A day after Sreejith Panickar of Mission Netaji alleged on Twitter that the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) based in Kolkata was refusing to divulge its findings from the remains of Gumnami Baba — a recluse who many who knew Subhas Chandra Bose in person believe to be Netaji — in the name of national security, it has been confirmed that it was the government that ordered the forensic body to not disclose the result. The CFSL, which reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), has cited Sections 8(1)(A), (E) and 11(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, to refuse to make the information public. Section 8(1) of RTI Act permits government from withholding information that it believes would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity or India, the security, strategic, economic interests of the state.
Sayak Sen, a resident of Konnagar in Hooghly, who had been researching on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, had filed the RTI query on 24 September. He said that the CFSL had rejected his RTI application, refusing to share the electropherogram report based on three reasons.
An electropherogram is a plot of results from an analysis done by automatic sequencing using electrophoresis. The process provides a sequence of data that is produced by an automated DNA sequencing machine. Electropherograms may be used for deriving results from genealogical DNA testing and paternity testing.
"I have been officially told that the electropherogram cannot be given for three reasons. Most importantly, making it public can affect the sovereignty of India and its relationship with foreign states," Sen said.
In his RTI, Sen had asked additionally why a man who stayed in a remote area in Uttar Pradesh would matter so much to international relations of India and cause a stir in the country if his electropherogram is made public.
"Clear indication that Gumnami Baba was much more than a comman man, and was special. I believe that he was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in disguise as per all my findings," Sen told a magazine.
Sen is known to be associated with Mission Netaji, a pressure group comprising former journalist Anuj Dhar, former business analyst Chandrachur Ghose, popular Malayalam television personality Sreejith Panickar and hundreds of other activists from varied fields of work who have been chasing every possible evidence to prove Bose did not die in 1945.
It is rumoured that Bose died in a plane crash on 18 August 1945, in Taiwan, the day when aviation records show no aeroplane crashed anywhere in the world. Many believe Netaji, by then known to have mastered the art of deceiving the British authority, staged the whole drama and fled. They say he survived the accident and went into hiding to escape the then British government.
While some members of Mission Netaji always suspected Gumnami Baba, who eventually died in 1985, to be Netaji in disguise, Dhar and Ghose made their theory official with the publication of the book, Conundrum: Subhas Bose's Life After Death, in 2019.
Reacting angrily to the CFSL refusal, Anuj Dhar, the former journalist who left his job two decades ago to dedicate his life and career to finding the post-1945 truth about Netaji, tweeted, "If this were about Mahatma Gandhi somehow, everyone would have gone hyper. Even the court would have intervened. CFSL has been accused of producing a fake report and there is this conspiracy of silence."
Dhar is amused by the fact that journalists are are "taking bytes from BJP, Congress, TMC spokespersons, whereas they should have asked CFSL to clarify."
The researcher wondered why it would be such an onerous task, as "the office of CFSL is in Kolkata, not in California. The issue is allegation of fake report, not 'why Gumnami baba, if he was Netaji, did not come out'."
"All these questions have complex answers that cannot be given in short bytes. Issues such as transfer of power, war crimes charges cannot be explained easily when the system is engaged in cover up," Dhar wrote.
"An electropherogram is a simple chart that experts study to produce a DNA report. There is nothing secret about it. CFSL should hand it over to us so that we can show it to experts in US and UK to expose the forensic fraud perpetrated to kill the Gumnami Baba-Netaji claim," Dhar added.
Meanwhile, the third generation of Boses since that of Subhas Bose and his siblings passed has been cross with Mission Netaji. After initially doubting the aircrash theory, they now cast aspersions on the pressure group, saying it is obsessed with an obscure ascetic who could not have been Subhas Chandra Bose by any stretch. However, the government's refusal to share CFSL data has now tilted public opinion in favour of the group lef by Dhar, Ghose and Panickar.