The alleged death of Subhas Chandra Bose
, the supreme commander of Azad Hind Fauj
The Indian National Army or Azad Hind Fauj was an armed force formed by Indian nationalists in 1942 in Southeast Asia during World War II. The aim of the army was to overthrow the British Raj in colonial India, with Japanese assistance...
and Free India Legion in a plane crash in Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...
on August 18, 1945, has long been the subject of dispute. There has been three Government of India sponsored commissions and numerous private investigations to find out if Subhas Chandra Bose had died in the plane crash. The third Indian commission that was appointed for enquiring into this concluded in its report tabled in parliament in May 2006, that Bose's death was staged to facilitate an escape to the USSR.
Subhas Chandra Bose, a prominent leader of the Indian independence movement
The term Indian independence movement encompasses a wide area of political organisations, philosophies, and movements which had the common aim of ending first British East India Company rule, and then British imperial authority, in parts of South Asia...
against the British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...
in India and a general of the Imperial Japanese army Tsunamasa Shidei
were reported to be flying to Tokyo, Japan when the alleged plane crash occurred at Matsuyama aerodrome (now Songshan Airport
Taipei Songshan Airport or Taipei Sungshan Airport is a midsize commercial airport and military airbase located in Songshan, Taipei, Taiwan...
) in Taipei
Taipei City is the capital of the Republic of China and the central city of the largest metropolitan area of Taiwan. Situated at the northern tip of the island, Taipei is located on the Tamsui River, and is about 25 km southwest of Keelung, its port on the Pacific Ocean...
, northern Formosa (now the Republic of China, or Taiwan). After cremation, Bose's ashes were taken to Japan and interred at the Renkōji Temple
is a Buddhist temple in Tokyo, Japan. It is assumed to be the purported location of the ashes of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Indian freedom-fighter, which have been preserved since September 18, 1945....
in Tokyo. The news was withheld by the Japanese
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...
government for five days before it was announced by Japanese news agency Domei. The Allied forces
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...
took the Japanese news as a ploy. The then Viceroy of India, Field Marshal Archibald Wavell, is reported to have noted in his diary that "I wonder if the Japanese announcement of Subhash Chandra Bose's death in an air-crash is true. I suspect it very much, it is just what should be given out if he meant to go underground."
The matter was looked into by several allied intelligence teams and soon holes in the Japanese version became apparent.
The findings of the intelligence teams seem to have not confirmed the Japanese announcement. For as late as October 1946, the Government of British India refused to confirm the death of Bose.
After India's independence, the matter was looked into by three official panels formed by the government of India following the public demands. These panels were: Shah Nawaz Committee, Justice GD Khosla Commission & Justice Mukherjee Commission
The Mukherjee Commission refers to the one-man board of Mr. Justice Manoj Mukherjee , a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India which was instituted in 1999 to enquire into the controversy surrounding the reported death of Subhas Chandra Bose in 1945....
of Inquiry. The Shah Nawaz Committee upheld the Taiwan crash version, as did the Justice GD Khosla Commission, whereas the Mukherjee Commission negated it.
However, it has also been alleged at various times that the Indian government and political leadership was aware that Bose may have been alive, and according to one theory, in captivity in Soviet Union, but chose to ignore or actively collaborate to suppress this information after Independence.
Shah Nawaz Committee
In April 1956, the Jawaharlal Nehru Government formed a committee headed by Shah Nawaz Khan
Shahnawaz Khan was an Indian soldier who is remembered as an officer who served in the Second Indian National Army during World War II and later came to be one of the three defendants in the first of the INA trials in 1946....
. Khan had earlier risen to the rank of Lt Col in the Second Indian National Army, before he was captured by allied troops after the fall of Azad Hind and was one of the three charged with treason in the Red Fort Trial. He was thus seen as an appropriate person to head the inquiry. Two other members of the inquiry commission were SN Mitra and Suresh Chandra Bose, Bose's elder brother.
The committee's report that Bose had indeed died in Taipei became disputed due to several reasons. The most important among them was the dissentient report of Suresh Bose. Suresh Bose refused to agree with the findings of his colleagues and accused them and the Government of India of trying to coerce him into agreeing with their views.
In mid 1990s the released archives of Indian Political Intelligence proved conclusively that Bose was killed in 1945. Since rumours were circulating that he was still alive, Indian Political Intelligence arranged for Military Intelligence in New Delhi to investigate the matter. Captain Turner of the War Crimes Liaison Section in Taiwan(formerly called Formosa) was put on to the case and he managed to locate the last person to have seen Bose alive. This was Captain (Medical) Taneyoshi Yoshimi, who was under arrest in Stanley Gaol. He gave a statement that resolved the matter: ‘I personally cleaned his injuries with oils and dressed them. He was suffering from extensive burns over the whole of his body, though the most serious were those on his head, chest and thighs. During the first four hours he was semi-conscious...he murmured, and muttered in his state of coma, but never regained consciousness. At about 2300 hrs he died. I injected Formalin into the body and also had the coffin partly filled with lime.’ The coffin was then taken away and Bose's body was cremated.
In 1999, following a court order, the BJP led Indian government formed Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry. It was headed by Justice (rtd) MK Mukherjee of the Supreme Court of India. The commission perused hundreds of files on Bose's death drawn from several countries and also visited Japan, Russia and Taiwan.
Overturning the findings of previous panels, this commission's findings were that the news of Bose's death in Taipei were a cover-up for his escape to the USSR. The Commission, however, stated that they could not confirm Bose's presence in the USSR for want of evidence.
On the question of whether the sanyasi of Faizabad (Bhagwanji
Bhagwanji, also known as Gumnami Baba, was a mysterious Indian monk who in 1985 lived at Ram Bhawan in Faizabad, near Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. Till date, his real identity and activities remain obscure. A great number of people maintain that he was the Indian freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra...
) was (or not) Bose incognito, Justice Manoj Kumar Mukherjee stated in his report that the question "need not be answered" as there was no clinching evidence to prove it.
The Mukherjee Commission submitted its report to Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil on November 8, 2005. The report was tabled in the Indian Parliament on May 17, 2006. However, the Congress Party led Indian Government rejected the findings of the Commission.
Bose mystery in contemporary India
Mission Netaji is a Delhi-based Indian non-profit trust that conducts research on Subhas Chandra Bose's disappearance. Some documents the organisation has dug out have information connected to Bose's disappearance. This led to more documents that remain classified. Several Indian ministries, including the Indian Prime Minister's Office
The Prime Minister's Office is a small department which provides advice to a Prime Minister in some countries:* Office of the Prime Minister * Office of the Prime Minister * British Prime Minister's Office...
, have refused to make public the documents under the Right to Information Act
The Right to Information Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of India "to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens." The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir has its own act...
campaign launched by Mission Netaji, on the ground that their disclosure will affect India's relations with foreign countries.