The Union government spied on relatives of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose for nearly two decades, according to two intelligence files that were recently declassified.
The files, which were sent from the West Bengal government’s intelligence branch to the Intelligence Bureau, show that several members of Bose's family were kept under surveillance between 1948 and 1968. The files were sent to the National Archives after being declassified in 2012.
Anuj Dhar, the author of “India's Biggest Cover-Up”, a book on the mystery surrounding Netaji’s reported death in a 1945 plane crash, found the two intelligence files at the National Archives a few months ago. “These files were declassified by mistake. When there is a large-scale declassification of files, some files come out by mistake,” Dhar told Hindustan Times.
The files show that West Bengal’s intelligence branch mounted surveillance on two Bose family homes in Kolkata at 1 Woodburn Park and 38/2 Elgin Road. Sleuths also intercepted and copied letters written by Bose's kin and kept tabs on who they met and what they discussed.
Among the Intelligence Bureau officials who were kept informed about the surveillance of the Bose family were R N Kao, who went on to found the Research and Analysis Wing, and M M L Hooja, who later became the head of the domestic spy agency.
Much of the surveillance focussed on Netaji’s nephews Sisir Kumar Bose and Amiya Nath Bose, the sons of Sarat Chandra Bose. Both nephews were considered to be very close to Netaji.
The files contain many handwritten records of telephone messages regarding the movements of Amiya Nath Bose in Kolkata and Indian other cities such as Delhi as well as his foreign trips.
The sleuths intercepted letters from Netaji’s German wife Emilie Schenkl to Sisir Kumar Bose and others in Japan, Europe and America, such as historian Leonard Gordon. These letters were opened and copied.
In a letter sent to his aunt Emilie in July 1955, Sisir wrote: “If you were in India today, you will get the feeling that in India’s struggle two men mattered – Gandhi and Nehru. The rest were just extras.”
“Even ten years after Netaji’s reported death, a report from the intelligence branch referred to Emilie Schenkl as his ‘wife’. These files have very precise information, they are meticulously written,” said Dhar.
“The BJP had said before coming to power that they would declassify all the Netaji files. But now they are acting just like the Congress. The BJP must fulfil its promise about declassifying these files,” he said.
Bose was the president of the Indian National Congress in 1939 but quit following differences with Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. He escaped from India, and travelled to Germany and Japan, where he built up the Indian National Army to take the fight to the British in India.
Bose reportedly died in a mysterious air crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945 at the age of 48 but this has been disputed by members of his family and others. There are also reports about Netaji being spotted in the erstwhile USSR many years after the plane crash.
The government has refused to declassify more than 100 secret files for decades, saying that making them public would cause law and order problems, especially in West Bengal, and affect relations with friendly countries.