London, Dec 22: Documents held at the National Archives here show that British intelligence had presumed that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose died in a plane crash in Tokyo in 1942, a new website providing documentary evidence of the last days of the Indian leader has claimed.
A new website created to chart the last days of the freedom fighter believes that the incorrect assumption by the British may explain why, when it was reported that Bose was killed in an air tragedy in 1945, many in India were hesitant to accept this story.
The founder of the Indian National Army escaped from house arrest in Kolkata in January 1941, disguised as a Pathan, to surface in Kabul before proceeding to Moscow and Berlin.
The website, www.bosefiles.info, claims: "British intelligence incorrectly concluded in a report dated January 25, 1941 that 'Bose's complete disappearance from the ken of the police in this country (India) is accounted for by his having sailed for the Far East some time in the middle of January bearded and bearing a forged passport'.
"Based on the theory, British authorities leaned towards giving credence to hearsay that he had died in a plane crash in Tokyo in March 1942.
However, when they heard Bose's radio broadcasts from Germany soon afterwards, they quickly changed their minds," it said.
A telegram marked "most secret" and dated May 27, 1942 from the commander-in-chief of British forces in India to the UK's War Office communicated, "This first definite admission Bose in or was in Berlin. Location of AZAD Hind Radio has been basis for our assumption either he was in or near Berlin."
The cable then quashed the earlier conjecture regarding death in a plane crash by adding: "Rumour of death in plane crash end March did not affect this assumption."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is scheduled to visit Moscow later this week, has assured members of Bose's extended family that he will take up with Russian President Vladimir Putin the issue of whether Bose escaped to the Soviet Union in or after 1945, instead of succumbing to a plane crash in Taiwan, as concluded by two official Indian inquiries into the matter.
Meanwhile, www.bosefiles.info and linked Twitter account @bosefiles plan to begin its own serialisation of the last days of Bose in weekly instalments from December 26 with the aim of completing the process in time for his birth anniversary in January 2016, a statement on the website said.