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In 1956, many thought of Dr Radha Binod Pal as the head of an unofficial inquiry panel to be sent to south east Asia and Japan to investigate what had happened to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose after surrender of Japan in August 1945.

Dr Pal, an internationally known jurist, had been a member of the War Crimes Tribunal, the victorious allied powers had appointed to try Japan's former government and military leaders. As a judge of the War Crimes Tribunal, Dr Pal had studied secret official Japanese documents of the relevant period. That was why Dr Pal was thought of as eminently suitable for conducting specific inquiry into the disappearance of Netaji.

An unofficial inquiry was proposed because the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had not considered it necessary for ten years to accept many requests for an official investigation of the circumstances leading to Netaji's disappearance.

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Another probe which failed to convince
For all its methodical approach and graphic details, the Shah Nawaz Committee Report could not convince the people of India that Netaji's had died. In hindsight, the first blow was dealt when one member of the Committee, Netaji's elder brother Suresh Chandra, distanced himself from the findings even as the report was being readied.

Later, on September 12, 1956, Suresh Chandra went on to challenge Pandit Nehru's remark in Parliament that the evidence collected by the Committee was `overwhelming'. Bose dubbed the crash theory as a fabrication of imperial Japan and asserted his conviction that Netaji was alive.

At the centre of the disagreement were the very testimonies that would have scotched all persisting queries. Discrepancies and contradictions in witnesses' accounts turned the tables on the Committee's 'factual' report.

So, it was only a matter of time that the demand for another probe was raised. It made a comeback in the power circles by mid-sixties and eventually some 350 MPs passed a resolution in Parliament, asking for a fresh probe.

A one-man Commission headed by Justice Khosla was set up on July 11, 1970. Incidentally, Justice Khosla also headed three other commissions even as he tried to unravel the mystery of Subhas Bose's disappearance. He took four years to give his report which was nothing more than a summary of what Shah Nawaz Committee had concluded in 1956.

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