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Was Subhas Bose Killed in Russia?

On 18th August 1945, a plane crash in Taipei airport, which never actually happened, has changed the history of India as well as created a mystery that is yet to be solved. The plane was carrying Subhash Bose, one of the greatest freedom fighter’s of India. For last 67 years many theories came up regarding the fate of Subhash Bose after this deadly ‘air crash’. Generally, three of these have been researched and are considered believable, while the idea the plane crash is rejected by both serious researchers and the ordinary people of India.

Why the official story the ‘crash’ cannot be believed is something that I have discussed earlier in a different post, so I am not going into the details of the theory. According to one theory and work done by some researchers, it has been claimed that Subhash Bose was killed in USSR presently known as Russia and Jawaharlal Nehru along with allied forces like and USA were a party to the conspiracy. But before we claim that Subhash Bose has been killed in USSR, we need to answer some question in order to resolve some of the contradiction coming out from the theory.

The first and foremost point we need to look upon is why the Russian angle is coming up? We get some information on this fact from file no.75, where NRS Naidu off 99, Sofia Road, gives a description of the activities of Netaji Bose at that time. He says he had heard news in Moscow Radio where the death of Bose has been denied and also it has been told he will create another “Imphal from the western front of India.” There is more information available on this from file no. 273 INA, where it has been said, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose will transfer some department of his exiled government to Hanoi, Shanghai, Ping Kiang and especially to Yunnan province of China. His plan was to set up a communication with the Soviet Communists through the Chinese Communists of that province, who had some influence among the Russians. Beside this, from several other government files it is seen that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose went to Russia in 1944 itself when he had sensed the inevitable defeat of Japan, and he was able to get a definite promise from the Russian regarding pursuing the matter of India’s independence. Similarly, from some other documents it can also be proved that Netaji had already made a relation with the Russians and he has planned to continue the struggle for India’s freedom from there when the war will be over. He knew that the relation between Russia and America or was never normal and easy. This is correct because now we know of the cold war between America and Russia that went on for several decades after the Second World War. So it is quite likely that the plane crash was a cover up for his hideout in USSR. Looking at the facts it can be easily confirmed that on 18th August, 1945, Subhash’s real destination was USSR for preparation of a future war, and not Tokyo for the purpose of surrender.

In this context I would like to mention an American journalist Alfred Wagh, who at a of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, said that he had seen Netaji on 29th August at the Russian border. So, if Netaji has gone to USSR then what happened to him after that? Was he killed by the Communists there or he came out alive from USSR? To find answer of these questions I started finding facts in different archives, went through many published articles on this subject. I came to a decision that before we discuss the fate of Netaji in USSR, we need to understand the social environment of USSR and the relation between India and USSR at that time.

USSR as we all know was behind the iron curtain at that point of time. Many people had been killed in the Siberian gulags over a period of time under the Communist regime.  We know the fate of Indian communist leaders like Virendranath Chattopadhyaya. Did the same thing happened to Bose?
In this context the statement given by engineer Ardhendu Sarkar is very relevant and important. The person said in his statement that while he was working in Moscow in 1960, his colleague Jervin informed him that Jervin had met Netaji first time in Berlin and then again in Siberia in 1948. Bose had got a status of ambassador there and he supposedly told Jervin that he will return to India very soon.

 “I understand from most reliable source that Bose, your war criminal, has been allowed by Stalin to enter the Russian territory which action of his is a clear treachery…”, Nehru’s letter to Clement Attlee.

There is another noteworthy incident that sheds more light on this topic. Shyamlal Jain, who was the secretary of INA defense committee in the Lal Qila  of INA soldiers, in a statement given to Khosla Commission stated that on 26th or 27th December of 1945, Nehru called him at Assaf Ali’s house and asked him to type a letter to the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, the subject of which was dictated by Nehru himself. Some of the lines of the letter were as follows: “I understand from most reliable source that Bose, your war criminal, has been allowed by Stalin to enter the Russian territory which action of his is a clear treachery…”

Most researchers who want to prove that Bose died in Russia, bring up the reference of Shyamlal Jain, but they conveniently forget to mention that Jain had also said that, before the commission, that “Netaji is alive in India”.

So we see that there are many witnesses available that he was in USSR. Here we we must also understand that the importance of Virendranath Chattopadhyaya was not same as that of Subhash Bose to the Government of USSR. Subhash Bose was much more vital to Stalin for end of colonial era in India and Asian subcontinent. In this regard I would like to draw your attention to some facts which will make the Indo-USSR relation at that time very clear. In an interview to Frontline magazine Indian communist leader Makineni Basavapunniah had said, “Stalin’s view also was that India was not an independent country but ruled indirectly by British colonialists.” Further, according to prominent and well known Indologist Grigory Kotovsky, Stalin, who called India’s independence a “political farce,” considered Jawaharlal Nehru an agent of American imperialism, while Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov considered the first prime minister of India to be a British intelligence agent!
We also know that Stalin had raised serious concern over whether India had full control over its army or is there any restriction, when he met the Indian ambassador in Russia for the first time. These leave no doubt the fact that Stalin and his generals did not have a good opinion about Nehru, so why would the Communist leader want to kill Bose and make Nehru’s life easier?

Another argument that can be raised is that Stalin killed Bose, not necessarily to please Nehru, but due to the pressure from or USA. Leaving aside the Cold War decades, this looks like a plausible explanation to me. On February, 1949, in response to Stalin’s proposal that President Harry S. Truman travel to Russia for a conference, Secretary of Dean Acheson brusquely rejects the idea as a “political maneuver.” This rather curious exchange was further evidence of the diplomatic sparring between the United States and the Soviet Union that was so characteristic of the early years of the Cold War. That was the kind of relation USSR and the USA shared in 1949. On the other hand, Britain as a close ally of the USA and also part of the capitalist camp was doubtful about the intention of Stalin towards Western Europe. Being a sharp politician and diplomat, Bose must have apprehended these situations well and taken adequate preparation when he decided to move to Russia. It is very unlikely that an expert politician like Netaji will go for any kind of political adventure without making prior arrangement for his personal safety. From the several declassified files it is now clear that Netaji visited Moscow in 1944 itself when he visualizes the end of the World War 2. Also we should remember that while Nehru was interested to meet Stalin, the later never agreed to meet him.

Now, if Netaji was alive, then why didn’t he stopped the partition of our country? Between August 1947 and in the following 9 months nearly 140 to 160 million people has been forced to leave their motherland. Why did the partition take place in such a hurried manner? Burma and Srilanka was part of British India at one time but later these two countries have been handed over to separate administrators. It half a decade to hand these over these two areas to new administrators, while the partition of India was forced in a hurried and hasty manner, as if they were scared of something. Most likely they were apprehensive of Netaji coming back with an army! These power hungry demons knew Netaji was alive but he was not ready then. After the defeat of Japan, Azad Hind Fauz got disbanded. The preparation was as yet incomplete in Russia, which Nehru knew, so he wanted to actualize the partition as quickly as possible thus gaining maximum political benefit for all the concerned parties.

Muthuramalingam Thevar

So, if not earlier which we have ruled out, was Netaji killed in USSR after the death of Stalin and after Nehru’s first visit in 1955, after the Indo-USSR relation started developed significantly? But if it were so, why did Sarat Bose, elder brother of Subhash Bose, publish a front page news in his newspaper, “Nation”, saying “Subhash is in Red China”, in 1949? Why did noted Forward Block leader Muthuramalingam Thevar claim that he met Bose in China in 1950 and he was there with him for three months? This question need to be answered convincingly before we can say that Bose was killed in Russia in 1956. If we must accept someone’s personal view, then we might as well consider the views of Sarat Bose than any other Tom, Dick and Harry.

The Russian archives also yielded two important documents. The first was a discussion Joseph Stalin had with his defense minister, Voroshilov, and foreign affairs minister, Molotov, in 1946. This document quotes Stalin and the others discussing plans for the Communist movement in India vis-a-vis Bose. The second document is a report filed by a Soviet field agent, V.G. Sayadyants, stationed in India, also in 1946. He reported home from Mumbai that “the Soviet Union cannot possibly work with either Nehru or Gandhi”, and that the Communist movement in India “is in disarray.” The report concluded saying that “Bose is the only hope for Soviet Russia.” It therefore makes absolutely zero sense for USSR to harm Bose in anyway! The Azad Hind Government office was running in Omsk till 1966, therefore it is very unlike that the USSR Government would go after Bose while allowing an office of the Azad Hind Government to function from within its territory.

What does not add up is that while Purabi Roy’s affidavit in Mukherjee Commission was the reason why the Commission went to Russia, she herself did not accompanied them to the archives in Omsk and Irkutsk, where she had claimed to have seen many documents relating to the death of Netaji in Russia.
These points need to be answered and the contradictions resolved before we can decide conclusively on the fate of Subhash Bose in USSR.

Why then are some people so determined to sell the idea that Bose died in Russia inspite of evidence to the contrary? Maybe because the Congress leadership knew that the plane crash theory was not gaining sufficient traction among the masses. Their propaganda did not work. So they floated an alternate idea, which while differing from the crash theory, yet does not give us the full truth. To this effect they pushed some of their pet researchers who selectively choose data and evidences to create a narrative that Bose was killed in USSR.

For example these ‘experts’ reject the handwriting analysis done by B. Lal, while twisting the statements given by witnesses. They take parts of Shymlal Jain’s deposition before the Commission, but reject those parts where Jain states categorically that Bose was alive in India.They will lampoon the evidence in the 42 trunks among Bhagwanji’s belongings, saying that these were given to him in Kolkata, but refuse to say the names of the people who are supposed to have supplied these to him. Added to the these ‘experts’ we also have the ignominy of a few Bose family members who, probably for reasons of personal ego or profit, attack anyone who demands a probe into the Bhagwanji angle.

We, the ordinary people, do not have any option but to keep our patience and try to get to the truth, the real truth, and not what the Government so craftily tried to propagate in public through it pet researchers or motivated members of the Bose family. We hope the present Narendra Modi Government, which is not encumbered by the past, will keep declassifying the files from the archives such that eventually we can collect sufficient pieces of puzzle together and finally get to understand the real identity of Bhagwanji, unobstructed by any objections from motivated researchers of the past, or family members with an axe to grind.

References:
http://revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv12n1/3convers.htm
http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2827/stories/20120113282708900.htm
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/united-states-rejects-proposal-for-conference-with-stalin
http://in.rbth.com/articles/2012/06/15/the_soviet_ambassador_who_stood_up_to_stalin_on_india_15987.html

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Diptasya Jash
Techie hailing from Bengal, working in Kolkata

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