Anuj Dhar's Facebook page)





"Just before I left Japan, I heard that Shri Amiya Bose, son of Shri Sarat Chandra Bose, had reached Tokyo. He had, previously, when I was in India, informed me that he was going there. I should like you to write to our ambassador at Tokyo to find out from him what Shri Amiya Bose did in Tokyo. Did he go to our Embassy? Did he visit this Renkoji Temple?" Nehru wrote.



The then Indian Ambassador in Japan, CS Jha, responded that there was no information of Amiya Bose "having indulged in any undesirable activities".



http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/4/document2.jpg (Document courtesy- Anuj Dhar's Facebook page)



Another note from the British National Archives shows that the IB shared with MI5 the contents of a letter written in 1947 by Netaji’s close aide AC Nambiar, then based in Switzerland, to Amiya Bose in Kolkata. The contents of the letter were acquired through "secret censorship" – a euphemism for snooping - and the IB sought MI5’s comments on the issue.



http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/4/document4.jpg

(Document courtesy- Anuj Dhar's Facebook page)

The note reveals that IB deputy director SB Shetty was in touch with MI5’s security liaison officer KM Bourne, who was based in Delhi.

Bourne forwarded Nambiar's letter to the MI5 director general the next day and sought his comments.



According to another declassified document from the British archives, the British intelligence considered Nambiar, who was Bose’s representative to Germany during World War II, to be a friend of the Soviet Union.



http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/4/document5.jpg

(Document courtesy- Anuj Dhar's Facebook page)



"These documents clearly show the IB was working closely with the MI5 after independence. So which masters were they serving?" Dhar told Hindustan Times. "They were spying on Bose’s family after independence and treating him as an enemy, not the British."



Dhar said the Congress’ suspicions about Netaji could be traced to the falling out between Nehru and Bose in 1939, when the latter resigned as president of the Indian National Congress. Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru were both opposed to Bose’s demand for self-governance and the use of force to attain independence.



V Balachandran, a former special secretary of RAW, has said that the documents showing the cooperation between IB and MI5 were "very significant" and confirmed revelations in the authorised history of MI5 that Nehru had allowed the British to station a security liaison officer in New Delhi.



Read: UPA declassified first batch of Netaji files in 2012



(Rezaul H Laskar is a journalist with HT. He can be reached at @Rezhasan)