5 days after aircrash, British Raj analysed how to treat Netaji

New Delhi, Jan 24: Full five days after Subhas Chandra Bose was reported killed in a 1945 air crash, a top official of the British Raj had weighed the pros and cons of "trying" Netaji as a "war criminal" and suggested that the "easiest way" would be to leave him where he was and not seek his release.

"In many ways the easiest course would be to leave him where he is and not ask for his release. He might, of course, in certain circumstances be welcomed by the Russians. This course would raise fewest immediate political difficulties, but the security authorities consider that in certain circumstances his presence in Russia would be so dangerous as to rule it out altogether."


This was one of conclusions arrived at by Sir RF Mudie, Home Member, of the Clement Attlee government's India Office, which he sent to Sir Evan Jenkins, Home Secretary and the last Governor of Punjab, five days after Bose was reported to have been killed in the aircrash near the Taihoku aerodrome in Taipei on August 18, 1945.

The British Home Minister's letter and a note, dated August 23, 1945, dealt with Netaji's influence over almost 30,000 Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) and said "it affects all races, castes and communities almost equally strongly."

"They regard him with deep admiration, respect and confidence as a sincere patriot, as an able leader without peer, as the organiser of India's first 'National Army'," the note said about the "most difficult questions" which would confront the British Home Department.

The minister said various options -- ranging from Netaji's trial for waging war in India, or in Burma (now Myanmar) or Malaya (Malaysia) or intern him in "some other British possession eg Seychelles Islands" were considered.

However, he analysed the extreme impact it would have on the Indians in India and abroad and warned of a volatile situation in case of his trial and finally suggested that keeping Bose "out of sight would be to some extent out of mind and agitation for his release might be less".

The minister's letter and the note are among the 17,000 pages of secret documents in 100 files relating to Netaji declassified and made public by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Jan 23.

The letter was in response to Sir Evan's communication to the British home minister, saying His Excellency the King would want him to analyse and advise on how to deal with Bose, the men of the Indian National Army and his civilian supporters across the length and breadth of the country.


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