Amid the files on Netaji declassified by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, is a letter by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, on the treasures of the Indian National Army. After inspecting the articles on 9 January 1953, Nehru wrote, “I saw this treasure. It made a poor show. Apart from some gold pieces, it consisted of some charred remains of some rather cheap jewellery, chiefly some silver and gold articles, all broken up. I think that this should be kept as it is. Apart from everything else, it is some evidence of aircraft accident and subsequent fire.” Questions have been raised earlier about the treasure that had gone missing after Netaji’s disappearance.
According to the files declassified, a witness said that the treasure was kept with Munga Rama Murti in Tokyo, before it was handed over to the Indian government. The bag had a steel suitcase and contained 13 yellow envelopes, two brown paper packets, a small gunny ban and a cloth bag. The packages contained gold rings, bracelets, watches, medals, nose rings, coins, etc.
According to another file, Netaji did not complain of any pain or suffering while he was admitted to a military hospital in Taihoku after the alleged plane crash in August 1945. “A few more of my men are coming after me. Please take care of them when they come to Formosa,” Netaji apparently said. According to the declassified documents, a person named Juichi Nakamura, who was an “eyewitness” to Netaji’s last moments, was taken to a room where Netaji was lying in a critically injured condition. There were bandages on his body and blood spots. According to Nakamura, he also saw Colonel Rehman in the hospital. “I want to sleep” were the last words of Netaji before he breathed his last around 9.30 pm on 18 August, 1945. Nakamura said, after about 10 minutes, he saw Netaji’s head fell forward on his chest and he died. The soldiers present in hospital room saluted after that. Nakamura’s statement was sent to M. Kutty, Under Secretary (MEA) by J.N. Dixit from Indian Embassy in Tokyo on 10 Octrober 1964. However, in an earlier deposition, Nakamura had said that he was not aware who the figure in the bandages was, but was told by Col Rehman that it was Netaji.
These documents were part of the first set of 100 files that were declassified on Saturday by the PM at the National Archives of India. Saturday also marked the birth anniversary of Netaji. The PM also launched a web portal, https://netajipapers.gov.in, to release online the digital version of the files.
“As a first step, the National Archives of India is placing 100 files relating to Netaji in public domain after preliminary conservation treatment and digitisation,” a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said. The statement added that the remaining files would be placed in the public domain after their conservation treatment and digitisation.
Bose family members Chitra Ghosh, Chandra Bose and Surya Kumar Bose were present during the declassification. The Prime Minister met Netaji’s family members after the function at the National Archives.
The Netaji family members and activists have welcomed the Centre’s move to declassify the secret files. Grandniece Chitra Ghosh said: “This will throw light on the mystery associated with Netaji. So far there is no document suggesting there was any plane crash, although the Shah Nawaz Commission did talk about this theory. We will have to go through all the documents. But one thing is certain that Congress was afraid of Netaji and therefore was hiding information about it all through the years.”
Neeladri Banerjee of the Open Platform for Netaji told The Sunday Guardian, “This is just the beginning. We will have to wait for the Intelligence Bureau (IB) files and also the files that are in the possession of Russia, Japan, Britain and China.”
Anuj Dhar, who has authored two books on Netaji, said this was a great day for the people of India as now they can get all the details related to the Netaji mystery. On the question of Netaji’s daughter Anita Pfaff saying that she believed he died in a plane crash, Dhar said, “This is not a question of what one feels or has an opinion on the issue. What matters is the fact. For example, it hardly matters what Priyanka Vadra feels about her father Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. We will only go by what the Special Investigation Team (SIT) says on the basis of evidences.” He also came down on the Congress, saying it never bothered to declassify the secret files. “Why were they hiding the files all through the years when it was in power,” he asked. Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said that the manner in which Modi government has carried out the declassification of files raised questions on its intent. He also said this was a deliberately created confusion and conspiracy by political forces and elements who have been ideologically opposed to the leadership of India’s struggle for Independence led by the Indian National Congress.
“Netaji had only one daughter and what she has said is in the public domain and the country must respect her sentiments because she has been anguished by this deliberately created mischief and controversy. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister, in order to deflect the attention from the miserable failure of his government on all fronts, is coming up with such ploys,” he said.
“Fabricated and forged document is being used to sensationalise and to defame one of India’s greatest sons,” he alleged.