Dedicated to Dada
For teaching me the Power of Justice

Murder Most Foul

On August 18, 1945, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was on his way to Tokyo to negotiate laying down of arms by the I.N.A to the Americans on honurable terms. His choices were then limited. Giving in to the British was out of question. As a friend of Japan, he could face only unending hostility in either Russia or China. America offered a much better choice. It had replaced the British as the World’s leading superpower. More importantly, Netaji headed Government of Free India, which had been felicitated on its formation by the President of Ireland. The strong Irish lobby in America could therefore be counted on ensuring an honourable treatment to the INA.

The Americans, for whom Netaji was a prized catch, offered a safe passage to the Japanese bomber carrying him as it undertook an eight hour flight in a No Flight Zone from Tourane to Formosa. The prospect of Netaji in America was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster to the British. Formosa was the last place where they could hope to harm him. As the flight landed at Taihoku (Formosa) at about 13.00 hrs on August 18, they were ready to strike. At 14.00, the plane being refueled was rocked by an explosion.

Habibur Rehman (Agent B 1269) who accompanied Netaji and his boss in INA (Agent B 1189) must be held to be responsible for the explosion. What rankles is the unfortunate fact that a road named after the British Agent B 1189 stands in the heart of Mumbai.

Furious Americans hit back by removing an injured Netaji to Taihoku Camp No 5 and within few hours made arrangements to keep up the charade of Netaji’s death in the blast. An injured Japanese Gunner of the ill fated bomber, who could speak English was admitted to hospital and passed off as Netaji. The Hospital was a mere ten minutes away from the airport but “Netaji (?)” was admitted only at 17.00 hours – a full three hours after the blast. Shadowy agents of death took over. The Gunner, who was practically normal for four hours after admission passed way at 23.00 hours. The two pilots of the bomber, were treated in the hospital - discharged as fit on September 5, 1945 and died three weeks later of the wounds they had recovered from!!!. Habibur Rehman was taken in custody by the Americans, tutored to give the version of the blast that his British Masters would have liked to believe. By September 1945, the Secretary of State for India in London was happy to note “by all accounts, this (death of Netaji) must be true”.

The Americans had there own agenda to fulfill. Soon stories of Netaji being alive in USSR started circulating. It was not long before MI5 of the British Secret Services discovered the truth. Netaji had not died in the air crash as they had been led to believe. He had survived their murderous attack.

By May 1946, despite the efforts of the Cabinet Mission, the British hold over India hung by a thread. Preparations to evacuate the British civilians from India were underway. Should Netaji were to return to India, all was lost for the British.

In desperation, MI5 now approached the American Consulate in Mumbai for help in May 1946, through Lt. Col Hennessy Chief of British Military Intelligence, Bombay.. According to Hennessey “ the hold which Bose had over Indian imagination was tremendous and that if he should return to this country trouble would result which in his judgment would be extremely difficult to quell”.

The request was forwarded to the Secretary of State, Washington DC by Airgram A-175 of May 23, 1946. On June 20, 1946, the Chief of Division of Foreign Activity Correlation, Department of State, was cryptically informed that “ A search of the files in the Intelligence Division reveals that there is no direct evidence that SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE was killed in the airplane crash at Taihoko, Formosa despite the public statement of the Japanese to that effect.” He was also informed that “nor is there any evidence available to Intelligence Division which would indicate that the subject is still alive.”

It is clear that Netaji who was alive upto May - was killed in June 1946 to protect the British Imperial Interests, which at this time coincided with those of the Americans. Do we need to say who committed this murder most foul ??.

What followed is even more shocking. On September 9 1946, the US Intelligence intercepted a message that Forward Block was going to recommend Netaji to be the President of Indian National Congress on September 23, 1946. The information, considered so sensitive was meant only for those Military and Civilian Officials specifically authorized to receive the same; was communicated to the British. The information came to be filed in Case No 810002. Curiously, immediately thereafter, Nehru announced the death of Netaji in a great hurry. A red faced Sardar Patel was - on October 3, 1946 forced to admit that the Government had not conducted any inquiry into the alleged death of Netaji and had no view on the subject. So what was the source of Nehru’s statement that Netaji had died?

There may be some of us who will no doubt say that the account given above is merely the product of my overactive imagination. They may want to obtain the one file in Record Group 319, Department of Army, Investigative Records Depository, Personal File on Subhas Chandra Bose that the National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, Maryland 20740-60001 Unites States of America were kind enough to send me. Enough material exists in this file to lend credence to the account of the last days of Netaji as described above. Yes! There is no conclusive evidence that would corroborate my account. Nonetheless, Mr. Steven L.Hamilton, who was kind enough to send the file to me, was most helpful in stating that “of note for your further research efforts, the first few pages of this file contains a listing of other documents in the US Federal records relating to Subhas Chandra Bose”.

These other documents are:

1. Memo dated 16th September 1945 on Subhas Chandra Bose from A3 to the Japanese Government.

2. Memo dated 20th September 1945 from AG to Japanese Government on Habibulllah Rahaman Aide de camp

3. Memo dated 22nd September 1945 to CCIO on Chandra Bose

4. Memo dated 3rd October 1945 from A.S.G for Files

5. Memo dated 9th October 1945 from 442 CIC to G-2 “Rptd death of Chandra Bose” copy ltr to ALF dtd 20 Aug 45. Case No 810002.

6. Memo dated 9th October 1945 from CLO Tokyo to the Imperial Japanese Government on Subhas Chandra Bose

7. Memo dated 23rd October 1945 from Liaison Committee Tokyo for the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy to Col F.P. Juneon, G.S.C., G -2 “ Submittal of photographs in regard to Subhas Chandra Bose

8. From SACSEA of 1st November 1945 to CINC on Radio report on 6 persons desired

9. Memo for record dated 5th November 1945 from Chief CI to SACSFA on Radio report on 6 persons desired.

10. Memo dated 15th November 1945 from Chief CI to British Staff Secretary ‘Subhas Chandra Bose with 5 photographs re death of subj in pocket of this file”

Much as I tried, I have not been able to access these documents. Case No 810002 seems to be the key to the solution. It is in this file that the memo of 9th October 1945 as also information of September 9, 1946 about Subhas Bose contesting elections for the post of Congress President was filed.

Will the Government of an Independent Sovereign Republic of India, that is Bharat, ever demand the relevant documents from the Government of USA??

Accident or murder, death or as the folklore goes imprisonment in Russia, what ever was the truth; the fact remains a Voice that was full of unadulterated Patriotism, A Voice that was most inconvenient to the Gandhi Congress was heard no more after 18th August 1945. This was a tragedy of the highest order – of this there can be no doubt.