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Abiding Mystery-I

Neither Habib‘s narrative nor the argument that Japan had confirmed Netaji‘s death is true. To cap it all, Taiwan’s enquiry proved the theory of crash and death false. Nevertheless, there have been other attempts to legitimize the alleged death in an air crash on 18 August 1945.

NANDALAL CHAKRABARTI | New Delhi |

Attempts are being made once again, to rake up the long-discarded story of Netaji’s death in a plane crash in Taiwan on 18 August 1945. This is absurd in view of Taiwan’s declaration that there was no such crash from 14 August 1945 to 25 October 1945. But those who have renewed the campaign show Col. Habibur Rahman’s account and Dr. Yoshimi’s statements as clinching evidence.

They also propagate a falsehood that the Japanese had accepted Netaji’s death in an air crash in Taiwan. We will first deal with Habib’s statement. Netaji’s aide, Colonel Habibur Rahaman stated that the plane nose-dived (ref: Report of Ayer, Minister of Azad Hind Govt. and recorded in the ‘Dissentient Report of Suresh Chandra Bose p.93).

He said that as the plane crashed, he lost consciousness. When he regained consciousness, he found the entire luggage had crashed on him. The front was on fire and the rear was blocked by the luggage. When Netaji was about to move in his direction, he said, “Aagese nikliye Netaji” as the passage to the rear was blocked by luggage. Habib also said that the plane did not have any seats. It is elementary that passengers sitting on the floor would hit the front the moment the plane, nose-diving, crashed on the airfield.

But, amazing that even after the luggage had fallen on him, Habib stayed where he was and the luggage conveniently remained immobile despite the crash to block the passage to the rear, so that the burning front remained the only way to go out. Habib must have also come through it, but he had only minor burns and his clothes remained unburnt. One fails to comprehend how this is found clinching.

Next, what the crash brigade relies on as gospel truth is the so-called death certificate signed by Dr. Yoshimi. But Dr. Yoshimi who claimed to have treated Bose after the alleged accident did not sign any death certificate in the name of Subhas Chandra Bose in 1945. He signed the death certificate in the name of Subhas Chandra Bose in 1988.

Has anyone ever seen a death certificate signed 43 years after death? One of the crash theory propagators, Ashis Ray, says in his latest book, ‘Laid to Rest’ that in January 1956 the Japanese government produced the final report after a full investigation into Bose’s death.

However, in response to Shah Nawaz Committee’s request, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Japan, informed in June 1956 that ‘no official enquiry commission was held so far’ to investigate Netaji’s alleged death. It will be seen shortly, that far from being a full and final report, what Japan sent to the Indian embassy was in no way related to Netaji.

Ray wrote to the Government of India in 1994 that the Japanese government had confirmed Netaji’s death and its report existed in the archives of the Indian Embassy, Tokyo.

The lie was exposed by a note from the Joint Secretary of External Affairs, Govt. of India.

R S Kalha, Joint Secretary (AP) of External Affairs, Govt. of India, informed in his note dated 10 November 1994 that in response to a query by the Indian Embassy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Japan sent a letter dated 24 July 1956 and informed that the cremation permit in the name of Mr. Ichiro Okura was believed to be that of Mr. Subhas Chandra Bose [25/4/N.G.O. VOL.IV (LW-KW-I).

Kalha wrote in his note, “for us to state on this basis that the Japanese Government had indeed confirmed the death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose would be going beyond the scope of Japanese Govt.’s letter…” In this context, it is necessary to refer to an enquiry conducted by the Formosan [Taiwan’s] government at the instance of the British in 1956.

The Report of this enquiry was submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India. The Report says that Li Chin Ki and Tan Ti-Ti were in charge of Cremation Permits. They told Formosan Police that a Japanese officer submitted a death certificate of one Ichiro Okura. The date of death mentioned in the certificate was 19 August 1945 and not 18 August 1945 [Exhibit 229 of Mukherjee Commission].

Both Li and Tan Ti -Ti said that they could not identify the body with a death certificate of Ichiro Okura as that of Subhas Chandra Bose, because they never saw Bose. The Report also said that C K Yen, Chairman, Formosa’s Provisional Govt. wrote to A.A.E. Franklin, the British Consul, that there was no record of his [Netaji’s] actual death. This report was the strongest evidence against the campaigns unleashed by the crash brigade.

But instead of considering it, they took recourse to one falsehood after another. Neither Habib’s narrative nor the argument that Japan had confirmed Netaji’s death is true. To cap it all, Taiwan’s enquiry proved the theory of crash and death false. Nevertheless, there have been other attempts to legitimize the alleged death in an air crash on 18 August 1945.

Before dwelling on them, we would examine briefly what was done in the name of enquiry under the Shah Nawaz Committee and Khosla Commission.

In 1956, a three-member Committee with Shah Nawaz Khan of INA as its chairman was appointed to ‘enquire into and report to the Govt. of India on the circumstances concerning the departure of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose from Bangkok on or about August 16, 1945, and his alleged death as a result of an aircraft accident…’. Shah Nawaz then was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Railways. The other members were Sri Suresh Chandra Bose, elder brother of Netaji, and Mr. S N Maitra, ICS, Chief Commissioner of Andaman and Nicobar islands.

While Shah Nawaz and Maitra accepted that Netaji had died in a plane crash on 18 August 1945, Suresh Chandra Bose disagreed, and wrote in his Dissentient Report that there was no such plane crash. It is highly significant that in 1952, Prime Minister Nehru, replying to the question of Mr. H.V. Kamath in Parliament, stated, “… the question of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s death, is, settled beyond doubt.”

Then, why did the Nehru government appoint an enquiry Committee? The answer lies in the attempt to form a non-official enquiry Committee. On 6 November 1955, a decision was taken in a meeting of the Netaji Smarak [Memorial] Committee at Calcutta that a Non-Official Committee would ascertain whether Netaji was dead or not.

The government of India, apprehending that its stand might be rejected by this Committee, appointed the Shah Nawaz Committee. Shah Nawaz started the enquiry with a pre-determined objective of establishing Netaji’s death. In May 1956, in Tokyo, he made a Press statement that “his mission was mainly to interview people who might offer direct evidence on Shri Bose’s death.”

No wonder Shah Nawaz found most authentic the investigation report of Harin Shah, editor of an INTUC journal. Harin Shah brought a death certificate of one ‘Okara Ichiro’ who had a heart attack on 17 August and died on 19 August 1945. If this is to be believed as Netaji’s death certificate then Netaji as Okara had a heart attack one day before the reported crash, 18 August, and died one day after the reported crash on the 19th. How did this lead Shah Nawaz to conclude that Netaji had died on the 18th?

This is not the only example of the absurdity of what was relied upon as evidence. We have already seen how Habib’s impossible narrative was accepted. Now, consider the following shocker. Habib said the plane nose-dived to the ground from a height of 1000 feet. Mr. Shastri (witness No.67 of Shah Nawaz Committee], an Aircraft Inspector of the Accidents Investigation Branch, Civil Aviation Department, Govt. of India, stated before the Committee that a crash from a height of even 150 feet would cause a “major” accident. If Habib’s version of the height of 1,000 feet is accepted, the impact of the crash would have instantly killed all. But 6/7 so-called co-passengers including Habib, with minor injuries, survived. Shah Nawaz did not bother about such glaring anomalies.

(To be concluded)