Last May, in response to an RTI petition, the government declared that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose did indeed die in a plane crash in the island of Formosa, now known as Taiwan, in 1945, and that his ashes were kept at the Renkoji Buddhist temple in Tokyo since September 1945. Instead of closure, however, this reply sparked indignation and anger from not just Open Platform for Netaji spokesman Sayak Sen, who had filed the RTI, but also Netaji’s grandnephew and Bengal BJP vice-president Chandra Bose, who declared: “This is an irresponsible move ... How can the government conclude Netaji’s death without concrete evidence?’’
Last year, both India and Japan declassified files relating to the leader whose disappearance 70 years ago still remains a mystery, with historians and family members challenging the official version citing lack of proof. Even before Independence, the Figgess Report in 1946 concluded that Netaji died in a plane crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945.
Two subsequent commissions of inquiry concurred. However, amidst strong and persistent rumours that Netaji had returned to India and lived the life of an ascetic, a third probe panel headed by Justice M K Mukherjee concluded the crash was a ploy to allow Bose to escape capture by the Allies. “Bose did not die in the plane crash ... the ashes at Renkoji temple are not his,” the commission said in its report to the government in 2006.
These findings were summarily rejected by the Congress-led government at the time. But on Sunday, media reports said Paris-based historian J B P More had stumbled upon a brief French secret service report, which appear to indicate that Netaji escaped from Indochina alive and his whereabouts were unknown as late as December 11, 1947. “
This implies he was alive somewhere but not dead in 1947,” More was quoted as saying. Regardless of the veracity of that report, it is clear that the mystery surrounding the iconic nationalist’s death is unlikely to be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction soon.