news Monday, July 27, 2015 - 05:30
There is mystique and nationalism, bravado and power surrounding him. The more you know, the more there is to know, it appears.  Arguments made at the sparsely attended, and belatedly beginning event “Mission Netaji- End the Secrecy” attempted to clear the air. The panel discussion organised in Bengaluru on Sunday evening sought to end the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Subhas Chandra Bose, and was chaired by Netaji’s grand-nephew Chandra Kumar Bose and journalist Anuj Dhar, author of “India’s biggest cover-up”. Taking turns, first in attempting to explain the importance of Netaji’s legacy, and then, in uncovering the mystery surrounding his death, Bose and Dhar resorted to historical nuggets lost in the archives, as there is not enough material on Netaji in the public domain. The duo believes that not enough has been done by past governments, or even by citizens, in questioning his sudden disappearance. “He was not given pride of place,” said Bose, adding that “certain bootlickers of the British” were responsible for reducing Netaji’s legacy to a paragraph in the NCERT text-books.  “History has been distorted for vested interests,” bellowed Bose, who mentioned that a book on Netaji is due to be released in November this year that will set the facts right. The ambiguous but general consensus is that Subhash Bose died post a plane crash on August 18, 1945. If consensus is discounted there is a growing body of evidence which suggests that irrefutable evidence that proves the crash there as false may be found in the 140-or-so classified files. Dhar mentioned that 64 such files are with the West Bengal government and close to 30 are in the possession of Prime Minister’s Office’s (PMO). Several governments in the past, which have predominantly been Congress-led, have been unwilling to de-classify the files, and Dhar said that if that is done, the Netaji mystery will be solved in a month. Bose said that he has taken up the issue with the PM Narendra Modi thrice, and Modi has assured him that ‘yeh desh ka kartavya hai’(it is the responsibility of the nation). “We will give him (Modi) time (to make the files public), considering that he has taken up the cause at least,” he added.  When his turn came to address the audience, an acerbic Dhar’s discomfiture with former PM Jawaharlal Nehru’s hesitancy to acknowledge the Netaji legacy was evident. He mentioned the hypocrisy in how Nehru was seen in his barrister gown for the first time in public life for defending Netaji’s Indian National Army in a trial. The former PM is also believed to have not visited Netaji’s memorial in Japan on the advice of the former Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, after promising he would. Dhar went on to dissect the three theories surrounding Netaji’s disappearance: the air-crash, Netaji’s purported escape to Russia and his sighting as the Faizabad baba. In doing so, he presented a raft of evidence from the archives, including some classified documents which, would make everyone in the hall, including this reporter, violate the Official Secrets Act, he suggested in jest.  Dhar mentioned that evidence suggests that the air-crash was a “smokescreen” constructed by Netaji and the Japanese who surrendered at the end of during World War II. The plane is believed to have crashed in Formosa, Taiwan. Dhar said that the Taiwan government, when asked, responded by saying that no such air-crash had occurred during that time. Anthropologists have said that the skull, in which is believed to be Netaji’s remains, matches that of a south-east Asian man. That man, Dhar believes, is a Japanese soldier by the name of Ichiro Okura. The journalist believes that files in possession of the Russian government have more answers to the Bose mystery. In addition, the theory of Bose being sighted as a sanyasi in Faizabad is also widespread. Dhar said that Justice Mukherjee, the head of the most recent committee appointed by the government in the issue had said that he believed that theory to be true, but admitted as much, off-the-record, in 2010. “If someone as respected and who has seen all the de-classified files believes so, I wouldn’t refute it,” Dhar said. And aside from uncovering the mystery surrounding Netaji’s legacy, the event had more indicators in store. The third person on stage with Dhar and Bose was G Nagaraj, the RSS chief pracharak for three states including Karnataka and Telengana and the Hon. Secretary at The Mythic Society.  The disquiet among the audience was there to see too, with cries of “Shame, shame” going up as Nehru’s attitude toward Netaji were mentioned. Observers believe that the move to appropriate Netaji’s legacy is unfurling against the backdrop of the Assembly elections in West Bengal. Is the BJP-led government about to dispel the disquiet surrounding Netaji in the coming months and will Chandra Kumar Bose get a ticket to contest the state elections?