Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897. The central government founded three commissions, namely the Shah Nawaz Committee, the GD Khosla Commission and the Justice Mukherjee Commission, till now on the disappearance of Netaji. (Photo Credit: News Nation)
Who was Gumnami Baba or Bhagwanji of Faizabad? Was he India's iconic leader Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose? If yes, then why did Netaji live in hiding for almost 40 years after his 'official death' in 1945? All these questions are not new and have been in a public domain after the death of Gumnami Baba or Bhagwanji in Faizabad on September 16, 1985. Those who were born after Gumnami Baba's death have never seen such a big debate till now that is happening currently on Netaji's disappearance or so-called death in a plane crash. We are raising all these questions again as the Justice Vishnu Sahai Commission recently concluded its probe and its report was already tabled in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly in December last year.
The central government founded three commissions, namely the Shah Nawaz Committee, the GD Khosla Commission and the Justice Mukherjee Commission, till now on the disappearance of Netaji and the mystery that surrounds the national leader. We will explain the findings of these three commissions later in the story. However, the matter is not likely to settle soon even after the findings of these commissions, the latest being the Sahai Commission.
Some of the books such as 'Back from Dead: Inside the Subhas Bose Mystery' (2005) and 'India's Biggest Cover-up' (2012) written by Anuj Dhar and 'Conundrum: Subhas Bose's Life After Death' (2019) written by Chandrachur Ghose along with Dhar brought the Netaji Mystery at the centre-stage in the last 20 years or so. Both Dhar and Ghose are the founders of Mission Netaji, the group created to find out the truth behind Netaji's disappearance. Srijit Mukherji's movie 'Gumnaami', which claimed to be based on the Mukherjee Commission's hearings, was released last year. In 2017, ALTBalaji's web series 'Bose: Dead/Alive' was based on Dhar's book 'India's Biggest Cover-up'. All these books, movies and television shows have created the atmosphere in which the issue of Netaji's disappearance has finally become a matter of national significance. We will try to explain every aspect of the 'Netaji Mystery' through this set of three articles.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897. (File Photo)
Today (January 23) is the 124th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and we are publishing the first part of a three-part series. The other two parts will be published soon.
Let us start with this question first. Several reports have claimed that Gumnami Baba was a monk or saint who was living mysteriously at Ram Bhawan in Uttar Pradesh's Faizabad near Ayodhya. Many believed that Baba was none other than Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. In a 2013 India TV report (published on February 2), Baba's landlord Gurubasant Singh, his son Shakti Singh and Baba's neighbour Hira claimed or indicated on record that Baba was Bose himself. Many people also claim that Baba used to talk with everyone hiding behind a curtain and always tried to avoid the public. He died on the night of September 16, 1985 and was cremated on September 18 in the presence of 13 of his followers at the Guptar Ghat of Ayodhya.
It was also claimed that his followers waited for some persons to come from Calcutta (now Kolkata). Guptar Ghat was the same location where people believed that Lord Ram has ended his life. According to a 'The Times of India' report (published on September 16 in 2015), Sushila Devi, who was a tea shop owner, was one of the witnesses of Gumnami Baba's 'quiet cremation'. "We were puzzled to see the last rites being performed at the Guptar Ghat. The place is far away from the main ghat, generally used for cremation. Later, we came to know that it was the body of Gumnami Baba," she said.
Gumnaami Baba or Bhagwanji's 'samadhi' in Faizabad. (Photo: Debabrata Goswami, Pintrest)
Now, the question is why was Gumnami Baba secretly or quietly cremated on the outskirts of an Army Cantonment which was not a 'cremation ground' or 'shamshan ghat'. Soon after his death and cremation, the talk in the town turned into protests and agitation. Later, journalist Ashok Tandon wrote a story in his local daily 'Naye Log' on Gumnami Baba and Netaji.
In 1986, Tandon published his book 'Gumnami Subhas' and wrote several articles in 'Ganga' magazine between 1987 and 1988. According to a report in 'Scroll.in' on September 21, 2015, journalists Ram Tirth Vikal and Chandresh Kumar Shrivastav broke the Gumnami Baba story for 'Naye Log'.
"For six weeks after his death, Gumnami Baba was just like any other sadhu, who had left behind his caretakers fighting among themselves for his belongings," Vikal told Scroll.in. "With our story on October 28 that year (42 days after his death), Gumnami Baba became Netaji," he added.
Journalists Ram Tirth Vikal and Chandresh Kumar Shrivastav broke the Gumnami Baba story for 'Naye Log'. (File Photo)
Letters, Hand-Writing And More: Another newspaper 'Northern India Patrika' started a series called 'The Man of Mystery', which tried to find out the links between Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Gumnami Baba. Tandon, in one of his interviews, said: "Lalita Bose, one of the relatives of Netaji, confirmed in front of me that one of the books found at Gumnami Baba's place has her mother's hand-written note. She used to say that her father (Netaji's brother) told her that her Chachaji (Netaji) is alive and living somewhere in disguise (monk or sadhu). Tandon also said: "After the reports emerged that the state administration is likely to auction the belongings of Gumnami Baba, Kauser Hussain of Northern India Patrika along with Vishwa Bandhav Tiwari and Mohd Haleem approached the court to stop the auctioning. The court ordered the administration to make the inventory of all the things that were found at Baba's place and submit it to the treasury. One of the letters found at Gumnami Baba's place was written by Basanti Devi, wife of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, who considered Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as her own son."
WATCH ASHOK TANDON'S INTERVIEW BELOW:
He also claimed that Pabitra Mohan Roy, the ex-intelligence officer of INA, was constantly in touch with Gumnami Baba and all his letters and telegrams till 1985 were found at Ram Bhawan. Meanwhile, 'Conundrum: Subhas Bose's Life After Death' by Ghose and Dhar also revealed that several letters were written by Gumnami Baba to Roy from 1962 to 1985. According to the book, Roy met Gumnami Baba or Bhagwanji numerous times. Pabitra Mohan Roy's son Ranendra Mohan Roy recently told 'Hindustan Times' that he had no doubt that Gumnami Baba of Faizabad was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (Published on January 5, 2020).
The same book also claimed that American handwriting expert Carl Baggett in his testimony accepted that both Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Gumnami Baba were the same person after examining the letters written by both.
"Based upon a thorough analysis of these items and application of accepted forensic examination tools, principles and techniques, it is my professional expert opinion that the same person authored both the writing on the known and on the questioned documents," Baggett said in his testimony. The testimony was also published by 'The Times of India' in one of its stories on April 25, 2019.
Gumnaami Vs Bose Family: However, several family members and relatives of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose slammed the Bengali film 'Gumnaami' and 'Conundrum: Subhas Bose's Life After Death' and alleged that it is an insult to Netaji. "Why is a film being made on a cock and bull story? It amounts to insulting Netaji," said Sugato Bose, historian and grand-nephew of Subhas Chandra Bose. Sugato and his mother Krishna Bose both objected to the name Gumnaami which is taken from Gumnami Baba. More than 30 members of Netaji's family issued a statement that both are a part of the effort to malign Netaji.
"A book titled Conundrum and the film Gumnaami are both a part of the effort to malign Netaji. A DNA test conducted in 2005 conclusively proved that Gumnami Baba was not Netaji," said Chandra Kumar Bose, a grandnephew of Netaji and BJP leader (Hindustan Times, August 28, 2019).
In September 2019 also, family members of Netaji wrote an open letter alleging that Srijit Mukherji has changed the movie's name from Gumnami Baba to Gumnaami to get the CBFC's clearance.
A poster of Srijit Mukherji's movie Gumnaami. (Source: IMDB)
"For the past year, ever since Srijit Mukherji announced the film Gumnami Baba, he had said it is based on the book Conundrum by Chandrachur Ghosh and Anuj Dhar and (he) had appeared with the authors (at events). Now he (Srijit Mukherji) has suddenly changed his stance to get past the Censor Board and says the film is based on the Justice Mukherjee Commission report. He has also changed the name of the film," a statement said. However, the filmmaker rejected the allegations and said in a Facebook post, "What absolute nonsense and a bunch of lies! The name of the film from day one was Gumnaami, in all announcements including the teaser poster. And the decision to base the screenplay on the Mukherjee Commission report and not Conundrum, was made before the film was shot, months before this controversy. Clearly the Bose family thinks one can overnight change the screenplay of a film and shoot it."
Sayak Sen, the RTI activist, in 2017 rejected the reply of the Home Ministry to an RTI query on Netaji. The ministry said Netaji Bose died in a plane crash on August 18, 1945. Sen told news agency ANI: "The government's present conclusion that Gumnami Baba or Bhagwanji was not Netaji is apparently based on the reports of three commissions: Justice Khosla Commission, Shah Nawaz Commission and Justice Mukherjee Commission report. However, all are brutally flawed and contain certain loopholes. Justice Khosla never went at the airport. Shah Nawaz Committee consisted of three members and Suresh Chandra Bose, Netaji's brother was one of them who had filed a dissension report and disagreed with other two members of the committee. Justice Mukherjee also reported that there was never any such plane crash. How can you conclude the judgment on the basis of the flawed and bogus reports?"
There have been three theories related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's disappearance or death. The first one, which is also the official theory, says that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose died on August 18, 1945 in a plane crash at Taiwan's Taihoku Airport. According to the official version, Netaji met with an accident on August 18, 1945 and died at a Taipei hospital in the evening. In 1946, John Figgess in his report confirmed the death of Netaji in Taiwan on August 18, 1945. He said the reason behind Netaji's death was heart failure due to multiple burns (Published on 'The Indian Express' website on August 31, 2019).
Later, a classified Japanese government document also reached the same conclusion. According to a news agency PTI report, Bosefiles.info claimed the Japanese report was completed in 1956 and submitted to the Indian embassy in Tokyo. "Immediately after taking off, the airplane in which he (Bose) rode fell to the ground, and he was wounded," the report notes in its 'Outline of the result of the investigation'. "About 3 pm he entered the Nanmon Branch of Taipei Army Hospital" and that at "about 7.00 pm he died," the report added.
The findings also state that on "August 22, he was cremated (at the Taipei Municipal crematorium)". However, the Taiwan government informed the Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry that no air crash took place at Taihoku on August 18, 1945 (Published on February 3, 2005 by 'Outlookindia.com'). In fact, the government said that no plane crash occurred at Taihoku between August 14 and September 20, 1945. Another report published by 'The Times of India' on July 17, 2017 quoted historian JBP More who after carefully analysing a French secret service report of 1947, reached the conclusion that Netaji didn't die in the 1945 plane crash.
"It is not stated in the document that Subhas Chandra Bose died in the air crash in Taiwan. Instead, it is reported that Bose's present whereabouts were unknown as late as December 1947, which again implies that the French did not buy the theory that Bose died in the air crash on August 18, 1945," said More.
Was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose In Russia? The second theory says Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose didn't die in the air crash on August 18, 1945. This theory claims that the plane crash was orchestrated or its idea was floated in order to ensure the safe passage of Netaji to Russia (the Soviet Union then). However, this theory also says that Netaji was murdered in a Russian prison in the Soviet Union. Former Union minister and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy also believed that Netaji was killed in Russia. According to Swamy, Netaji didn't die in 1945 and he was killed by former Russian president Joseph Stalin. He also claimed that Jawahar Lal Nehru was aware of Netaji's captivity in Yakutsk Prison in Russia's Siberia after 1945.
"According to the papers that exist with us, Bose had faked his death and escaped to Manchuria in China which was under Russian occupation, hoping Russia would look after him. But Stalin put him in a jail in Siberia. Somewhere around 1953, he hanged or suffocated Bose to death," said Swamy ('India Today', January 10, 2015). Journalist Anuj Dhar in one of his books 'India's Biggest Cover-up' claimed the findings of British probe into Netaji's plane crash and his death in 1945 concluded that Bose was "trying to make a getaway to Russia."
Hindutsan Times published a story 'Bose was in Russia' on March 4, 2001.
In another turn of events related to Netaji's Russia connection, Narendranath Sindkar, a journalist, filed the affidavit before the Mukherjee Commission in which he claimed Subhas Chandra Bose met Nikhil Chattopadhyay (son of revolutionary Virendranath Chattopadhyay) at Russia's Omsk in 1968. The affidavit came into public gaze after it was released along with other classified PMO files in 2016. The affidavit also claimed that Netaji was living in Russia as he feared that he would be declared a war criminal.
"It was an exile because Netaji feared that he would be declared a war criminal with the connivance of Nehru. On his arrival in the then USSR via Manchuria, Stalin, Molotov Beria and Voroshilov consulted with the Indologists who advised Stalin to consult Krishna Menon in London through the Soviet embassy. Krishna Menon categorically asserted in favour of Nehru and urged Stalin not to divulge the information...," claimed Sindkar's affidavit ('The Economic Times', July 11, 2016). Meanwhile, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha said in July, 2019 that India asked Russia to provide information on Netaji whether he was in Russia or not after August, 1945.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose with Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. (File Photo)
"In its response, the Russian government has conveyed that they were unable to find any documents in the Russian archives pertaining to Netaji and even after additional investigations made based on the request from the Indian side, they could not find any documents giving more information on the subject," Muraleedharan said. Meanwhile, a new book claimed that Bose did not die in 1945 but was tortured to death by the British in the Soviet Union.
"Netaji didn't die in the plane crash. It was a theory floated to facilitate his escape to the Soviet Union. Japanese intelligence agencies had floated the theory so that Bose can safely escape to the Soviet Union," claimed Major General GD Bakshi (retired), author of the book 'Bose: The Indian Samurai - Netaji and the INA Military Assessment.'
Back to Gumnami Baba of Faizabad: The last recognised theory is that of Faizabad's Gumnami Baba, which we have already discussed. Dhar, author and journalist, and Ghose, writer, along with several other people in the country believe Baba or Bhagwanji was none other than Subhas Chandra Bose. Their book also considers the Gumnami Baba theory as the most acceptable theory of all the theories. The theory gets a big boost after some photographs of Netaji's parents and his family were found at Baba's trunk.
"The family photograph of the Bose family shows 22 members besides his parents. Lalita Bose, the daughter of Netaji's brother Suresh Chandra Bose, who visited Ram Bhawan in Faizabad on February 4, 1986 identified the people in the photographs, when they were at Ram Bhawan," Shakti Singh told 'The Times of India'.
Artist's impression of Bhagwanji or Gumnami Baba based on eyewitnesses' accounts first used by Hindustan Times.
According to media reports ('India Today', March 16, 2016 and 'The Indian Express', March 6, 2016 and 'Hindustan Times', February 27, 2016), several inland letters and telegrams sent to Baba by Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) veterans, Pabitra Mohan Roy and others, a German binoculars, a pen made in the USA, three foreign-made lighters and thermometers, a Philips transistor, a police manual, needles, a typewriter, a gramophone, several books including 'India Wins Freedom' by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, 'Himalayan Blunder' by Brigadier John Dalvi, 'Netaji Through German Lens' by Nanda Mookerjee, an Azad Hind Fauj uniform, a Rolex watch, newspaper clippings, and letters from the RSS headquarters and Leela Roy were also found in Bhagwanji's trunk. "The belongings are extraordinary for a sadhu. Most of the items are foreign made. They were also neat and organised. Most of the stuff is either from abroad or Kolkata," said Shakti Singh at that time.
A German binoculars and a typewriter were also found in Bhagwanji's trunk. (Source: Indiatimes.com)
The government of India in 1956 decided to form a three-man committee under Shah Nawaz Khan, who was a former Indian National Army member and one of the close aides of Netaji. Khan was captured by the British and put on trial in 1946 but was discharged due to intense pressure from the public.
The main objective of the committee was to find out the truth about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The other two members of the Shah Nawaz Committee were Suresh Chandra Bose and SN Maitra. Suresh Chandra was an elder brother of Netaji and Maitra was a nominee of the West Bengal government. The committee decided to deal with the last plans of Netaji, air crash at Taihoku, death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, cremation of Netaji's body, Netaji's ashes and INA's treasure. It began its work in April and finished it in July.
Shah Nawaz Khan later joined the Congress party and became the parliamentary secretary and deputy minister of railway and transport. (File Photo)
It examined 67 witnesses, including Habibur Rehman, Netaji's close aide who was with him during the flight, and Dr Yoshimi, who attended Netaji at the Taihoku Military Hospital. 32 witnesses were examined at Japan's Tokyo, 28 at Delhi and Calcutta (Kolkata now), 4 at Thailand's Bangkok and 3 at Vietnam's Saigon. The committee, however, failed to visit the crash site in Taihoku due to no diplomatic relations with Taiwan (Formosa then). According to the Shah Nawaz Committee report, the plane carried 13 or 14 persons in all including Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The plane was carrying General Shidei, Lt Col Sakai, Lt Col Nonogaki, Major Taro Kono, Major Ihaho Takahashi and Captain Arai. Major Takizawa was the chief pilot of the plane.
Habibur Rehman's Statement: Habibur Rehman in his statement said: "The number of occupants in the plane, including the crew, was 12 or 13. In the nose portion of the plane were probably a co-Pilot, a radio officer and a navigator. The seat of the pilot was behind them on the port side, and opposite to him on the star-board side was sitting Lt. Gen. Shidei. Immediately behind the pilot was sitting Netaji, and nobody opposite to him, as the space was restricted by the petrol tank. I was sitting immediately behind Netaji. The co-pilot's seat occupied by Lt. Gen. Shidei was offered to Netaji but he did not accept, as it was too small for him. In the turret was standing an officer of the Air Force, and in the rear portion probably four other officers of the Japanese Air Force or the Army. I do not exactly remember their ranks, except the names of one Lt. Col. Nonogaki and Capt. Arai whom I met later after the crash in the hospital." Rehman told the committee that Netaji used these words after the crash – "When you go back to the country, tell the people that up to the last I have been fighting for liberation of my country, they should continue to struggle and I am sure India will be free before long. Nobody can keep India in bondage now."
The Shah Nawaz Committee examined 67 witnesses, including Habibur Rehman, Netaji's close aide who was with him during the flight. (Source: netajipapers.gov.in)
The committee concluded, "From the evidence given by eye witnesses and the opinion of the expert, it is established that there was an aircraft accident at Taihoku on August 18 1945 due to some kind of engine trouble, whose cause cannot be established clearly in the absence of data."
According to the report, Dr Yoshimi informed the committee that Netaji breathed his last shortly after 8 pm at Nanmon Military Hospital in Taihoku. The report says: "He (Dr Yoshimi) made out a medical certificate of death in respect of the deceased, writing his name in Japanese (Kata Kana) as 'Chandra Bose' and giving the cause of death as "burns of third degree." The committee also stated that Netaji's ashes were kept in Japan's Renkoji Temple and suggested his ashes should be brought to India with due honour.
Suresh Chandra Bose's Dissenting Note: Initially, all members of the committee signed on the first draft of the report, but Suresh Chandra Bose later changed his stand and decided not to sign the final report. Netaji's brother also wrote a dissenting note and claimed that the committee had withheld some very important evidence from him, and it had been directed by Jawaharlal Nehru to infer death by a plane crash. He also alleged that the other members of the committee along with West Bengal's chief minister Bidhan Chandra Roy, tried to pressure him to sign the final report.
So, his dissenting note said that no air crash took place on August 18, 1945 in Taihoku and his brother Subhas Chandra Bose did not die. However, the final report of the committee was submitted to the government even after the dissenting note of Netaji's elder brother and was accepted by Parliament. It can be said that the committee failed miserably to dispel the notion among general public that Netaji did not die in 1945 after Suresh Chandra Bose's changed view. Shah Nawaz Khan later joined the Congress party and became the parliamentary secretary and deputy minister of railway and transport for 11 long years from 1952 to 1956 and again from 1957 to 1964.
A photograph of a wreckage of plane at Taihoku. (Source: netajipapers.gov.in)
He held the responsibilities of several ministries in the successive Congress governments including the ministry of food and agriculture in 1965, ministry of labour, employment and rehabilitation in 1966, ministry of steel and mines and ministry of petroleum and chemical industries from 1971 to 1973. Khan was also the chairman of National Seeds Corporation Ltd and Food Corporation of India (Source: Wikipedia). He became the member of the Lok Sabha from Meerut in 1951-52, 1957, 1962 and 1971.
In one of the sensational twists later, Suresh Chandra Bose alleged that Shah Nawaz Khan was a British agent who had betrayed his brother Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and assumed the rank of Major General in the Azad Hind Fauj (India National Army) without any authority ('Outlook', April 27, 2015). However, Khan refuted all the allegations against him before the GD Khosla Commission.
After the Shah Nawaz Committee, the Indira Gandhi-led government formed a new commission in 1970 under GD Khosla to probe the 'disappearance' of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Khosla was a retired chief justice of the Punjab High Court and there were no other members in the commission. The Khosla Commission, as compared to the Shah Nawaz Committee, took a lot of time in its probe and submitted its report to the government in 1974.
However, the commission backed the earlier reports or versions of John Figgess, Japanese government and Shah Nawaz Committee that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose died in an air crash in Taihoku on August 18, 1945.
Justice GD Khosla with former prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. (File Photo)
In all, 224 witnesses were examined by the GD Khosla Commission. However, former Congress MP Satyanarayan Sinha's deposition before the GD Khosla Commission created a lot of furore. Sinha had claimed that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was "imprisoned in cell No. 45 of a prison in Siberia's Yakutsk". Sinha told the commission that Netaji Bose didn't die in the crash and he was in Russia (the Soviet Union then) and added Kozlov, a former NKVD agent, met him in Moscow in 1954 and told him that Netaji was languishing in Yakutsk prison. However, the commission surprisingly ignored the Sinha's testimony ('The New Indian Express', December 20, 2014).
Rectangular Or Round Watch? The commission also dealt with the rectangular watch controversy. There were claims that the watch was removed from Netaji's body after his death in the Military Hospital in Taipei and was handed over by Jawahar Lal Nehru to Sarat Chandra Bose, elder brother of Netaji. Sarat Chandra Bose’s son Amiya Nath Bose produced the watch during the probe and said his father did not doubt Habibur Rehman's story.
According to Amiya Nath Bose, his father was very moved by seeing the watch and said, "I remember in December 1945 father took Netaji's death for granted. He was very moved by seeing the watch and said 'same watch...same watch'." However, others claim the watch had nothing to do with Netaji as he always used to wear a round Omega gold watch. On this claim, he said: "One thing I heard from many persons is that the round gold watch that he used to wear certainly did not reach Europe....That particular round gold watch could never come to East Asia."
Netaji Had Gold Or Gold-Covered Tooth? The GD Khosla Commission also took note of another controversy. There were claims that Netaji had a gold or gold-covered tooth. According to the commission, two relatives of Netaji made contradictory statements on this. Amiya Nath Bose claimed there were gaps in Netaji's teeth and he had one or two gold teeth.
"There was gold on one tooth at least; it was bound with gold," said Amiya Nath Bose. On the other hand, Aurobindo Bose (another nephew of Netaji and son of Suresh Chandra Bose) claimed: "So long as he (Netaji) was in India, we were very close to him personally, he did not have any gold tooth here." The commission also noted that Habibur Rehman during his deposition before the Shah Nawaz Committee said, "I remember distinctly that a little piece of gold which was from the filling of one of Netaji's teeth was removed and placed in the urn." But the commission observed since Rahman did not appear as a witness in its proceedings, his previous statement cannot be treated as evidence.
Finally, the commission in its findings said, "The plane took off 2.35 PM but within a few seconds one of the engines flew out and the plane crashed near the fringe of the Taihoku airfield. The body of the plane broke into two parts and caught fire. The pilot Takizawa and Genl. Shidei were killed inside the plane. The rest of the crew and passengers came out, but all of them had sustained burn injuries, two of them viz. Ayoagi and Bose had received very severe burns. The injured persons were carried to the army hospital a few kilometers from the airfield and given medical treatment. Bose had sustained burn injuries of the third degree and despite the efforts of the doctors to revive him, he succumbed to his injuries the same night. Of the other injured persons Ayoagi, the second pilot also died. Two days later, Bose's body was cremated and his ashes were carried to Tokyo in the beginning of September, 1945 where they were deposited in the Renkoji Temple."
"The numerous stories about encounters with Bose at various times and various places after 1945, are completely false and unacceptable. They are the result either of hallucination helped by wishful thinking or have been invented by persons who wanted to draw attention to themselves and advertise themselves as public-spirited men," the commission said in its conclusion.
The Indian government on May 14, 1999 constituted another commission to probe the 'death' or 'to re-inquire' into the alleged disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government appointed Justice Manoj Kumar Mukherjee, a retired Supreme Court judge, to head the commission of inquiry after the Calcutta High Court ordered it on April 30, 1998 to "launch a vigorous inquiry as a special case for the purpose of giving an end to the controversy."
The commission was formed to inquire into all the facts and circumstances related to the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in 1945 and other developments related with it including whether Netaji is dead or alive, if he is dead, whether he died in the plane crash as alleged, whether the ashes in the Japanese temple are ashes of Netaji, whether he has died in any other manner at any other place and, if so, when and how.
The commission examined 131 witnesses and visited Taiwan, Japan, UK, Bangkok and Russia. The Mukherjee Commission concluded that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose "is dead but he did not die in the plane crash, as alleged, the ashes in the Japanese temple are not of Netaji" and "...in the absence of any clinching evidence a positive answer cannot be given" to the terms of reference.
Justice Manoj Kumar Mukherjee Commission rejected the air crash story. (Source: Supreme Court of India's website)
The commission rejected the findings of the Shah Nawaz Committee (1956) and GD Khosla Commission (1970-74). The commission said the crash was a ploy to allow Netaji to escape to the USSR with the knowledge of Habibur Rehman and the Japanese and Taiwan governments. The commission in 2005 concluded that there is no proof of any plane crash at Taihoku airport on August 18, 1945 as documentary evidence such as a medical certificate, a cremation certificate, plane crash records etc are not available and "the ashes in the Japanese temple (Renkoji Temple) are not of Netaji."
It said the ashes collected were of Ichiro Okura, a Japanese soldier, and not of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and asked for a DNA test. The commission did not find any evidence that Gumnami Baba or Bhagwanji of Faizabad was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in disguise due to the findings of a DNA test. Five teeth out of nine found in Faizabad's Ram Bhawan along with blood samples from Netaji's relatives were sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Kolkata for DNA profiling test. According to the findings, "The individual (Gumnami Baba) – source of the teeth does not belong to either maternal or paternal DNA lineage of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, therefore, cannot be of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose."
The commission decided to send some handwritings found (allegedly of Gumnami Baba) at Ram Bhawan for comparison with the handwritings of Netaji and concluded that both "materially differ". While, B Lal, a former Government Examiner of Questioned Documents, opined that both Bengali and English handwritings were of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Amar Singh and ML Sharma of the Office of the Government Examiner of Questioned Documents, Simla and SK Mondol of Forensic Science Laboratory, Kolkata didn't agree with Lal and said both handwritings were different.
"Such divergent opinion and absence of any evidence from any person conversant with the handwriting of Netaji that the questioned writings were of Netaji is another impediment to the safe acceptance of the oral version given in this regard," the commission observed.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's last available photo at Saigon airport. (Source: Debajyoti Chakraborty)
The commission said "in the absence of any clinching evidence to prove that Bhagwanji-Gumnami Baba was Netaji, the question whether Netaji died in Faizabad (in Uttar Pradesh) on September 16, 1985 as testified by some of the witnesses, need not be answered." However, the Indian government of that time rejected the findings of the Mukherjee Commission. The government said: "The government may not accept the finding of Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry (JMCI) that he (Netaji) did not die in the plane crash since the absence of documents does not conclusively disprove the plane crash in the face of overwhelming oral evidence of those who survived the crash."
The government said that it "regretfully accept" the findings of the JMCI that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is dead and that it may not be now possible to comprehensively establish the circumstances of his death. On the matter of DNA test, the government quoted the Director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad that, "There is hardly any piece of bone apparently unburnt. Based on our past experience of trying to isolate DNA from such type of forensic samples, I can confidently say that there is hardly any possibility (may be about 1%) of getting any DNA at all. I would also like to point out that if we make an attempt to isolate DNA with such a low possibility, the total ashes will be used up in the process, and nothing will be left."
Netaji's Driver-Cum-Bodyguard Backed Mukherjee Commission's Findings: Nizamuddin, a 102-year-old man in 2006, also claimed that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose did not die in an air crash on August 18, 1945. "Netaji was not on the plane that crashed in Taipei in 1945, as he changed his plans to board aircraft at the last minute. He was not killed in the crash, but died a few years ago as Gumnami Baba in Faizabad," claimed Nizamuddin, the driver-cum-bodyguard of Netaji in the INA (PTI, May 17, 2006). He also claimed that he met Netaji and his brother Sarat Chandra Bose in 1946 over a bridge on a river in Thailand. He backed the Mukerjee Commission findings and said, "He (Netaji) did not die in the air crash. The plane did not carry him, but instead had on board Captain Ekram, Lal Singh, a Bengali soldier and a woman, all AHF members, besides two to three Japanese."
Justice MK Mukherjee's Shocking Off The Record Revelation: In his report, Justice Mukherjee concluded that Netaji didn't die in the 1945 air crash and due to lack of any "clinching evidence" it can't be said that Gumnami Baba was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. But in 2010, the biggest shocker came from Justice Manoj Kumar Mukherjee himself. The judge told filmmaker Amlan Ghosh, director of documentary 'History of Black Box', he "strongly believes Gumnami Baba of Faizabad was Netaji Bose in disguise."
"It is my personal feeling? Don't quote me? But I am 100 per cent sure that he (Gumnami Baba or Bhagwanji) was Netaji," he said. "Mukherjee said he had made the comments "strictly off the record". "I don't even want to talk about it. I had made those comments strictly off the record. If he (Amlan Ghosh) has disclosed these personal discussions, it is neither legally justified nor ethical," he said. "What I had said (in the film) concerns my belief. It has no legal basis. At the end of the day, what is important is what I had said in my report," he added.
WATCH VIDEO BELOW:
The next part of this series will deal with Sadhu Saradananda of Shaulmari Ashram, Lalita Bose and her petition, Tashkent Man, INA's treasure and declassified files relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Disclaimer: The opinions and facts expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. They do not reflect the views of News Nation. The NNPL does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
1. India TV Special - Gumnami Baba (India TV YouTube channel, February 2, 2013)
2. They cremated Gumnami Baba quietly at Guptaar Ghat (The Times of India, September 16, 2015)
3. How a small-town media war transformed one Gumnami Baba into Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (Scroll.in, September 21, 2015)
4. The Man Behind The Curtains (Chandrachur Ghose, Swarajya, October 09, 2015)
5. Ashok Tandon: The journalist who broke the Gumnami Baba story talks to Mission Netaji (Chandrachur Ghose YouTube channel, July 16, 2019)
6. Letters prove Netaji was Gumnami Baba: Book (The Times of India, April 25, 2019)
7. Now, Netaji associate's son questions panel report on Gumnami Baba (Hindustan Times, January 5, 2020)
8. Subhash Chandra Bose - Anuj Dhar (March 15, 2016)
9. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose died in plane crash in Taiwan, says 60-year-old Japanese report (India Today, November 30, 1999)
10. No crash at Taipei that killed Netaji: Taiwan govt (Outlook, February 3, 2005)
11. Netaji didn't die in 1945 air crash: French secret report (The Times of India, July 17, 2017)
12. Gumnami Baba case latest (Patrika.com)
13. Explained: How 'Gumnaami' has resurrected theories of Subhas Chandra Bose's death (The Indian Express, August 31, 2019)
14. Joseph Stalin was instrumental in killing Netaji: Subramanian Swamy (The Economic Times, September 29, 2018)
15. Was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in Russia till 1968? (The Economic Times, July 11, 2016)
16. Did Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose end up in Russia? (Hindustan Times, November 18, 2012)
17. Stunning twist to Netaji mystery: Bose pictures found in Gumnami Baba's trunk (India Today, March 16, 2016)
18. The Baba's belongings (The Indian Express, March 6, 2016)
19. Curiouser and curiouser: Gumnami Baba's belongings deepen Netaji mystery (Hindustan Times, February 27, 2016)
20. Family Photos Of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Found In Gumnami Baba's Box (Aaj Tak YouTube channel, March 16, 2016)
21. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Was Tortured To Death By The British, Claims New Book (HuffPost India, January 6, 2017)
22. Solving the Mystery of Netaji's 'Disappearance': Part One (The Wire, January 23, 2019)
23. 'You Could Become The Governor Of WB' (Outlook, April 27, 2015)
24. Plane crash theory on Netaji's death is rubbish: RTI activist (Business Standard, May 31, 2017)
25. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose kin reconcile with death in 1945 (The Times of India, December 4, 2019)
26. Netaji's family criticises upcoming film as an insult to him (Hindustan Times, August 28, 2019)
27. Netaji's family writes open letter criticising Gumnaami director (Hindustan Times, September 10, 2019)
28. Joseph Stalin killed Netaji in Siberia prison, claims Swamy (India Today, January 10, 2015)
29. The Prisoner of Yakutsk (The New Indian Express, December 20, 2014)
30. Solving the Mystery of Netaji's 'Disappearance': Part Two (The Wire, January 23, 2019)
31. 'Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had natural death' (DNA, May 19, 2006)
32. Netaji didn't die in aircrash: Mukherjee commission (PTI, May 17, 2006)
33. Report of the Shah Nawaz Committee
34. Report of the GD Khosla Commission
35. Report of the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry
36. 'UP monk was Bose in hiding' (India Today, January 29, 2010)
37. Netaji mystery: Justice Mukherjee's shocking revelation (Courtesy: Times Now)
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