Netaji’s elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose never believed his brother died in the 1945 air crash at Taihoku and told his daughter Roma, son Amiya Nath and Netaji’s wife Emilie Schenkl that he would reappear, as per the declassified intelligence files.
Sarat Bose’s daughter, 86-year-old Roma Ray, corroborated it to HT. “My father never believed the air crash theory and was always sure that my uncle had spread the word about the crash to evade the Allied forces. He suspected (Colonel) Habibur Rahman (of the Indian National Army of Netaji) was lying on purpose under instruction from Netaji,” she said.
In 1946, Schenkl had introduced herself in her first letter to the Bose family as Netaji’s widow. But a few months after her first meeting with members of Bose family, including Sarat Bose, in Vienna in late 1948, she seemed to have changed her mind. “We can only hope that our feelings may become reality one day and that your brother will return. This is the only thing I am praying for,” she wrote to Sarat Bose in a letter dated May 5, 1949.
Sarat Bose’s grandson Chandra Bose said he had learnt from his father Amiya Nath Bose that his grandfather was suspicious about Rahman’s statement. Both Chandra Bose and Roma Ray told HT that the wristwatch of Netaji that Rahman handed over to Sarat Bose deepened his suspicion.
“My grandfather got the watch tested at a London laboratory to find the nature of burn marks on its band (proof that the plane caught fire and Netaji suffered third degree burns). The lab ruled the burn marks were caused by acid. Sarat Bose was then convinced his brother had deliberately spread the news of his death,” Chandra Bose said. An IB report, dated February 25, 1948, claims that Sarat Bose received the deputy premier of Vietnam in Calcutta and requested him “to help Netaji’s reappearance in the East”.
The Vietnamese leader assured Bose of all help in shielding Netaji from the UN’s attempt to try him as ‘war criminal’ should he personally appear before them. He reportedly told Bose that he would make Netaji appear in Vietnam.
IB reports reveal INA Captain Shah Nawaz Khan told a gathering in Calcutta on January 23, 1948 that his leader was alive. Khan led the three-member Netaji Inquiry Committee in 1956 and concluded Netaji had died in the air crash.
Netaji’s younger brother Suresh Bose, a member of the committee, however, did not agree with the report.