Declassified UK Archives Shed Light on Nehru, Netaji Aide

Published: 26th October 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th October 2014 06:00 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: Newly released files from the UK archives describe Arathil Candeth Narayan Nambiar aka ACN Nambiar a key aide to both Subhash Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru-- the latter even appointed him as India’s envoy-- as a Soviet spy.

Untitled-66.jpgThe files were part of a bundle of papers titled the ‘Soviet intelligence agents and suspected agents’ which were released by the National Archives on Friday.

The summary by the National Archives says that ‘Nambiar’ was reported ‘by a defector source’ in 1959 to be an agent  of the Soviet GRU (military intelligence) since 1920s’.

Further, it was asserted that Nambiar claimed that his last post as an European correspondent for an Indian national newspaper ‘was a cover for industrial intelligence collection’.

Incidentally, while the Archives have declassified four catalogue references, only the first one has been digitised and put on the website. The uploaded files, which include 218 scanned pages, however, do not include any reference to any suspicion of the British intelligence that ‘Nambiar’ was a Soviet spy and therefore the allegations in the summary cannot be checked.

Nambiar first went to Berlin in 1924 to work as a journalist and he kept in touch with Indian Communists and anarchists like Virendra Nath Chattopaday, brother of Sarojini Naidu. Incidentally, Nambiar was married to Naidu’s younger sister, Suhasini. After remaining estranged for long, they couple finally got divorced in 1936. Due to his involvement with the Communist groups and visit to the Soviet Union in 1929, he fell foul of the German government during the outbreak of World War II and was deported.

But, due to some pressure from Subhash Chandra Bose whom he met in Prague, Germans allowed him to return as Netaji’s deputy.  When Bose moved to the Far East, he became the leader of the Free India Centre in Europe, which was financed by the Germans. He also looked after the Indian Legion, which consisted of Indian PoWs.

When the war ended, he was arrested in Austria in 1945 as a Nazi collaborator. In fact, the long interrogation report where Nambiar, uploaded on the archives website, speaks in detail about the activities of Bose, including propaganda strategy by Azad Hind Rao and the military training by various groups in Europe.

Interestingly, a note dated in 1955 appended before the interrogation report pointed out that the file should be given special attention as the subject had been made Indian Ambassador in West Germany, mainly due to largesse of Pandit Nehru.

Subhash Chandra Bose’s grand-nephew and TMC MP Sugata Bose had read the interrogation report ‘years ago’ and referred to it in his 2011 book on Netaji, His Majesty’s Opponent. “He (Nambiar) was a great patriot and an excellent aide to both Netaji and Nehru,” Sugata told Express.

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