On Friday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declassified 64 files related to freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose and released them to the public. The files, comprising almost 12,000 pages, were first released to Netaji’s family and then to journalists and the public. The files are also on display at the Kolkata Police Museum and will be digitised soon, the chief minister said.
Among these files are personal correspondences between Netaji and his elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose, the British intelligence’s analysis of Netaji’s speeches at various public meetings and invitations given to him to attend various functions.
The files not only raise questions over his death in a plane crash in 1945 in Taipei, but also reveal the extent of surveillance his family was put under. Spread across the files are various references to Netaji “being alive”.
For instance, in 1949, the state intelligence intercepted a letter written by Swiss journalist Dr Lilly Abegg to Netaji’s brother Sarat Chandra Bose. In it, Abegg said, “I heard in 1946 from Japanese sources that your brother is still living.”
The files show that while Bose never returned to Europe to his daughter and wife Emilie Schenkl, they continued to write to Netaji’s family after his disappearance. An intercept, recorded in the Calcutta Police Security Control’s Weekly Survey — dated May 4, 1946 — refers to Schenkl as a person who “claims to be the widow of Subhas Chandra Bose”.
It added that she “joined Subhas Bose in Berlin in April 1941 and remained with him until the autumn of 1942… Bose proposed to her and they were married in January 1942. On November 29, 1942, a daughter was born… Emilie Schenkl returned to Vienna from Berlin in September so as to avoid talk…”
While welcoming the Bengal government’s decision to declassify 64 files pertaining to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the relatives of the nationalist leader said they hoped the Centre too would make public similar documents in their possession.
Also demanding a probe into the “surveillance of the family”, Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose maintained that a crucial file, pertaining to Bose’s disappearance, was destroyed in 1972. “According to the information, the file relates to the disappearance of Netaji,” he said.
Reiterating that it was high time the mystery surrounding Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s last days was solved, CM Mamata Banerjee urged the Centre to declassify the files on the nationalist leader in its possession.
“It has been 70 years and it is extremely unfortunate that mystery still shrouds the life of one of India’s biggest national heroes and freedom fighter. The truth must come out now. It will come out. How long will the central government keep the files hidden?” Mamata asked.