Astartling statement on Netaji’s Russian connection was made by the Congress MP Satya Narayan Sinha before the Khosla Commission in 1970. He said that Netaji was in the Soviet prison in Yakutsk in Siberia. He said that in 1954 he was informed about this by Kozlov, a Soviet agent. Kozlov never testified before any Commission of inquiry and as such, Sinha’s statement was treated as hearsay. Nevertheless, it triggered speculation that Bose had perished under unbearable conditions of the Siberian jail or that he was executed by Stalin’s order. Such speculation surfaced once again when an affidavit of 2003, submitted to the Mukherjee Commission, claimed that E N Komorov, Senior Research Professor, Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow, had said, “Let us take it this way. He [Netaji] was here and he died here.”
The Mukherjee Commission visited the Russian Federation in 2005 and examined Komorov. He denied having ever made any such statement. The Commission examined other Russian witnesses too, pursuant to the statements of the deponent who submitted the affidavit of 2003. Among them, examination of Raikov is particularly noteworthy. This is because it exposes the enormity of the falsehood propagated. Referring to the deponent’s statement on oath, the Commission asked Raikov whether he was appointed by the Russian government to deal with matters concerning Subhas Chandra Bose. Raikov’s answer was ‘no’. He was then asked, in reference to the same statement, whether he had access to the classified documents in the archives of Federal Security Bureau and Military Armed Forces of Russian Federation. He said: “It is absolutely absurd”.
The Commission asked if he had ever suggested that materials on Bose would be available in the archives of Omsk. Again, the answer was an emphatic ‘no’. There is also the story of a toplevel meeting on Bose in Soviet Russia allegedly told by Alexandr Kolesnikov, Former Assistant Chief of Staff of the Joint Armed Forces of the Warsaw Pact Countries. Mr Kolesnikov is said to have collected information from the Soviet military intelligence organisation [GRU] about a file which allegedly disclosed that in October 1946, Stalin, Molotov, Vyshinsky and Yaakov Malik were discussing in a meeting the decision to be taken about Bose. This is a classic example of hearsay. Has anyone ever heard Mr Kolesnikov quoting any file No. Besides, a question will always be asked as to why Mr Kolesnikov did not appear before the Mukherjee Commission to testify to this precious ‘information’. The excuse shown for his absence from the Commission’s hearing in Moscow is not convincing especially in view of the importance of the issue.
This counterfactual greatly influenced those who were overawed by the name and designation of the storyteller. Meanwhile, another story has been doing the rounds for some time that the Provisional Government of Azad Hind had an embassy at Omsk in Siberia and Bose was received there by one Kato Kochu. An interrogation report of Hachia, the Japanese envoy to the Provisional Govt. of Azad Hind, is often cited to make this story look authentic. A close examination of this report will reveal how it has been distorted to spread a false narrative. The interrogation report of Hachia Toruo, the Japanese envoy, says, “Source [Hachia] arrived in Rangoon in March ’45 without any credentials … BOSE stated that there would be NO official business until source’s credentials arrived…” “Source [Hachia] states that the Japanese Government did not appear to be in the habit of issuing credentials to its ambassadors to provisional governments; an ambassador by the name of Kato Kochu was sent without credentials to the Provisional Government of OMSK in Siberia.” Provisional Govt. of OMSK is shown as Provisional Govt. of Azad Hind at OMSK.
The Japanese ambassador Kato Kochu is also sometimes referred to as Netaji’s emissary to OMSK. The actual content of Hachia’s interrogation report is rarely brought into the public domain. In a desperate attempt to establish, without any documentary evidence, that Bose was killed in Russia, an analogy of the fate of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg is frequently drawn. Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Jews in Hungary from the Nazis, was abducted by the Soviet Army, and later killed in the Soviet prison. There are witnesses’ accounts and intelligence reports of Bose’s plan to visit Russia, his visit to Russia and his existence there in 1946. These records never said that he died a natural death in a Siberian jail or was executed by Stalin’s order. Wallenberg, on the other hand, did not voluntarily leave for the Soviet Union.
He was abducted by the Red Army. The joint investigations of Russian and Swedish authorities found evidence that Wallenberg had been executed in the Soviet prison. Not a shred of evidence has been produced in respect of Bose’s alleged death in Russia. The dissimilarities are too glaring to be ignored. In the name of evidence on Bose’s end in Russia, a fiction, therefore, has been dished out. Some loved it as they could not accept the possibility of his return to India from the ‘omnipotent’ Soviet Russia. Death in Russia also seemed much more glamorous than his return. The so called ‘death brigade’ successfully played on this psyche by circulating one fable after another. They should be stopped here and now.