Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose may have survived a purported air crash in 1945 and his family was under widespread surveillance after Independence, a batch of 64 files made public by the West Bengal government indicated on Friday.
The 12,744-page dossier showed several people writing to members of Bose’s family saying they were told the freedom fighter was alive but experts said the documents — thrown open for public viewing at the Kolkata Police Museum — contained no conclusive proof.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee added to the speculation, saying she believed Bose didn’t die in the 1945 crash and urged the Centre to declassify all Netaji-related files.
“I have gone through a few pages and it indicates Netaji was alive after August 1945. One thing is for sure from these reports — the intelligence units of the state and city police used to keep a strict surveillance on the Bose family even after independence,” she said.
A reading of the declassified files by HT showed Swiss journalist Lilly Abegg wrote to Netaji’s brother Sarat Bose on December 9, 1949, saying she was told by Japanese sources Netaji was alive in 1946.
On March 5, 1948, Chou Hriang-Kuang — an officer of the publication division of the Union information and broadcasting ministry — wrote to Netaji’s nephew Amiya Nath Bose, “I am still believing he is still alive.”
The letter, contained in file number 10, was written a good three years after the August 18, 1945 crash of a bomber plane in present-day Taiwan that allegedly killed Bose and a Japanese general, among others.
Two commissions formed after independence ruled the freedom fighter died in the aeroplane crash but in 2005, the Manoj Mukherjee commission ruled Netaji did not die in the accident, saying there was no record of the crash.
The documents also contained evidence of widespread surveillance by the Centre on members of Netaji’s family and those connected with Indian National Army for at least two decades after independence.
The documents cover correspondence and files between 1937 and 1968.
“Kindly arrange to supply an up-to-date note on the activities of Shri Amiya Nath Bose giving his personal particulars and political proclivities, if any, for the completion of his office records,” read a 1968 letter from a crime investigation department official in Delhi to then deputy inspector general of police, IB (West Bengal). Amiya was known to be close to Netaji.
The Centre has about 130 Netaji-related documents that it has refused to declassify so far.
Former Rajya Sabha MP Krishna Bose said the police used to open all correspondence that arrived at Elgin Road post office – the Bose ancestral house was on Elgin Road – and not a single letter escaped their vigil.
“We will meet the Prime Minister shortly and demand a probe on how our family were snooped on by a team of 14 IB officers. We also want to know how a file related to Netaji’s disappearance was destroyed during the regime of SS Ray in Bengal,” said Netaji’s grand nephew Chandra Bose.
The firebrand Bose was one of the tallest leaders of the freedom movement but left the Congress following differences with Mahatma Gandhi. He then escaped from India in 1941, travelling to Germany and Japan, where he strengthened the Indian National Army to free India from the British.
His sudden disappearance after 1945 has fanned several conspiracy theories over the years, especially in West Bengal, where he is seen as a hero amid simmering discontent over supposed hostile behaviour by the Centre.