Subhash Chandra Bose (January 23, 1897- August 18, 1945)
At the end of Subhas Chandra bose’s first term as the president of the Haripura congress session in the year 1938, the presidential elections of Tripura congress session took place and Subhas was re-elected as the president defeating Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya. But by this time the equation in the Indian national congress had changed. Despite of the fact that both these legendary leaders had a deep admiration for each other, their ideologies were poles apart. Subhas was against the charkha of Gandhiji and gave a call to lead India towards modernization.
On the other hand Gandhiji was against the use of force of arms and ammunitions to get independence. Gandhiji openly declared that Sitaramayya’s defeat was his defeat. He said that Subhas’s references to his colleagues were unjustified and unworthy. He remarked that since Subhas had criticized his colleagues as ‘rightists’, it would be most appropriate on his part to choose a homogeneous cabinet and enforce his action. Here comes the twist in the history of Indian politics and in the life of Subhas Chandra Bose alike. Had Gandhiji not said what he did, Bose would have never resigned from the post of the president and formed the forward block. Bose, now devoid of any support from ‘Indian politics and its leaders’ started mass movement and left for Germany incognito when he was house arrested by British government in his house in Calcutta and sought cooperation from Germany and Japan. In the year 1942, he started broadcasting messages from radio Berlin which aroused enthusiasm in monumental way in among Indians.
In July 1943, he reached Singapore from Germany. In Singapore he took over the reins of the Indian Independence Movement in East Asia from Rash Behari Bose and organized the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army) comprising mainly of Indian prisoners of war. He was hailed as Netaji by the Army as well as by the Indian civilian population in East Asia. Azad Hind Fauj proceeded towards India to liberate it from British rule. Enroute it liberated Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The I.N.A. Head quarter was shifted to Rangoon in January 1944. Azad Hind Fauj crossed the Burma Border, and stood on Indian soil on March 18, 1944. Japan and Germany were defeated in the Second World War and a result the INA could not fulfill its objective. On August 18, 1945, Subhash Chandra Bose was declared killed in an air crash over Taipei, Taiwan (Formosa). But there are people who believe that he was still alive and many Commissions were set up to find the truth but nothing could be found about his whereabouts.
In his journey, from the resignation from Indian civil services to join struggle for Indian independence to his purported death shrouded in the mystery, he never was admired ‘politically’ for his ideologies either by Gandhiji or by Nehru. Assuming that he was not dead in the air crash and he returned to India with concealed identity post independence and had met Gandhiji and Nehru who were at the pinnacle in the Indian politics at the time, he apparently would have reckoned that he had no point in coming overtly in case it was an incident post 15th august 1947 as his aim of complete independence was already fulfilled by then. But in both the cases it is apparent that it was indeed the politics of India that killed the legendary hero called Subhas Chandra Bose.
But here comes a very interesting other side of the story which has been fascinating every Indian since around last decade or so. It is a story of gumnami baba or Bhagwanji. On the night of 19 September, 1985 a body wrapped in tricolor was moved out of Ram Bhavan, a house in front of the circuit house in Faizabad. It was accompanied by 13 people including Dr. RP Mishra, Dr. Priyabrat Bannerjee and Saraswati Devi Shukla. Another man Ram Kishore Panda, a leading tirth purohit of Ayodhya was there who had been looking after Bhagwanji, the Saint who had just died. He cried out as the pyre was lit on the banks of Saryu at the Guptar Ghat – a place where Lord Ram was supposed to have shed his body. “We are only 13 to see him off on his last journey; there should have been 13 lakh!”
Due to the striking resemblance with Subhas Chandra Bose, it is said that gumnami baba was none other than Bose who had come to India via Russia, or some say via Nepal. It is said that gumnami baba entered Uttar Pradesh via Nepal in the guise of an ascetic (sadhu) and started staying in Ram Bhavan, Faizabad, from 1983.
The main reason which started making the headlines was that there was no concrete theory telling where had gumnami baba come from or what was his history. But this was not the only reason. As the story got unraveled, came many more astounding facts which made it inevitable that gumnami baba was Netaji himself living in disguise. In the lifetime of gumnami baba, many people from Bengal started meeting him after April 1962 when Atul Sen, an associate of Netaji met gumnami baba and recognized him. The doubt became clearer when after probing his house after his death, many belonging of gumnami baba was found which were related to Netaji such as– range of books and documents pertaining to Netaji, including the dissent report of Suresh Chandra Bose (Netaji’s elder brother) to the Shah Nawaz Committee that asserted that the patriot had died in the air crash. There was also the report of Radha Binod Pal who had dissented from the International Tribunal on whose report Japanese bigwigs, like H Tojo, the Japanese Prime Minister were sent to the gallows. There were also books on contemporary politics and the original photograph of the Baba the copy that had been released by Parliamentarian Samar Guha in the late 1970s to newspaper, claiming Netaji was in hiding. There were newspapers from 1964, with comments of the Baba on the side. All the stuff were later stored in the Faizabad district treasury where it still remains. Above all there were also many documents related with Indian National Army of Netaji. There have been many committees set up to probe about the death or disappearance of Netaji which instead of solving the case made it more complicated.
In the recent past, when RTI was filed to disclose the closely confined files related to Netaji, government of India refused to provide information under Right to Information Act. In response to RTI filed by Subhash Agrawal, Prime Minister Office declined to declassify files related to disappearance of Bose saying that, “Disclosure of documents contained in these files would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries. As such, these files are exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1) (a) read with Section 8(2) of the Right to Information Act,”. Out of 41 files related to the disappearance of Subhas Chandra Bose, only 2 have been declassified. These documents have been seen by Mukherjee Commission.
Whenever it seems that we are on the verge of finding how Netaji died or who gumnami baba was, any other hindrance come across the case and it seems as hard to find about Netaji’s life, death, living in disguise and gumnami baba’s identity, as it was when the whole case became known to the world about Netaji not boarding into the flight which was crashed on 18th august 1945 and when the world got to know about the uncanny resemblance between the life of that of gumnami baba with that of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
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