Spying on the Akali Dal in Calcutta and Punjab
Original Intelligence Branch file No: 701/1942: An IB officer named R E A Ray wrote on 31.8.1942, asking Sub-Inspector Pandit to find out: “Is Surta Singh, Akali, the same as Surat Singh, President, Bengali Akali Dal. The letter was mentioned in connection with the Bose Axis conspiracy.
“Surta Singh, Akali, referred to at page 12 is really the President of the Akali Dal Bengal. — Sd Addl Commissioner of Police.”
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Again, in a letter dated 6.6.1942, an intelligence official wrote: “Jatedhar Mohan Singh of Amritsar came to Calcutta on the last occasion on 30.5.1942 to sound Baldeo Singh of Tatanagar about his representing the Akali Siromoni Dal in Punjab ministry. There is not information to show how Jatedhar Mohan Singh came to know about the holding of the India Independence conference at Bangkok. The file on ‘War Rumour’ was looked into but no such ‘rumour’ about the conference at Bangkok could be traced.”
The Akalis’ links with Netaji’s freedom movement continued to be tracked for several years. In a letter on July 9, 1947, E W C Wace, the then DIG, CID, Punjab, headquartered in Lahore, wrote to Tolson, a top intelligence official:
“1. I have now received information that Jatedhar Mohan Singh of the Akali Takht, Amritsar, was detailed to meet an Akali named Surta Singh at Calcutta. Surta Singh is a proprietor of a hotel on the Harris-Mookerji (sic) Road and is reported to have a long anti-British record. Mr Singh’s mission was to instruct him to contact the Japanese if and when they invaded Bengal.
“2. This information is, I think, accurate and suggests that Surta Singh may be the link between India and enemy occupied territory east of India.”
Ban on playing the song Kadam kadam barhaye ja
The file originated in 1945-46, and the following letter was written just 12 days after India gained Independence.
“… The DIG IB reports that the song has been recorded by the Gramophone Company and is widely circulated and wants to know if under the present circumstances further action is desired…
“It may be noted that in accordance with the instruction of the Government of India, the DC, Special Branch, seized some records of the song and asked in his letter dated 5.4.1946 for advice as to disposal of them. In this department memo dated 7.5.46, he was informed in consideration of the changed situation in the country that the Government of India did not intend to prosecute the owners of firms which possessed the records for sale… As in recent times this song has been broadcast from different stations of the A.I.R., the question of banning it does not perhaps arise now. Sd/- R K S – 27.8.1947.
“Notes above. Whatever might have been the reasons for the issue of orders to the Gramophone Company Ltd. in February 1946, the present altered condition in the country does not justify any ban on the song Kadam Kadam Barahye Ja…
“I would suggest that our letter to the Gramophone Company be withdrawn and the DIG IB informed that no action needs to be taken in regard to the song Kadam Kadam Barahye Ja.”
A Short Note on Dr Sisir Kumar Bose… of 1, Woodburn Park, Calcutta
Dr Sisir Kr Bose, son of Sarat Chandra Bose, Netaji’s older brother, could have been the personality who was under surveillance for the longest time, first by the British, and then by the police of independent India. This file shows how closely he was watched for 22 years from 1946 to 1968. Excerpts:
“The subject came to notice on 9th May, 1946, when he took part in the reception of Maj. General Chatterji of INA on his arrival at Howrah station.
“On 8th Sept 1946, the subject delivered speeches at the meeting of the doctors and the medical students at University Institute Hall extolling Maj. General Chatterji…
“He also used to visit the office of the INA Relief Committee, Bowbazar.
“…In July 1958, he communicated with Emilie Shenkle of Vienna, intimating about his visit to USA and likelihood of his dropping at Vienna on way back.
“…In 1960 he communicated with Mia Akbar Sahah, BA LLB, of Peshwar, asking him… about Netaji’s journey from Peshwar to Russia in 1941.
“He being the secretary of the Netaji Research Bureau, 138/2 Elgin Road, made communication with some persons of Japan and Burma for securing materials for Netaji’s activities in Burma in the year 1963-64.
“…As the Executive Director of the Netaji Research Bureau, the subject made communication with Mr Jatsu Hayashia of Japan in August 1965 informing him about the sensational situation that arose in India regarding Netaji consequent to the publication of a series of articles by Dr Satya Narayan Sinha in Hindusthan Standard of Calcutta.
“…On March 29, 1968, a party was held at the local Pak chancery at 9, Circus Avenue, Calcutta. Attended by many guests, who arrived in cars, including the car bearing the number WBB 6927.
“On the 12th Jan, 1968 the subject attended the meeting at 1, Woodburn Park, Calcutta, of Jana Sangh leaders like Balraj Madhok, Haripada Bharati, and Amiya Nath Bose, founder of Azad Hind Front in West Bengal, and discussed over the proposed formation of a 3rd Front in West Bengal, composed of non-Congress and anti-Communist forces, for opposing the Congress and the Communists in the mid-term poll in West Bengal.”
Dissemination of Enemy Broadcasts by Licensed Owners of Wireless Sets
This file was created in 1942 in the Special Branch and Intelligence Branch Office of the British Police in Kolkata.
Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Branch: “Please see the suggestion of the Commissioner of Police for an immediate prohibition on broadcasting of all radio omissions of foreign origin in Arabic and in Indian vernaculars. The Circular letter is issued about the control of German broadcasts may also be seen. It is not known whether there is any power except that under Section 129(5) of the Government of India Act 1935 for the imposition of a prohibition as suggested by the Commissioner of Police irrespective of the contents of the matter relayed. If it is decided to pursue the matter, it will be necessary to address the Government of India. For orders.
“HM: If definite signs are visible of panic due to such broadcasts it will be time to consider action…”
The Commissioner of Police, Calcutta, noted: “There seems to be a failure to comprehend the damage that is being done by private listening of German news; also a failure to appreciate the fact that German broadcasts are likely to be used later for direct incitement to revolutionaries, when the trouble starts…”
The file kept moving, until finally the Secretary to the Government of India in 1942 intervened and urged the Chief Secretary to the Government of West Bengal to take necessary action:
“There is a certain amount of evidence that some people when tuning in to Axis Broadcasts tune their receiving sets at full blast, so that the bulletin can be heard at a considerable distance. Either from thoughtlessness or by intention, these people are making themselves liable to prosecution under the Rule 38A of the Defence of India Rules. Please consider whether any action can be taken to discourage this practice.”
Subsequently, there were many seizures and raids on owners of such wireless sets.