From the first government led by Jawaharlal Nehru to the Narendra Modi regime today, every administration has been convinced about the “truth” of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s disappearance but made no effort to bring back his remains from Japan, says his grandnephew and author Ashis Ray.
Various governments made little attempt to reach out to those in Bose’s extended family and political parties who have been opposing the return of the national leader’s remains from Tokyo’s Renkoji temple, Ray said. The question of how and when one of the great heroes of the Indian freedom movement died has been an enduring mystery over the decades but Ray hopes to end the debate with his recent book, “Laid to Rest: The Controversy over Subhas Chandra Bose’s Death”.
The book collates the findings of 11 different investigations into the death of one of the great heroes of the Indian freedom movement and concludes that he died on August 18, 1945 in a plane crash in Taipei.
“From the Nehru government to the Modi government, every single Indian administration have been convinced about the truth but has failed to bring the remains to India,” Ray told PTI over the phone from his home in London. “The government of India pays for the preservation of the remains at Tokyo’s Renkoji temple. A section of Bose’s extended family and some political parties have, of course, opposed their return. But no sincere effort has been made by the central government to reach out to such opponents,” the writer said.
In 1995, then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao and his external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee did make an attempt to bring the remain back, but could not complete the task, he said, holding the other governments guilty of negligence. The country, Ray feels, “has done a great injustice to Bose by not honouring his memory”.
The researcher-author added that he penned his book for humanitarian reasons. “I embarked on writing it for humanitarian reasons. Bose’s wife Emilie Schenkl was not granted the satisfaction of closure on her husband’s passing. His daughter Anita Pfaff has been pleading with India government to bring his mortal remains from Tokyo, but without success. It was about time the truth was presented comprehensively, to enable Pfaff fulfill her wishes,” he said.
In his book, he has mentioned 11 official and unofficial investigations, including four Indian, three British, three Japanese and one Taiwanese. Most of these were not in the public domain. Each of these, Ray stresses, states that Bose died as a result of a plane crash at Taipei on August 18, 1945.
“It is also based on interviews with Dr Taneyoshi Yoshimi, who was in-charge of the Japanese military hospital where Bose died. I have also mentioned Naeemur Rehman, son of Colonel Habibur Rehman, Bose’s ADC who survived the crash, and Yukichi Arai, son of Captain Keikichi Arai, a Japanese military officer who, too, survived the cash. It doesn’t get more comprehensive and conclusive than that,” Ray said.
The foreword for “Laid to Rest…” has been written by Netaji’s daughter Pfaff, who used the forum for again demanding a DNA sample from the remains in the Tokyo temple. “For most of those people who continue to doubt Netaji’s death in Taihoku in August 1945, one possible option for proof would be a DNA test of the remains of Netaji – provided DNA can be extracted from the bones remaining after his cremation. However, the governments of India and Japan would have to agree to such an attempt,” Pfaff wrote.
Asked whether the book would be able to do justice to its title and put an end to the controversy around Netaji’s death, Ray said several eminent persons had described it as a white paper, which the Indian government could have produced, but never did.
“Only time will tell whether the book lays the controversy to rest. What I can claim is I have provided enough ammunition to Indian authorities to justify bringing Bose’s remains to India. Given the disrespect that has been shown to Subhas Bose for over 72 years, it was about time the subject of his death was laid threadbare.”