The saga of Gumnami Baba lives on
The writer of the letter that apparently helped Justice (retired) Vishnu Sahai commission to conclude that Gumnami Baba alias Bhagwanji was not Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose has strongly contested the panel’s findings, insisting that she was a minor when the purported letter was written and that she still believed that Gumnami Baba only was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
“I was a minor on October 16, 1980 when the letter was written. I don’t remember writing any such letter. However, if I wrote the letter at all, it must have been at the behest of my father who strongly believed Gumnami Baba alias Bhagwanji was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. I belived and still believe that Gumnami Baba alias Bhagwanji was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose,” said the writer of the letter Bulbul, now Suhita Bhattacharya, when contacted on the issue.
Bulbul said she was not aware about the commission and when did it call the witnesses for examination. “The commission should have called me as a witness if it was relying on my letter. I did not appear before the commission on my own as I was not aware about its inquiry and examination of the witnesses. I am surprised and shocked to know that my letter has been used to reach a conclusion on such an important issue,” said Bulbul.
In concluding paras of the Commission’s report, Justice Sahai has observed that he came across evidence demolishing the claims of those affirming that Gumnami Baba was Netaji while inspecting documents in district treasury in the office of district magistrate of Faizabad (now Ayodhya) on June 22, 2017.
“I came across another example demolishing the claims on June 22, 2017 when I inspected ‘chhoti manjusha’ (small box) and ‘Badi Manjusha’ (big box) at the treasury that had items recovered from Ram Bhawan, Faizabad where Gumnami Baba alias Bhagwanji lived… As the letters kept in the boxes were in Bengali, I took them with me to the residence of Ronodev Ghosh (resident of 10, Gopal Nagar, Krishna Nagar, Lucknow) who was well versed in Bengali and he explained the letter to me in English…,” said Sahai.
Quoting the letter, Sahai said “This letter is dated October 16, 1980. This letter has been sent by Bulbul from Kolkata. This reads, ‘When will you come to my place. We will be very happy if you visit on the birthday of Netaji’.”
He further said Bulbul’s letter made it clear that Shricharan Kamlendu (Guruji) was Gumnami Baba alias Bhagwanji.
“As in this letter Bulbul clearly stated ‘We will be very happy if you visit on the birthday of Netaji’, it is clear that Gumnami Baba alias Bhagwanji was not Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose,” said Sahai in concluding paras, adding, “Above conversation is making it clear it cannot be ascertained from the items recovered from the part of Ram Bhawan (where Gumnami Baba lived before his death) that Gumnami Baba alias Bhagwanji was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.”
When contacted, Sahai refused to make any comments on the observations and said he would not say anything beyond the commission’s report.
In its report, the commission, however, has referred to witness number 10 (CW-10) Ashok Tandon, who, it said, had closely examined the literature, letters and documents recovered. The commission noted that on the basis of examination of literature, letters and documents, Tandon concluded that Gumnami Baba was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The commission quoting Tandon said no one was allowed to call Gumnami Baba as Subhash Chandra Bose and he was addressed as Shricharnesh, Shradha Sabdesh and Swamiji.
It may be mentioned that writer duo of 2019 book “Conundrum: Subhas Bose’s life after death” Chandrachur Ghose and Anuj Dhar too has contested the commission’s conclusion saying the commission did not examine the evidence available before it scientifically and thus the report deserved to be rejected outrightly.