Report of Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry Regarding Alleged Disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
Shri Subrata Bose (Nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose) : Mr. Chairman, Sir I thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to speak on this motion moved under Rule 193.
Sir, at the outset, I would like to point out to you and all the hon. Members that this is a matter of 60 years old. If one has to understand the issue properly, one has to tell the tale of the last 60 years. In all humility, before I begin, I crave the indulgence of you, Mr. Chairman, Sir, the hon. Minister of Home Affairs, the hon. Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and the hon. Members to speak at length on this subject. I shall certainly not repeat what my previous speaker, the hon. Shri Probodh Panda, has said. I thank him for initiating this discussion. But I will have to give a little background.
When in the first week of August, 1945 the Second World War in the Asian Theatre came to a close after atom bombs were hurled over Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan resulting in the surrender of Japan, Netaji’s Azad Hind Fauz had also to accept defeat. They were two alternatives before Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose at that time. There were two alternative courses of action. One was to surrender to the Anglo-American Forces, and the second was to go to another country, seek asylum and continue to involve himself in the struggle for the freedom of our country. Since surrender was not in his nature, he chose the second alternative. While retreating, when he arrived in Bangkok, he told his associates that he has decided to go to the then Soviet Russia.
He also informed them that the Japanese Government agreed to help him to go to Russia. But Russia had also declared war against Japan just after the atom bomb was hurled. So, Japan could not guarantee to take him to Russia. But they offered to take him to Manchuria in North China.
The hon. Members would certainly recall that although China was under the reign of General Chiang Kii Shak, at that time, officially, Manchuria was virtually – even then in 1945 – under the control of Communist China, under the leadership of Mao Tse Tung. So, he agreed and said: “Yes, you reach me up to Manchuriya and then I shall make my way to Russia on my own.” He took a great risk. But that was his life. How many time did he take risks for the freedom battle? He escaped from Kolkata during the war, went to Germany traversing throughout North of India, Afghanistan, Soviet Russia and then to Germany. Any day, he could have been captured. Anywhere he could have been captured and that would have been the end of it. He did not bother.
Again, when the World War came to the Asian Theatre, he took the risk of coming from Germany to East Asia in a submarine where any time, any movement, he would have lost his life. But he took the risk. That was his nature. That was his six of his associates with him including Col. Habibur Rehman who, in this episode about the alleged air crash, in Taihuku in Taiwan, was the main evidence giver, supporting the theory of death by air accident of Netaji. All the five are no more. But there is one survivor who is Col. Preetam Singh of the INA who is still alive. He lives near Dehradun. He appeared before the Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry to confirm to the Commission that Netaji was going to Russia. Japan told them after the plane reached Saigon, they could not accommodate all the Indians including Netaji in one plane. Netaji had to choose to one out of those companies and the others would later be taken to Manchuria to join Netaji. The second part never happened. Netaji chose Col. Habibur Rehman.
From the Japanese Government document, it has been found that there is confirmation that Japan agreed to take him to Russia. It is not only that. There was also an escape plan. So, the plan included that as he left Saigon, Japan would announce that he had died in an air crash.
That was in the plan which has been found in the records of the Japanese Government. But the Japanese Government subsequently mentioned that what was planned unfortunately happened and Netaji actually died in an air crash.
Shri Prabodh Panda has already described bow the news was given out by the Government of Japan. According to the Japanese Government, the accident occurred on 18th August, 1945. It took them five days to deliberate and then announce to the world in a cryptic one line that Subhas Chandra Bose had died in an air crash. They did not mention the site on 18th August, 1945. It was later revealed and very intelligently Mr. S.A. Iyes, about whome Shri Prabodh Panda had already mentioned, was asked to draft a communiqué under their dictation, although I must say that Mr. S.A. Iyer himself has admitted that he was left at Bangkok and he was not one of those associates who was with Netaji after Bangkok. Suddenly he got a message, a very confidential message that Subhas Chandra Bose had died in an air crash in Tiwan and a plane is ready to take him to Taiwan to see his body and be present at the cremation so that he can be a witness.
When he got into the plane, he was under the impression that he was going to Taiwan, but the plane took him to Tokyo.Under the dictates of the Japanese Government through their own news agency, the DOMEI News Agency. It was picked up by Reuters and Requters circulated it all over India. In those days, television was not there, the radio also was not that popular and we, in India, read it in the newspapers on 24th August, 1945 morning that shocking news that Subhash Chanra Bose had died in an air crash on 18th August, 1945. The people were stunned. Naturally, any news of this kind would shock the people of India.
What was Mahatma Gandhi’s reaction? My father, late Sarat Chandra Bose was still then in prison. At least, the senior hon. Members of this House would know that he was the closest associate of Netaji both in his private life as well as political life. But his elder brother, the eldest of the sons, Shri Satish Chandra Bose was there. Mahatma Gandhi sent him a telegram. Mahatma Gandhi had always been eryptic. His message was, “don’t perform ‘Sradh’. That was the beginning of the doubt.
The British and the American intelligence agents were naturally following Subhas Chanra Bose. This accident was supposed to have occurred in 1945, on 18th August.
On 25th October, 1945, there was a meeting of the British Cabinet in London, which was presided over by the then Prime Minister, Clement Atlee. After the elections, Winston Churchill’s Conservatitive Party lost and the Labour Party came into power, just a little more than two months after the so-called air crash. This is available from a very authoritative book. ‘The Tansfer of Power’, published by the British Government, giving the details of how India gained independence or according to the British how India was granted independence.
This ‘Transfer of Power’ Volume VI published from Her Majesty’s Stationery Service, London, refers to the Minutes and Resolutions of a Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Atlee, held on 25th October 1945. The Resolution branded Netaji as the only civilian renegade of importance. That is how they described Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. It is not a surprise, Sir. Then, the Cabinet dwelt on the method of how to try him. The question before the Cabinet was whether he should be arrested and tried, where he is arrested or whether he should be arrested and brought to India and tried in India. That is what they wanted to discuss.
In the meantime, the British India Government sent a third proposition to them. The British India Government suggested that the Cabinet must remember the consequences of trying him. In this context, they put forward a proposal in one of the internal correspondences, which was dated 23rd August, 1945, ‘leave him, where he is and do not ask for his surrender’. The British India Government, in August 1945, sent this proposal to the British Government.
The Cabinet, at its meeting on 25th October 1945, decided, the only civilian renegade of importance, Subhas Chandra Bose, that it would be better to leave him where he is. So, the British Government even in August 1945 knew that Subhas Chandra Bose was not diet. It is not from any individual, but from the British Government itself.
In the meantime, Habib-ur-Rehman, who claimed to have seen netaji being wounded, whole body in fire, coming from the plane, which crashed, at Taihoku, tried with his hands to put of the fire but failed. He also claimed that he was there when he was taken to a hospital in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
He also claimed that he was a witness to his death. He came back to India, was under arrest first, and then he was released subsequently. In 1946, in the month of August, just one year after that alleged air accident, Col. Habibur Rehman came to our residence in Kolkata, met my father, late Shri Sarat Chandra Bose. They had a discussion for about 2½ hours. After that discussion, Sarat Chandra Bose came out and said: “Habibur is not speaking the truth”. Then, Habibur Rahman went over to Delhi to meet Mahatmaji, the father of the Nation, as Netaji called him. I still remember as a child hearing over the radio: “Father of the Nation, I seek your blessings in this holy war for Independence of our great country.” He (Rahman) met father of the Nation. Naturally, the representatives of the media asked him: “What was Habibur Rahman told you?” Once again, in a cryptic message to his countrymen, Mahatma ji said: “Habibur told me what his leader has ordered him to say.” I leave it to the hon. Members’ inpterpretation as to what Gandhiji ment. That doubt was there. But the doubt also vanished.
The Interim Government had taken over in 1946. Then, the Parliament was not there; the Central Legislative Assembly and Central Legislative Council were there. Shri Patel, on behalf of the interim Government stated on the 30th of October, 1946 in reply to a question of Shri Mangal Singh on Netaji’s alleged death that the Government was not in a position to make any authoritative statement on whether Netaji was dead or alive. Again on 7th November, 1946, in an answer to a question in the House put by Yuvraj Datta Singh, Mr. A.E. Porter replied on behalf of the Government of India.
The reply says: “The Government is not in a position to make an authoritative statement on this question.” So, it is not that after 60 years doubts have arisen. Doubts started from 1945 or from 1946. the, we became independent, and our Government took over. So, doubts went on. It was not only the then Prime Minister who doubted the news of the death of Netaji in August, 1945 but there were many others.
In the last Budget Session, I had the opportunity to mention one thing. Yes, I happen to be a member of this family but Netaji does not belong to our family only. I am proud that I happen to be a Member of this august House. I speak not only on behalf of the family but also I speak as a Member of this august House, and I am proud to have this opportunity which I have now.
Question were asked, continued to be asked by people everywhere and by our Legislators. The Parliament still had not come into operation. It came in 1952. Naturally questions were faced by the then Prime Minister, the most revered Pandit Jawaharlal Nehu. In 1951, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru thought that he must make a statement on this issue. He decided that he would make a statement in the Assembly itself. The then Prime Minister was also the Minister of External Affairs. He gave a notice.
Sir, I must say that I will be quoting a lot of notes from the Government files. It is not that I obtained them surreptitiously. I filed an affidavit before the Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry, and I became a deponent. So, by being a deponent, I acquired the right of attending all hearings, cross-examined the witnesses either by myself or by my lawyers, and also had an access to all documents which were received by the Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry mostly from the Government of India, from different Ministries – very few from the Government of West Bengal and some from private individuals. They were made exhibits. So, they became public documents. As a deponent before the Commission, I could obtain the certified copies of them. In the normal course, the most respected Patil ji would know more than about this myself. He is a lawyer. We pay a fee and obtain certified copies.
The then Primes Minister gave a note. That was on 26th September 1951.
The Prime Minister writes in a note, and I quote:
“It is for us to consider whether we should issue a public statement about this or not...” That means, Netaji’s alleged death.
“…In the balance, I am inclined to think that it would be desirable to issue some statement or to make it in Parliament. On the other hand, this may lead to some controversy, possibly even with Shri Subhas Chandra Bose’s family. I think, the best course would be, for us, to draft some such statement and to send it to Shri Subahas Chandra Bose’s family. After hearing from them, we would take a final decision about publication.”
Most defferentially, the then Foreign Secretary submitted a note to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister’s note was dated 26.9.1951, and the then Foreign Secretary’s note was dated 27.9.1951. I quote what the then Foreign Secretary submitted to the PM:
“I told PM that it would be inadvisable for him to make a statement now. Whether or not Shri Subhas Bose is dead is not a live issue at the present. He may not have an doubt on the evidence that Shri Bose is dead, but PM’s political opponent would utilize any statement made by him for propaganda purposes, particularly, in view of the forthcoming electrions. I added that there is a Bose’s intention to get out of the plane at Taiwan and to the intention of the Japanese Authority to let him cross over to the Russian held territory. Habibur Rehman is the really important evidence and those who still cherish the belief that Netaji Bose is alive and is somewhere in Russian held territory, will seize upon any piece of evidence in support of their theory. I also point out to PM that whereas according to Habibur Rehman, the dead body was cremated on the 20th August, 1945, according to the Municipal Certificate, the cremation took place at 6 p.m. on the 22nd August 1945. One could understand a fictitious name being used in the Death Certificate, and in the Cremation Certificate…”
Sir, a Death Certificate was issued in the name one Ichiro Okura. It was meant to be, according to the Japanese, the Death Certificate and Cremation Certificate of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. He refers to that.
I quote further:
“…Accoding to the Municipal Certifiate, the cremation took place at 6 p.m. on 22nd August and not on 20th August as Habibur Rehman has said. One could understand a fictitious name being used in the Death Certificate and in the Cremation Certificate. But there was no necessity of using a fictitious date of cremation.”
That is what he says. So, he advises the PM, in his own opinion, that it would not be perhaps correct to issue a statement.
This was the beginning of many such similar notes put up by the officers of the Government to the Cabinet or to the Minister to ponder upon. I am saying that this was contrary to the Government’s stance that Netaji had died in the plane crash. Although I was mentioning again and again 60 years, I must skip some years because otherwise I shall never finish.
Since the doubts were there, actually in December 1955, the Government constituted a Committee of Inquiry. Mr. Panda had referred to it. It is interesting to note this. Of the three Members of the Committee, the Chairman, Mr. Shah Nawaz Khan was then the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government of India. In those days, there was a provision that they were like the Ministers of State of Deputy Ministers. The second member was Mr. S.N. Maitra, an ICS office, and the third members, as the hon. Member has said, was one of th elder brothers of Netaji, Subhas Chandra Bose.
The Committee did not go to Taiwan because of proplems. In those days, I think the problem was more acute than what it is today. Just a few years before that, we had recognized the People’s Republic of China, and Chiang Kai Shek had moved over to Taiwan. Since the People’s Republic of China was recognized by us, we had no diplomatic relations any more with the Taiwan Government. We never had. We still do not have. But the Committee, inquiring and investigating into an accident, could not visit the site of the accident. The accident site was not visited. What happens? Unroftunately, we hear train accidents and plane accidents. The first investigation is done at the site. They could not do it.
It went to Japan. The Japanese Government put forward certain lists of witnesses. All were Japanese people. They had also furnished to the Inquiry Committee, through the Government of India, a list of witnesses in Taiwan. Since the Committee could not go to Taiwan, the Government of India requested the U.K. Government to obtain a report from the Taiwanese Government on the accident and on the availability of witnesses living in Taiwan, who had witnessed the air crash or who had been in the hospital or who could give material evidence to the fact of the air accident as well as the date of treatment of Netaji in the Taipei hospital. Taiwan Government sent a report through the U.K. Government.
According to the Taiwan Government sources, as they told to Justice Mukherjee when he went to Taiwan, they could not find trace of any of the witnesses whose names were given. That report was received by the Government of India before the Shahnawaz Inquiry Committee completed its deliberation. That way, the fact of receipt of a report from Taiwan Government was never disclosed by the Government of India. This information came to the Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry from the papers of the U.K. Government. The U.K. Government files contained a note by an official of the British High Commission that the original report of the Taiwan Government of India and the date as was given is a date when the Shahnawaz Committee of Inquiry was still functioning. This report never saw the light of the day. It was not given to the Shahnawaz Committee of Inquiry, it was not given to the Khosla Commission of Inquiry, it was not given to the Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry.
The Mukhejee Commission of Inquiry found a file of 1956. The file number was there. The title of the file was – Death of Subhas Chandra Bose. It was a Government of India’s file. The Mukherjee Commission Inquiry thought that the report must be in that file. They called for the file from the Government of India. The Government of India told them that the file had been destroyed.
Sir, that is the beginning of a sad tale of suppression of facts and information by our Government, by the Government of free India, in respect of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and destruction and reported missing of files. The Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry relentlessly asked for the file. An important document like the Taiwan Government’s report was not there. This is a very sad tale of suppression of facts, suppression of information, destruction of material files, destruction of relevant files and missing of relevant files. You go through these. If the hon. Members go through these, if they have the patience to go through volumes 2-A and 2-B of the report, you will only find how the Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry failed to get the files from the Government of India.
It was said, perhaps hinted that the Taiwan Government, suddenly after 60 years, they have given a concocted report as if they could be influenced by the Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry.
That just did not happen. It was not so. In 1956, the first report of the Taiwan Government had come and this was suppressed. I wonder. No, I think, it would be wrong for me to say that. So, I will not say. After all, I am speaking in the Parliament. I must restrain myself. I am not addressing a public meeting. This is the beginning, I say, from the Government of free India. With respect to the first evidence that we had found, from 1956, there has been continued, not an effort, but intention to destroy files, get files missed so that the truth does not come out.
The Inquiry Committee was divided. Shri Shah Nawaz Khan and Shri S.N. Moitro held the view that Netaji died in the air crash, but the other Member, Shri Suresh Chandra Bose, did not agree with them. He cited certain facts.
Three of the Japanese witnesses said that they were navigators of the plane. When they were asked where did the crew sit – in the front or at the back, each o them said that they did not know about it. Such witnesses were produced before the Shah Nawaz Committee. There was one witness who said: “We all got down from that place in Taipei, and the plane took off with Netaji.” This was his version, and it was for the Committee to either accept it or reject it.
I want to mention that the Government had every right to accept the majority view of the Committee, but the dissenting view of the third witness was not only rejected, but it was not even placed before the parliament. I believe that majority judgement will naturally be accepted when a bench, in a court of law, gives a dissenting judgement, but the dissenting judgement also goes on record. In this particular case, the Government ensured that it did not go on record.
The report of the Inquiry Committee was that the Government does accept the views of the Committee. The Prime Minister himself declared it as the majority view. But we find from the Government files – which were given to the Commisson of Inquiry – that the Prime Minister himself had written letters differently to members of the family after the Government had accepted the majority report or majority view of the Shah Nawaz Inquiry Committee.
Shri Suresh Chandra Bose was Member of the Inquiry Committee, and he wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister in 1962, and the then Prime Minister replied to him on 13/5/1962. I would like to quote what the Prime Minister wrote in it. It states that:
“… You asked me to send you proof of death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. I cannot send you any precise and direct proof…”
In 1964 another member of the family, my elder brother Shri Amiya Nath Bose, wrote to the then Prime Minister. He was also a Member of this Parliament at one time. He wrote that: “Since there were still doubts in the minds of the people, I think that a commission of Inquiry should be set up and it should be chaired by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”
The PM replied to him on 22nd April, 1964, about two weeks before his sad demise. What did he write to him? He wrote: “I agree with you that a proper inquiry should be held into the matter of Subhas jis’s death. But I do not think that the Chief Justice of Supreme Court would agree to chair such an inquiry.” He was a very close associate of Netaji for many eyars, right from 1921. He had his own doubts, although as a Government it accepted the majority report of Shah Nawaz Committee. Pandit Nehru died, and the doubts went on. In 1970, the then Commission of Inquiry with Justice G.D. Khosla as the Chairman. By appointment of a Commission of Inquiry, naturally, it can be interpreted but I do not know if the hon. Home Minister will agree with me, it virtually rejected the earlier Report of the Committee of Inquiry. It may be so or it may not be so. But the Commission also must have seen the papers of Netaji.
There is one difference between the Shah Nawaz Committee of Inquiry and the Khosla Commission of Inquiry. Justice Khosla naturally thought that he must go to Taihoku, and the Government made arrangements for his visit. But unfortunately, he did not meet the Taiwan Government officials. He said that in his Report. He did not or could not see the site of accident because that Taihoku Airport was no more in existence when Justice Khosla visited Taiwan after 1970. He did not visit the crematorium, but he writes that some people in the Hotel where he was staying pointed out to him that the hotel overlooks the place where Taihoku Airport was. That is what we saw also in Taiwan. As a deponent, I had the right to attend the hearings. So on my own, I had also gone to Taiwan. When Justice Mukherjee Commission had gone to Taiwan, we also went to see that place. We found the hotel, we found the Museum, we found residential houses, but the site of accident was no more there. He did not visit the crematorium either to obtain the cremation reports. He visited the hospital, but the hospital had changed hands and they told him that they had no more records of 1945.
Justice Khosla – rightly or wrongly, I may agree or I may not agree, you may agree – also concurred with the Shah Nawaz Committee’s majority report that Netaji died in the accident. But again, if you go through the report you would find that he did not get proof of his death, that there is no proof or evidence of his being alive either, or he survived that air crash. Therefore, he would accept that theory that he died.
But a major change in the Government’s stand came in 1978.
I was talking about the change in the approach of the Government which took place in 1978. I will be very brief on that. Hon. Member Shri Prabodh Panda has already mentioned it. He had quoted also from the then Prime Minister’s speech in Parliament. That was the first occasion when the Government’s approach or thinking on the subject underwent a change officially.
In this case, before I conclude. I would only mention that as far as the change is concerned, there has been another very important occasion when the Government admitted differently. I would skip that and come back again post 1978. What I would mention is that before Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Birth Centenary was observed, to honour him the Government awarded Bharat Ratna posthumously. The Bharat Ratna became the subject matter of judicial action and the Government was asked by the hon. Court that since it declared a posthumous award, it must submit to the court the proof that they have that Netaji is dead. Then, the Government changed its stand and its reponse was to withdraw or cancel the Bharat Ratna award. Not that it mattered to Netaji as to whether he was given a Bharat Ratna award or not. Then, it admitted that it has no proof that Netaji was died. Later, the Government was preparing to celebrate the Netaji Birth Centenary. As I was talking of the change in the attitude, the approach of the Government, 1978 was the first instance; and the withdrawal or cancellation of Bharat Ratna award was the second instance when the Government admitted that in had no proof of Netaji death. I have completed the incident of 1978. I will come to 1999 when an inquiry was appointed. Hence, that by itself will take time. I would crave your indulgence this time not for an extension of time but allow me to complete seven minutes before six o’ clock so that when I continue, I can start on a new chapter.
I would just recall that yesterday, I pointed out that how in spite of the various notings in the Government files, the then Prime Minister, Pandit Nehru continued to say in Parliament as well as in public that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has died in air crash and that it should be accepted by the people of India. But in his private letters he wrote otherwise. He wrote that he had no proof of his death in the air crash and he also acknowledged that there was need for further inquiry…..
As I was saying, I shall just go back once to the time of Pandi Nehru, just to give a startling revelation. I think, the hon. Members of the House would be startled to hear this. This is a note of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat. This bears the File no. 23(II)/56-57/PM, dated 2.12.1954 and the note is signed by Shri M.O. Mathai.
I quote from the note:
“A small amount of Rs. 200 and odd was received by the Ministry of External Affairs from our Embassy in Tokyo and along with the ashes and other remains of the late Shri Subhas Chandra Bose. This money is being kept with the External Affairs Ministry.
I have consulted the Prime Minister about this and he agrees that this amount might be transferred to INA Relief Fund. The Ministry might get in touch with the General Secretary of AICC, 7, Jantar Mantar Road, New Delhi and have this money transferred to the INA fund. The receipt might be otabined for the Ministry’s record.” That is about Rs. 200 and odd in cash. But what happened to the ashes and other remains of late Subhas Chandra Bose which had been received from the Embassy in Tokyo by the Ministry of External Affairs, that is, the then Prime Minister?
If the ashes have come to India, handed over to the Prime Minister and then what were kept in the Renkoji Temple, then what happened to the ashes, which had come to India? What happened to the other remains of late Subhas Chandra Bose, which were also handed over to the Prime Minister? This is something we have never known before. So, the whole thing, as you can see, is just a myth created by the Government of India about the ashes. All the hon. Members will agree with me. I would like to receive – I am sure all the hon. Members will join me to receive – or to hear from the Government of Inhdia, a very direct and a positive answer on this point.
This move of the Congress Government to bring the ashes and bury Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose continues, even after an interlude when the Congress came back to power. They were waiting for an opportunity to once again revive the proposal to bring the so-called ashes from the Renkoji Temple. What happened to the ashes in India, nobody knows; whose ashes in the Renkoji Temple, Justice Mukherjee has an answer. These are the ashes of one Ichiro Okuna.
So, they got that opportunity when the country was preparing to celebrate the Birth Centenary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, although in their heart of hearts, they did not want to. But the then Government felt that they had to do something. So, the Central Birth Centenary Celebration Committee was formed in 1994 – Kumar Mamata Banerjee will correct me, if I am wrong – with the then Prime Minister Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao as the Chairman and then Leader of House Shri Pranab Mukherjee as the Deputy-Chairman. In the first meeting, the first agenda was to bring the ashes from the Renkoji Temple and building a memorial. In the Committee, other than Shri Narasimha Rao and Shri Pranab Mukherjee, there were other members. This Committee comprised of leaders of different political parties, two representative of the family and other important personalities.
The record shows that when this agenda was taken up, there were some who boldly opposed it. I am certainly grateful to hon. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he was then I think the Leader of Opposition. I am also grateful to Hon. Kumari Mamata Banerjee who was the Member of that Committee. We also recall with gratitude late Shri Chitta Basu and Shri Samar Guhar. All those Leaders raised their voices against this proposal. The Chairman and the Deputy-Chairman had no other alternative but to drop it.
I think, again I am very lucky to be in the House in which Kumari Mamata Banerjee is also there. She will correct me if I am wrong. No further meeting was held. Some programmes were arranged by the Government but this Committee was not consulted. This was the character of the Congress Government.
But the Congress was toppled once again. The NDA Government came in power. In the mean time there was a High Court order that there must be a further inquiry. The West Bengal State Legislative Assembly also requested the Government of India, by passing unanimous Resolution, that there should be a further inquiry. My Party, All India Forward Bloc, and the Members of the family also urged upon the Government to institute a proper inquiry.
I think, I shall be failing in my duty if I once again do not offer my gratitude to the NDA Government of that time, particularly to the then hon. Prime Minister, Shri Vajpayee and the then hon. Minister of Home Affairs, Shri Advani and other partners and associates in that Government, that in 1999 – I think on the 13th of May – the Government issued a Notification appointing justice M.K. Mukherjee as the Chairman of a one-man Commission of Inquiry and gave them very definite Terms of Reference. I shall also point out to you, Sir, that unlike the previous Committee of Inquiry and the Commission of Inquiry set up in 1956 and 1970 respectively by the Congress Government, this Government under the Prime Minister-ship of Shri Vajpayee decided that they will not appoint the Chairman of the Commission of their choice and a request was made to the hon. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India to recommend the name of a retired Supreme Court judge to be the Chairman of the Commission.
Justice Mukherjee’s name was recommended by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. That is why, if I may say so, we got a judge as the Chairman of the Commission who was reputed to be a man of integrity, a man of intellect, a man of sincerity and a man who had perseverance and a lot of patience.
Above all he was a man was honest. So, he started the inquiry with an open mind. Yesterday I said, perhaps, the hon. Members would remember that I became a deponent before the Commission. I filed an affidavit. It is immaterial what I said in that affidavit but I also prayed in the affidavit that irrespective of my belief or the belief of others, I want the Commission to inquire into the alleged disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in August 1945 with an open mind. Let them judge all the evidences and the circumstances. Let them hear people of all opinions who have different opinions. In fact, in that affidavit I said that I shall accept whatever findings the Mukherjee Commission would give.
There was an allegation that he took long a time – six and a half years. But perhaps the Government of India has forgotten that for one year, they could not find even a suitable accommodation to house the Commission of Inquiry. After one year, the West Bengal Government had to come to their rescue and the then Minister of Food of the State Government graciously vacated his own office so that the Commission could start its work. The Government of India never bothered. In Kolkata, they had their office. The Commission wanted a liaison office in Delhi because they had to always be in touch with the Government of India. That was given after lapse of two years. That was the cooperation extended from the beginning itself. If the Commission took six and a half years, actually five and a half years because one year was lost, it was due to the Government’s non-cooperation and the Government’s attitude of not being helpful. If the hon. Members have the time to go through Volumes 2A and 2B of the Report they would find, it only contained a record of non-cooperation from the Government of India. It is a disgraceful and shameful thing. Yes, you can say that for five years the NDA Government was in power at that point of time. But it is a fact. As I praise them I also take them to task for not cooperating with the Commission of Inquiry which they themselves had set up.
The Commission wanted to go to Taiwan. I will give you a few examples because the hon. Members have read the report, I believe. After many months of persuasion, the Government of India came out with a suggestion that since we do not have any diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, you go to Taiwan but show that you had been elsewhere. Naturally, Justice Mukherjee would not agree. He said that you want me to tell an untruth. So, again after many months the Commission was granted permission to got to Taiwan, account for Taiwan visit and draw the money from the Government of India. In India, they took evidence from many persons. The number was more than hundred and they made four foreign visits.
The first went to Japan, then to the United Kingdom, then to Taiwan and lastly to Russia.
When the Commission visited Japan, they went there with two purposes in mind. First, to visit the Renkoji temple where allegedly the ashes of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose were kept. They went to inspect that. Hon. Members will be surprised to know that the whole programme of visit was drawn up by the Indian embassy in Tokyo. I also went there in my individual capacity on my own expenses. I had the right to go where the Commission went and attend the hearings of the Commission. We went to the Renkoji temple. The Commission wanted to take evidence of the priest, but he refused to give any evidence. They said that they were prepared to talk to us but not on record. Agreed. It is because if someone is not willing to give evidence, one cannot be forced.
We had the first meeting downstairs. In the upstairs there was a hall where the urn was kept containing the alleged ashes of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. We went upstairs. Hon. Justice Mukherjee requested them to open the urn and wanted to see the contents. They suddenly looked at each other and after about ten minutes they came and told Justice Mukherjee that they were sorry about the fact that since there were no carpenters available, they could not ope the urn. I thought it was made of wood covered by a glass case and with batons put on an ordinary wooden table and they were just screwed up. Justice Mukherjee humbly suggested that it could be opened with the help of a screwdriver. They refused the suggestion and said that in Japan there was nothing like that and only a carpenter was allowed to touch it and that we may have been able to open, it but we are not allowed to do so. We came back without seeing the contents. What was the reason given? That day was national holiday in Japan and so the carpenters did not come for work. The Indian embassy knowing that it was a national holiday had fixed up the programme for the Commission to visit the Renkoji temple. So, the first purpose was lost.
Second, the Commission went to interview the doctor, whose name was Yoshimi, who had claimed to have treated Netaji Subhas Bose when he was brought to the hospital after sustaining very serious burn injuries in the air crash. He was asked as to whether he had treated Netaji Subhas Bose or not. His reply was ‘no’. He did not know whom he treated as he had never seen Chandra Bose. They referred to him as ‘Chandra Bose’ in Japan. He had never even seen his photograph. He said that a person was brought badly burnt and that he did not know if that was Chandra Bose. He was only told by a Papanese military officer that he was the great Indian leader Chandra Bose. This man gave the name as evidence before the Shah Nawaz Committee and he was no more alive when the Mukherjee Commission was constituted. But when Nakamuru was interrogated by The Shah Nawaz Committee as to whether he recognized Chandra Bose or not, his reply was ‘no’ and that Dr. Yoshimi told him that he was Chandra Bose.
About other witnesses who appeared before the Shah Nawaz Committee, I had said yesterday and that has gone on record.
Secondly, there is a very interesting document in the Government of India’s file. But, before that, I must tell you that Dr. Yoshimi said that he died on 18th August. When he was preparing to write the death certificate, he was told by Nakamuru to give the name of Ichiro Okura because they want to keep it as a secret. But mind you, after five days, they were announcing the death of Subhas Chandra Bose. It was a military hospital and he had to obey the orders there. They asked him whether he will sign a false certificate. He said he will sign a false certificate. He also signed the cremation certificate. In their country, there has to be a separate cremation certificate alongwith the death certificate requesting the crematorium for the last rites. That was also given in the name of Ichiro Okura. Then that interesting document which Justice Mukherjee found that in one of the files of the Government of India was taken out. Justice Mukherjee saked Dr. Yoshimi, “Did you on any day issue a death certificate in the name of Subhas Chandra Bose?” He said, “No. How could I? I sued that certificate in the name of Ichiro Okura.” And that was meant to be Subhas Chandra Bose’s certificate. He took it out and showed that was meant to be Subhas Chandr Bose’s certificate. He took it out and showed that that was the death certificate issued Dr. Yoshimi in 1988 in the name of Subhas Chandra Bose. It was 43 years after the so-called death of Bose. When he showed the certificate, he got nonplussed. He said that he had forgotten. He said, “Under what circumstances did you issue a certificate after 43 years and this time in the name of Subhas Chandra Bose?” He said that one Indian and one Japanese came to him and asked him to give a certificate as the Government of India wants it to facilitate taking out the ashes back to India. He asked, “Who was the Indian? He said, “I have forgotten,” He asked, “Who was the Japanese?” He replied, “ I have forgotten the name.” Then he started weeping requesting Justice Mukherjee to kindly not to report it to the Japanese Medical Council because his licence will be cancelled. Justice Mukherjee said that he had come to make an inquiry on behalf of the Government of India, he has to give a report to them and he has got nothing to do with the Japanese Government or the Japanese Medical Council. He asked, “Tell me, was it fair on your part to issue as death certificate after 43 years?” He said “No.” After all, death certificate has to be issued within a reasonable time of the death of the person and 43 years, by no means, can be considered as a reasonable period. So, that effort was continued to bring the ashes. Possibly, if leaders like Mamata Banerjee had agreed at the meeting of the first Birth Centenary celebrations to get the ashes, this certificate would have been the proof of the death of Subhas Chandra Bose as far as Government of India was concerned. This is how things were going on.
So, we came back and then there was visit to UK. The United Kingdom Government said that we can go to the Public Records Office and there, we can get all the documents. We collected copies of whatever documents were released and what we really thought was related to the subject like the one I mentioned.
That copy of the letter of the British High Commission in Delhi, which certified that the Report of the Taiwan Government in 1956 was handed over to the Government, which was destroyed. The UK Government, whatever it does, want to do it openly. They said, “We have it”.
Then they told that they have information about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s death. But, they said, “They are classified and we shall open it after 2020”. Seventy-five years after the event of his death or his escape. It is because, they said, there is an Official Secrets Act in the UK. So, there are facts. Still facts and information are available in the UK.
In this context, I would also say, that like the UK Government, the Government of India also withheld two files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose from the Commission of Inquiry. In our country also there is an Official Secrets Act and the Government took advantage of it. Due to a judgement of the Supreme Court of India, the Government had to give reasons to the Commission as to why they want to keep it as a secret. I shall quote verbatim the reasons given by the Government of India to Justice Mukherjee for keeping these two files as classified and secret. I have read it so many times that I think I have it fully in my memory. I shall quote:
“Information contained in these files, if disclosed, will effect relations with friendly countries.”
I repeat, this is what the Government gave a reason:
“Information contained in these files, if disclosed, will effect relations with friendly countries.”
Shall I be wrong to assume that some friendly countries – I do not know which – did some unfriendly act as far as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is concerned and if that is disclosed now, that will affect the relations with those friendly countries because people of India will rise against them? Let the Government explain as to what they mean by this. They cannot reveal the information about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose because it will affect relations with some friendly countries. Our national hero is not important, but relations with friendly countries is more important. That is a heinous and shameful attitude of the Government of India.
Now, I go back to the most important visit to Taiwan. Justice Khosla had gone there. I had mentioned it yesterday. He had not met the Government officials. Here I must say that there is an unofficial trade organization, called the Indo-Taiwan Trade Association in Taiwan. They had been unofficially requested by the Government of India to help the Commission and they did it. Commission was given audience by the Ministry of External Affairs of the Taiwan Government; the Ministry of Health of the Taiwan Government; and the Ministry of Internal Security or the Home Ministry of the Taiwan Government.
They told Justice Mukherjee unequivocally that they were absolutely sure and certain that there was no air accident in the whole State of Taiwan on the 18th August, 1945. He says that we have our records. I will tell you that there was an air accident in September, 1945. We will give you the record. It was an American plane carrying the American prisoners of war. We have the list of passengers who died and who were injured. But that also did not happen in Taihoku Airport, happened in Southern Taiwan. Justice Mukherjee went to the crematorium. They said, no, this crematorium was built much later and in 1945 this was not the crematorium. But there is an old crematorium which still exists. It is not used as a crematorium, but it is today used as the Office of all Crematoriums and all records are there. You can go there and try to find out if records of 1945 are available. Justice Mukherjee went there. They said, ‘yes, we have full records. But you are asking for records of 59 years ago. So, you will have to give us time and you will get this record within one month.’ Justice Mukherjee asked them to please let him know whether Subhas Chandra Bose or Ichiro Okura was cremated between 15th August and 25th August, 1945 and also whether Lt. General Shidei of Japanese Army, a very high ranking official was also a passenger in that plane. General Shidei was reported to have died in that accident and the Chief Pilot, whose name I forget now, I think, I have seen the report, the pilot also has reported to have died and, therefore, Justice Mukherjee asked them to let him know whether these two persons were cremated. Crematorium kept its words and within three weeks, the record in Chinese language with certified English translation came to Justice Mukherjee. He found that Ichiro Okura was cremated on 22nd August, but his death was not on 18th but on 19th August, 1945. Lt. Gen. shidei name was not there and the Chief Pilot’s name was also not there. Those dead bodies vanished. He also found out that Ichiro Okura was patient in that hospital. He died on the 19th August due to heart attack. A dead body was required to bury or cremate Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Without a dead body how could they tell whether he died and cremated? So, Ichiro Okura’s dead body was used. He died on the 19th August. According to Japanese customs, the cremation takes place on the third day. So, it took place on 22nd August. Habibur Rehman had given the date as 20th August. So on 22nd August, Ichiro Okura was cremated. In the Japanese customs unlike our Indian customs bones are kept. That is why, some bones are supposed to be there. That is why, Justice Mukherjee has concluded. There are other things in the Report but I will not go into that. Ichiro Okura’s ash and bones are there. I think, the Government will come up with that question. I anticipate it.
Why did Justice Mukherjee not arrange for the DNA test of whatever is there, whether it is Ichiro Okura’s remains or whatever it is. After all, it is for the DNA test. Justice Mukherjee was not averse to it. He told us during the hearing: “I would like to take full advantage of the scientific advancement.” He asked the Hyderabad Institute. At that time, the Hyderabad Institute said that it did not have the equipment to conduct the DNA test. Justice Mukherjee requested them for names of the Japanese or foreign experts. They gave the names; recommended the names of a German expert and a Japanese expert. Justice Mukherjee referred to them saying: “Certain remains are there. They were cremated in 1945. Would you conduct a DNA test to find out to which family he belonged?” No one can identify a person. Both the German and the Japanese experts said “no” to it. It is no use or not even worth a try because when a dead body is exposed to heat generated in a furnace – do not talk about the ashes because ashes have no quality – even bones, once they are charred – qualities required for conducting the DNA test – do not remain anywhere. After a lot of persuasion, the Japanese Government agreed. It said: “We shall ask the temple authorities if they would give it just to shows it to the Japanese expert.” He was already in Tokyo. The temple authorities said: “No. Our religious custom forbids handing over of the last remains to any human being.” Subsequently they have agreed after Justice Mukherjee Commission closed its hearing. The Japanese expert had said: “No. You are forcing me. But I know that nothing can be found from that.”
Now, I refer to pages 22 to 31, Volumes-I of the Report. Since the books is there, I would not like to waste the time of the House. The subject is regarding DNA test of that. He explained that he tried his best but nothing could be done in the matter. He was ready although the experts said nothing would be found. That is why, he has concluded that although the DNA Test was not done, he was completely satisfied that it was not Subhas Chandra Bose who died in an air crash because the air crash did not happen taking into view of the Japanese doctor’s evidence but he said that still he would conclude and come to this finding. I would just read the last sentence on Page 107 of the Report. I quote from the Report.
“Considered in that backdrop, the inability of the Commission to subject the mortal remains to DNA test in the circumstances beyond its control has not stood in the way of recording its conclusive finding in that regard – a finding arrived at on the basis of robust circumstantial evidence on record.”
He has given it. One can study it. I think the concluding part of Justice Mukherjee’s Report is there from pages 100 to 107. I hope the Government would also definitely have studied it. They have nothing to say….
Sir, there is one thing. I did not want to mention that. But while intervening when I was speaking last evening, the hon. Minister of Parliamentary Affair referred to the differences within family. You and the hon. Members may remember, Sir, that when I started talking I said” “Yes, I happen to be a member of the family, but that does not give the sole right to represent Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.” He belongs to the nation and he belongs to the people of India. Today I am speaking here because I also again, I have to mention this although I did not like to do so.
He was referring to Shrimati Krishna Bose, a former Member of this House. She wrote to the Government of India part from making public her views. She wanted that irrespective of the Report the ashes should be brought. I would only like to inform the hon. Members that because Justice Mukherjee had a very open mind, he had requested both Shrimati Krishna Bose and her husband late Dr. Sisir Bose to appear before the Commission and tell what they know and what they believe. So, the Commission wanted to hear all that.
Late Dr. Sisir Bose wrote to the Commission and said: “I have no facts or information on this matter. So, I would like to be excused because I cannot be of any use to the Commission”. Then, naturally the Commission said that he had written that he has no facts.
When Shrimati Krishna Bose was invited, she also wrote back and said: “I have no facts or information on Subhas Chandra Bose’s death. I was a mere child then in 1945 when he is supposed to have met his end, but I believe that he died in the air crash and the ashes are there because my husband late Dr. Sisir Bose believed that”. So, she has no information or facts which she has said which is on record. The Government of India can find it in the records of Justice Mukherjee Commission which are all now in the custody of the Government. Therefore, her opinion today is not worthy of any consideration.
Sir, as I said, I am not saying the House will all agree with me when I say that he did not in air crash or I agree with the findings of the Mukherjee Commission. It is for the House to decide and give its sense of views to the Government and then it is for the Government to consider that, But I thought I should mention that and so I did that.
So, I end by making certain accusations. First of all, I accuse the Government of India of deliberate suppression of facts and information from 1947 onwards till today.
Sir, I accuse the Government for destruction of files and for making files missing which contained relevant information, material information on Netaji Subhas Chandra Boe and his disappearance or, as the Government contends, his so-called death.
I accuse the Government of continued non-cooperation with the Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Mukherjee.
The Government stands accused not by me, not only in the docs of a court of lawa, but I think, it stands accused in the court of the people of India.
I demand that the Government withdraw the Action Taken Report, which they have submitted. I demand that the Government of India accepts the findings of the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry. This will be the chance for the Government to amend itself, and amend the willful misconduct of the Government over 69 years. I demand that the Government of India should inform immediately to the Government of Japan that it is not concerned with the so-called ashes kept in the Renkoji Temple in Japan. I also demand that the Government of India immediately withdraws the financial assistance which they are giving to the Japanese Temple authorities for maintenance of Renkoji Temple.
Here also, I just mention how the Government has been playing sly in the matter. The Renkoji Temple evidently sought for assistance saying ‘that we are keeping Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s ashes for you, so you should finically assist us, Temple does not have the money.’ Our Finance objected to it saying ‘that Netaji’s death is in doubt. Whose ashes are these? They are in doubt. How can you give money? But you can give under general head, that is, Discretionary Financial Head, which the Ambasador has. Pay the money as if you are just donating to a Temple. That is how they are paying the money. Officially, they cannot acknowledge that it is the ashes of Netaji.
The files say otherwise. So, let that be withdrawn. Let the Government now take the right stand which the people of India expect of them. Whatever mistakes they have done over the years, I think people of India are always gracious to condone and forgive. But if the Government does not act, I think, the people of India will not forgive them for showing disrespect to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and for spreading false things, false news about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. I have done.
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