Nehru, Netaji aide was Soviet agent, files reveal

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Oct 25, 2014 12:17 IST

ACN Nambiar, a key aide of freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, was a Soviet agent in the 1920s, secret British files declassified on Friday suggested.

One of the secret files quotes a defector source in 1959 alleging the senior journalist acted as a spy of the erstwhile Soviet Union in the 1920s, the National Archives said.

The papers include copies of letters from Bose and a report of Nambiar’s five weeks-long interrogation by an army officer.
Born in 1898, Arathil Candeth Narayan Nambiar was a key figure in Bose’s activities in Europe and appointed ambassador to several countries after India’s independence.

The journalist, who died in 1986, was also known for his proximity to the Nehru family.

Nambiar was questioned for five weeks by Captain Naurang Singh Bains of the Indian Security Unit after being arrested in Austria in 1945. During the interrogation, he revealed details of secret radio stations set up by Bose and his colleagues in Germany and Kabul (codenamed ‘Mary’).

Nambiar also disclosed messages received from Bose through the Japanese and Germans, and activities of the Free India Centre in Berlin.
“He (Nambiar) has given a very full account of Bose’s movements and actions up to the time of his departure for the Far East in 1943,” said a secret note dates September 29, 1945.

In his report, Bains described Nambiar as a “cunning, probably mean, emotional, characterless” man who was “out-and out anti-British” who personified “all kinds of subversive activities”.

The report includes names and details of ‘Azad Hind’ activities in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. Bains recommended that Nambiar be persecuted and made an example of, since “he was obviously concerned in such a high degree of high treason”.

The declassified files also include copies of letters from Nambiar to Bose recovered from the German submarine U-boat 234 after it surrendered during the Second World War.

The newly declassified files also relate to secret surveillance by MI5 of leading British Marxist historians such as Eric Hobsbawm and Christopher Hill.

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