While the mystery over the death of Subhas Chandra Bose persists, the declassified Netaji files released online by the government on Saturday show that the Central government had made up its mind on the matter over two decades ago.
Rejecting the findings of a committee that probed the disappearance of the freedom fighter, a Union Cabinet note of February 1995 said, “There seems to be no scope for doubt that he died in the air crash of 18th August 1945 at Taihoku. Government of India has already accepted this position. There is no evidence whatsoever to the contrary.”
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The government had received a series of letters at the time from MPs and others to settle the matter.
The declassified files were released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the occasion of Bose’s birth anniversary, at the National Archives Saturday. Bose’s family members were present on the occasion.
Nearly a decade later, the UPA government rejected the findings of another commission, set up in 1999, to ascertain whether Bose had died in the plane crash, and whether the ashes at the Renkoiji temple in Tokyo were his. The Mukherjee commission, that submitted its report in November 2005, discounted both the plane crash theory as well as the claim that the ashes at the Renkoji temple were of Bose.
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On May 11, 2006, Additional Secretary Vijay Sharma (Home) wrote to Home Secretary V K Duggal about a cabinet meeting that had discussed the Justice Mukherjee Commission report, and said, “The government did not agree with the findings that: a. Netaji did not die in the plane crash, and b. the ashes in the Renkoji temple were not of Netaji.”
He added, “The commission’s inquiry was inconclusive in many ways, unable to provide a definitive finding on several issues and at variance with past, well-accepted inquiry commissions’ findings in some critical areas.”
On the same issue, the 1995 Cabinet had also stated: “If a few individuals/organisations have a different view, they seem to be more guided by sentimentality rather than by any rational consideration.”
Two commissions before them — Shah Nawaz Committee and G D Khosla Commission — had concluded that Bose had died in the plane crash.
Many people had approached the government to resolve the mystery of Netaji’s disappearance. George Fernandes wrote a letter to then PM Narasimha Rao in July 1994 noting that the “controversy over the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose death needs to be settled without further delay… I notice that there is now a dispute about bringing into India the ashes of Netaji… You must take some initiative in this manner… It does not behove our country to keep the ashes of Netaji in Japan despite repeated requests from the Japanese that they be returned to India.”
The files have several pictures of the Renkoji temple in Tokyo, besides letters by persons such as a former Karnataka chief minister and Bose’s relative Ashis Ray urging the government to bring back the urn to India.
Hundred declassified files were released online today, and contain 36 files of Prime Minister’s office, 18 files of the Ministry of Home Affairs and 46 files of the Ministry of External Affairs, dealing with issues like Bose’s death and the Indian National Army.