Interview: "On Bose death, Nehru committed the original sin"

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Bengaluru, Jan 13: Will the mystery surrounding Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose ever be solved? Was Netaji killed in an air crash or was he eliminated by Russian dictator Stalin as claimed by Dr Subramanian Swamy? These are all mysteries and once the government de-classifies the files the truth will be known to all.

Anuj Dhar's latest book India's Biggest Cover up has gone into details of this mystery. In this interview with Oneindia, Dhar said had there been a Congress-led government at the Centre, there was no chance of the files being de-classified.

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Anuj Dhar

However, he has full faith that the government of the day will de-classify these mystery files.

Dr Subramanian Swamy recently said that Bose was killed by Stalin. What are your views on this?

Going by available data, I am convinced as a researcher and former journalist that Netaji was in Soviet Russia after August 1945, when he reportedly died in an air crash.

The story of the crash had been planted by the Japanese to let Bose make good his escape to the only country which could have given him shelter at that point in time.

In fact, months before the Second World War ended, Bose had been preparing his next move to keep his struggle on. He wrote a letter to Russian ambassador in Tokyo in October 1944, seeking Russia help in Indian freedom struggle.

Soviet Russia and Japan had remained friends till about the end of the war in 1945. There are intelligence reports suggesting that Netaji made a secret trip to Soviet Russia in December 1944 to discuss Indian situation.

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From the start, Subhas Bose had been pro-Russia in his outlook and the Russians reciprocated. They saved Netaji's life in 1941 by helping him escape to Berlin.

Otherwise, he would have been apprehended and executed in Kabul. To think therefore that the same Russians, the same Stalin regime, would eliminate him after he had been given shelter in their country defies logic.

But then, a strong suspicion persists in New Delhi circles in view of Stalin's brutal track record. However, suspicion is not evidence. Dr Swamy is correct, in my view, when he says that Bose was in Russia. He is rendering national service yet again by flagging the matter. However, there is no evidence as of now to show that Netaji was killed in Russia.

Do you have any expectation that this government will declassify the files?

For the first time we have a government whose several ministers either publicly or privately have committed themselves to do something about the settling the controversy surrounding Netaji's fate. Hence, I do expect that this government would do something, provided it sees widespread public outrage.

While denying me relevant information in November last year, the Prime Minister's Office stated that there was no larger public interest in seeking release of classified Netaji files. Now, the onus is on the public to belie this misconception.

The Modi government, unlike that of Dr Manmohan Singh, is susceptible to public pressure over the Netaji matter. Come hell or high water, a Congress-led government would have never told the truth; but one led by BJP would buckle under pressure.

It is said that Bose faked papers to escape to China. Your views:

Today it stands established that the news of Netaji's death in an air crash in Taiwan was planted by his Japanese benefactors in order to create a smokescreen so that he could escape to Soviet Russia, via Manchuria.

The entire story of Netaji's death was based on the statements of a few "eyewitnesses", including his fiercely loyal ADC Habibur Rahman.

Colonel Rahman's interrogation reports, declassified in 1997, clearly bring out that he was not being truthful about his leader's death. He even dropped hints to Netaji's brother that he was acting under Subhas's orders.

In order to make the story of death appear believable, the Japanese passed off the body of a solider named Ichiro Okura as that of Netaji's. The ashes kept in the Renkoji temple in Japan today are of this Japanese solider only. That's the reason why our Government, which knows the truth, hasn't carried out a DNA test on these remains.

Was Nehru aware that Bose was killed by Stalin?

There is considerable data on record to show that Government of India received enough intelligence to suggest that Netaji could have been in Soviet Russia. Nehru sent his own kid sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit to Soviet Russia as free India's first representative.

But she wasn't even granted an audience with Stalin, who, on his part, hated Nehru. Stalin viewed India suspiciously as a commonwealth state. Therefore, to think, as Dr Swamy does, that Stalin got Netaji killed in connivance with Nehru makes no sense.

Officially, Government denies that the issue of Netaji was ever taken up with the Russians in the Nehruvian era. Unofficially, it has been alleged that both Pandit and her successor Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan came to know about Netaji's presence in Soviet Russia but the government left Bose out in the cold.

Why do you think the government of the day did not act on Bose issue?

Initially all leaders -- Gandhi, Nehru and others -- felt that Bose was alive. Making a statement as the Home Member (Minister) Sardar Patel said as late as October 1946 that the interim government was not in a position to confirm the news of Bose's death.

A sudden turnaround came towards late 1946 as Jawaharlal Nehru announced that Bose had died in Taiwan.

This was the original sin and from that time it has become a sort of gospel for our government and official historians. Ministers come and go but this eternal truth remains the same.

All efforts have been made since that time to twist evidence and narrative so that it can conform to the gospel as spoken by Nehru. Eventually Patel also fell for it and today for the BJP the trouble would be that if Nehru's stand is shown to be false, so would be Patel's.

Given the current situation of our government sitting on piles of classified records and refusing to seek access to the secret Russian records, getting all the answers and explanations is not possible. The gap is at times filled by conspiracy theories.

It was stated once in Parliament by a member that the reason for Nehru's changed stand was his meeting with Louis Mountbatten, the Allied commander who crushed Japanese army/INA challenge in SE Asia and would be first Governor General of free India.

It was stated by that particular lawmaker that Mountbatten asked Nehru a simple question. "If Bose comes back to India, who will be the Prime Minister?" Bose did not die in Russia, but the role of the Indian established, especially of Nehru, was most negative in the entire matter.

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