While the truth about how Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose died remains shrouded in mystery, a Paris-based historian has claimed that the freedom fighter did not die in the air crash of August 18, 1945. Historian J B P More has based his theory on an old French secret service report that was dated December 11, 1947. More chanced upon the report at the National Archives of France.
The government of India has over the years set up various commissions to probe and determine the cause, date and circumstances of Bose’s death. The Shah Nawaz Committee (1956) and the Khosla Commission (1970) stated in their investigation reports that Bose had died in an air crash on August 18, 1945 in then Japanese-occupied Taipei, at the Taihoku airport. At the same time, the Mukherjee Commission (1999) in its report refuted that Bose died in the crash. Although the report’s findings were rejected, the debate around Bose’s death continued and historians kept scouring for documents and evidence to find out the truth.
The report that More found suggested that Bose was alive in 1947. According to a report in the Economic Times, More said that “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.”
More teaches at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Economiques et Commerciales, Paris. As More points out, the document doesn’t talk about his death. Instead, it only shows that they didn’t believe in the theory of Bose’s death. More’s representation of the French secret service in the matter shows that the French believed Bose had escaped from India and that he was alive till at least December 11, 1947, the date of the secret service note.
Death due to air crash is the most commonly held theory of Bose’s demise and several reports have concluded the same according to evidence and interpretation of circumstances. However, Bose’s body was never found and some even believed that he lived on for decades after the independence.
“He escaped from Indo-China border alive and his whereabouts were unknown as late as December 11, 1947, as reported in the secret document. This implies that he was alive somewhere but not dead in 1947,” said More in the ET report citing the French report written for the “Haut Commisariat de France for Indochina” SDECE Indochinese Base BCRI No.41283 csah Ex No. 616, under the title: “Archival Information on Subhas Chandra Bose.”
More said that: “In this report, it is clearly stated that he was the ex-chief of the Indian Independence League and a member of Hikari Kikan, a Japanese organisation. It is further stated clearly that he escaped from Indochina, though it does not state how.”
Earlier in May this year, the Union Home Ministry had said in an RTI reply that Netaji had indeed died in a plane crash in Taiwan in 1945. The government said: “After considering the reports of Shahnawaz Committee, Justice G D Khosla Commission and Justice Mukherjee Commission of Enquiry, the Government has come to the conclusion that Netaji has died in plane crash in 1945,” adding that “Some information regarding Gumnami Baba and Bhagwanji is available in Mukherjee Commission report on page 114-122. This report is available in mha.nic.in. Mukherjee Commission had come to the conclusion that Gumnami Baba/Bhagwanji was not Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Ministry of Home Affairs has declassified all available files (37) relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.’’