August 19, 2006
Netaji…’Global Conspiracy To Suppress Truth ?’
By Mukesh Jhangiani
United News of India
New Delhi (UNI) – Six decades after a legendary figure of India’s independence movement disappeared in an alleged air crash, a year-old law is being invoked to determine what really happened to Subhas Chandra Bose.
”There was no plane crash that day– August 18, 1945– or the day before that or the day after,” former Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi told a conclave in New Delhi last week.
He and former Defence Minister George Fernandes were speaking on new findings that Bose ”did not die in the plane crash, as alleged” and ”the ashes in the Japanese temple are not of Netaji.”
Those conclusions by retired Supreme Court Judge Manoj Kumar Mukherjee countered the findings by two predecessors– Shah Nawaz Khan in 1956 and G D Khosla in 1970– that Bose was killed in a plane crash over Taipei, Taiwan.
Taiwanese authorities say there were no plane crashes in Taipei between 14 August and 20 September 1945.
Justice Mukherjee headed an Inquiry Commission set up by the National Democratic Alliance government in May 1999 following a Calcutta High Court order.
He gave his 672-page report in May 2006 to the United Progressive Alliance government which tabled it in Parliament declaring it has ”not agreed’ with either key finding.
The Mukherjee Commission was the first inquiry set up by a non-Congress government– the past inquiries having been ordered by Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.
Critics have over the years charged both Khan and Khosla with having made half-hearted inquiries, intended essentially to endorse the view taken by the establishment in those years.
The two NDA leaders at the conclave assailed the UPA government’s stand, calling it an attempt and conspiracy to ”erase” the memory of Netaji.
Fernandes said Nehru knew that Netaji’s return would jeopardise his dynastic plans.
The event was organised by a group called Mission Netaji and All India Legal Aid Forum, an association of retired judges, lawyers and activists, to ask what then happened to Bose.
The participants included two former members of Bose’s Indian National Army– Captain Surjan Singh Yadav and V P Saini– besides researcher Purabi Roy, and some of Bose’s kin.
Speakers pointed to indications that the news of Bose’s death in August 1945 was a smokescreen for his escape to the Soviet Union to pursue the freedom struggle.
They suggested that Russia be requested formally at the highest level to open its archives to Indian scholars.
Controversy has dogged the issue over the past 61 years– with many Indians refusing to believe that Netaji was killed at the time of the alleged aircrash.
Through out the early years after independence there were unconfirmed reports and rumours about his having survived any such accident.
Speculation has been fuelled by the authorities’ refusal to let investigators– even a retired Supreme Court Judge in this case– examine the supposedly secret files.
Even attempts to confer on Bose a ”posthumous” Bharat Ratna– highest civilian honour– or bring from a Japanese monastery an urn supposed to contain his ashes– were challenged and dropped.
Some time after the Mukherjee Commission began its work there was word it was denied classified files by officials in Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Office and key– Home and External Affairs– ministries.
Published accounts say similar reluctance of Russian, British and Japanese governments to let investigators see relevant files ”strongly point to an international conspiracy.”
To crack the mystery, the conclave sponsors have invoked what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calls one of his government’s key achievements– the Right to Information Act 2005.
They hope the new law would help secure access to ”basic” files which had been supplied to the first two inquiries but denied to the third inquiry.
Here is what they have requested:
— Details of action taken by the government to verify the news of Netaji’s alleged imprisonment in the erstwhile Soviet Union– allegedly reflected in an official file.
— Certified copies of the MEA’s correspondence with the Soviet and the Russian governments over Netaji’s disappearance.
— Cabinet Secretariat papers about a destroyed PMO file titled ‘Investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Shri Subhas Chandra Bose.’
— Authenticated copies of all documents exhibited before the Shah Nawaz Committee 1956 and the GD Khosla Commission 1970-74.
A Home Ministry official has intimated the applicants that their request ”cannot be acceded to” as it concerns data disclosure of which would ”prejudicially affect” India’s ”security, strategic” interests.
The Mission has since moved the Central Information Commission which gave notice to the Home Ministry officials on August 3, asking them to respond by August 18.
Asked last night if he had heard from the MHA, Sayantan Dasgupta said, ”I have not got anything so far. We’d wait a few more days before going back to the CIC again.”
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