Netaji Shubhash Chandra Bose said,
“If you are willing to die for a cause without regard to your own
wants or desires that is as close as you can get to invincibility.
Even if your physical body is killed, your efforts and ideas will live on.”
The name “Netaji” revives a sense of nationalism itself. He was a man of pragmatic action than fragile words. Gandhian and Netaji’s perspective of freedom are different. Netaji believed freedom or revolution has to be gained by arms. Gandhi stood adamant to the means of satyagraha- non-violence.
Bose from a younger age was against any form of discrimination. While pursuing graduation at Presidency University, Calcutta he reproached a professor who racially abused a classmate. The very first army of women combatant was set by him – the Rani of Jhansi Regiment when he was handed over Indian National Army from Rash Bihari Bose in Singapore in October 1943. Netaji led the youth wing of the Indian National Congress in the 1920s.
He became the president of the party in 1938. He believed in the power of youth. When Azad Hind Fauj was formally established, it had a strength of 85,000 troops. The youth was ready to give their blood for liberation from the colonial rule. The INA included people from all caste, language and religion. He fought the final war of Independence and protected the inclusive identity and the ‘Concept of Bharat’
The Dilemma of Netaji’s death
In 2015, the West Bengal government released all the ‘Secret’ files related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose from its state archives. According to these files between 1945 and 1974, ten investigations took place. All of them concluded that Netaji died on the night of August 18, 1945, after being injured in an aeroplane crash at Taihoku airport. Netaji’s historical narrative is so great that some Indians believe he is still alive.
The different set of theories are listed below :
Absence of evidence is the evidence of absence – JMCI report
According to reports, the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry (JMCI) concluded in 2005 that there is no proof of a plane crash at Taihoku airport on August 18, 1945. The JCMI noted that in March 2003, the mayor of Taipei – in reply to a question from an Indian journalist – wrote that “there are no such records in Taipei City Archives of a plane crash in Taipei on that day”.
There were two eyewitnesses to the death and cremation of Bose: Habibur Rahman and the interpreter Juichi Nakamura. Both said to the Shahnawaz Committee in 1956 that Netaji was cremated on August 20, 1945. Dr Yoshimi, the hospital doctor, testified that the body had been taken from the hospital on the same date. Habibur added that he had collected the ashes the following day.
The death certificate was never retrieved. The Cremation Register of Taihoku Municipality records that four males were cremated between August 19-21. There is no concrete evidence of Netaji’s cremation.
Netaji’s photograph with Lal Bahadur Shastri
The former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was an ineffable champion of Netaji. A forensic face-mapping report submitted by a British expert suggested that Netaji was alive till 1966. According to the report, experts have found a strong resemblance of a man – standing with former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri in a photograph clicked in Tashkent – with that of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Even after the Tashkent peace talk, Shastri sir called his family to inform he had met someone of paramount importance.
Affidavit alluding Netaji lived in Russia in 1968
The affidavit was filed by Narendranath Sindkar, a writer and journalist between 1966 and 1991. It claims that Nikhil Chattopadhyay and his wife met Bose in the Siberian town 23 years after he was apparently killed in a plane crash. Nikhil Chattopadhyay was the son of revolutionary Virendranath Chattopadhyay who was executed by the Stalin government in 1937. The affidavit quoted Netaji didn’t want to return to India in fear of being declared a war criminal.
French Secret Service reported Netaji was alive in 1947
Paris-based historian JBP More quoted reports from the France Secret Service once said that Bose was still alive in 1947. In the report, it clearly stated that he was the ex-chief of the Indian Independence League and also a member of Hikari Kikan, a Japanese organisation.
Alias of Gumnami Baba
There existed a theory which also said that Bose returned to India and lived as a hermit in Faizabad in Oudh with a different name. In the alias name Gumani baba, he is believed to live till his death in 1985. Even in 2019, a film titled Gumnaami released in Bengal. Netaji’s family declared this conspiracy of Gumaami baba was vague.
It is widely believed that Netaji was present at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s funeral on 27th May 1964 at Teen Murti Bhavan dressed as a monk. One theory is that it was a ploy set up by Netaji himself. It is believed that this was a measure to fool Allied forces and reach a safe place to continue his struggle.
Despite the ten investigation reports which concluded Netaji died on August 18, 1945, it has turned into a political murder mystery in India. The anticipation of the warrior’s death has turned to be of a more poignant value in recent years. We might never know the truth of 1945 but his legacy lives on.
Inputs: NDTV, Wikipedia and The Print