Saturday, 27 February 2016

A Russian Tribute to Netaji Subhas

Patriot, January (No.3) 1997
Patriot, January (No. 3) 1997


I am sharing an article titled 'Destiny and Death of Chandra Bose' from the January (No. 3) 1997 issue of the Russian newspaper Patriot, written by Alexander Kolesnikov, a Professor of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, which hints at Subhas Chandra Bose's possible stay in the USSR after World War II and strengthens the demand to make official Soviet archives accessible to the public to solve the mystery of Netaji's disappearance.

A translated version of the article in English from the original Russian was published under the title 'A Russian Tribute to Netaji Subhas' in Mainstream, Vol. XXXV No. 32 dated 19 July 1997. The editor describes the article as an outstanding tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose published in the Russian media on the occasion of his birth centenary. The editor states that a few factual inaccuracies of minor importance in the article do not distort the main theme and devalue the essence of the write-up. The editor opines that the author has not concealed his communist convictions while indicating the possibility of Netaji having reached the Soviet Union at the end of World War II and has underlined the inconsistencies of all attempts to "establish" Netaji's "death". According to the editor, the article concludes with the reaffirmation of the durability of Indo-Russian relations which Netaji tried to promote and strengthens the demand to make the various archives of the erstwhile Soviet Union accessible to the public so that they throw considerable light on Netaji's disappearance and possible stay in the USSR after World War II. However the editor expresses concern over certain vested interests connected with Indian and Russian officialdom striving their utmost to withhold information in that regard.

Destiny and Death of Chandra Bose
Destiny and Death of Chandra Bose

Abridged highlights of the article -

Subhas Chandra Bose was one of the most mysterious personalities in the modern history of India. As a leader of the radical progressive forces of India, he devoted all his life to the struggle for independence of his country.

Bose was born in Bengal (Cuttack) and he studied in Calcutta and Cambridge. In the twenties, he joined the movement of youth and students and published (read edited) the newspaper 'Forward'. In the thirties, he was the leader of the radical Left wing of the Indian National Congress party. In 1939, he was elected the president of the INC but later he quit this post and formed his own party 'Forward Bloc'.

Bose had his sympathies with the USSR and through his ties with the Indian Communists, he hoped to get the support of the Soviet leadership for the national liberation struggle in India. Reaching the conclusion that national liberation warranted armed struggle Bose turned towards Germany and USSR which were then allies and planned secret visits to both countries and meetings with their leaders to negotiate for assistance for India's struggle against the ruling British oppressors. 

One of the points in Bose's programme was to conclude a German-Soviet agreement on India so that it would be possible to get arms and people to Afghanistan and India through the territory of Russia. 

In January 1941 Bose arrived in Kabul and tried to establish contact with a representative of the Soviet leadership with the help of Bhagat Ram Talwar who had links with Zaman (M. A. Allahverdov) of the Soviet intelligence, but the meeting did not take place due to some reason. While Bose was travelling to Germany via Moscow, one Achhar Singh Chenna who was his old friend and a leader of the Indian Communists, tried to organise meetings of the 'transit' guest with the highest leadership of the Soviet Union. Most probably such a meeting took place because later Bose sent a letter to Molotov from Berlin expressing gratitude. It is just possible to guess what was Moscow's reaction to Bose's proposals and the party archives on this still remain inaccessible. It cannot be ruled out that Stalin who was afraid of some international provocations, was not in any hurry to take any concrete step and decided to wait.

The outbreak of the Great Patriotic War put paid to the plan of German-Soviet assistance to the Indian people and made Bose a hostage of his noble idea of liberation of India because at that time he was in Germany. Though the views of the Nazi leadership on Bose's role with respect to the development in the political situation remain concealed in German archives, a detailed plan of financial, material and military aid to the national liberation movement in India from the side of Japan and indirectly Germany was drawn up by Hitler's politicians and military experts. At that time the military-political plans of fascist Germany and militarist Japan coincided with the aims of Indian struggle against the British rulers as Great Britain was their common enemy.  

Hitler's military command transported Bose to South-East Asia by a submarine and he took over the control of the League of Struggle for the Liberation of India (IIL) and raised the Indian National Army to march to Delhi. In October 1943 the Interim Government of Free India was set up under his leadership. 

Bose being a politician with a long-term vision, understood that the national liberation of India was not possible without participation of the USSR and he again strove to establish contact with the Soviet leadership since the end of 1944. He sent Kato Kuchi as the authorised representative of the Interim Government to Omsk with the rank of an ambassador but without proper official documents. There is evidence to the effect that Kato Kuchi reached Omsk but it is not known if the planned contacts took place. By the beginning of 1945, Bose visualised the transfer of the centre of the liberation struggle to the Chinese province of Yunan where the Communists were influencial and a favourable place to establish links with the USSR. He went to Tokyo where he tried to meet the Soviet Ambassador Yakov Malik. His letter was delivered to the Soviet Ambassador but history is silent about what happened thereafter.

Bose was sceptical about London's political action vis-a-vis India. He commented that the British Government had realised that other countries such as the Soviet Union could support the independence of India and hence thought one step ahead to preclude such international support by compelling the Indian people to strike a compromise. Bose's compatriots point out that he did not lose hope of finding Soviet Union as an ally in his struggle against the British rulers.

The end of World War II rapidly pushed Bose closer to the tragic fatal point of his destiny. He predicted the inglorious end of militarist Japan but formally he remained the military ally of the Japanese. He wanted the Soviet leadership's assistance but at the same time he was the head of the Interim Government of Free India which was not recognised by the USSR.

Bose and his close associates flew from Singapore by a Japanese aircraft on 16 August 1945 and reached Bangkok and stayed there till next day morning. On 17 August 1945 the whole command flew to Saigon in two aircrafts and the final destination was Tokyo. Following the interim stopover at Taihoku (Formosa), the aircraft carrying Bose fell on the ground after the takeoff. Thereafter there was a chain of mysterious evidences which were contradictory to each other thereby confusing the real picture of what had happened. Bose received third degree burns and died in a military hospital of Taihoku. According to some testimony his body was transported to Tokyo but according to others he was cremated in Taihoku.

It is quite strange for such important political figure that there was no documented evidence of his death - photographs, protocols, formal identification etc. There were no material proofs of the person's death. What could this mean? Did Bose disappear himself or was someone instrumental in his disappearance? Or did the sudden aviation catastrophe spoil all the plans of Bose's disappearance? Or was it a forced death engineered by the Indian leader's enemies?

There is one more version that Bose was abducted by Stalin who by then began to 'collect' interned political figures of foreign countries. As a matter of fact on one side Bose was a recognised national leader and on the other the political situation in India was contradictory and unpredictable. Then why should not Bose be kept near him for sometime? Stalin had taken the last emperor of China as his captive. If this version is to be believed, probably there should have been some secret gentleman's agreement between the USSR and Great Britain because Bose was considered an ally of the enemies of the anti-Hitler coalition.

It is remarkable that none of the commissions subsequently instituted in India to inquire into Bose's death agreed with any of these versions. This is the mystery of India. This is a mysterious point in Soviet-Indian relations. There was no definite reply from the Soviet side to the repeated statements that Bose remained alive and he was in the USSR. There was only one brief notification in Pravda on 07 January 1946 wherein the "latest in a series of anti-Soviet falsifications" was rejected in the then prevalent style. In Gorbachev's time, Indian MP Prof. Samar Guha requested the Soviet leadership to provide access to the CPSU archives stating that the country should know what happened with her leader, but it was in vain. In 1993 the same request was sent from the Indian side to President Yelstin but again there was no reply. But it is more clear in this case ...

Bose remained a tragic hero in world history. He was not responsible that his hopes and efforts to liberate his motherland did not come true. In the choice of allies only the gods do not make mistakes because they don't need allies. It is doubtless that the flaming heart of the patriot and his selfless struggle, sincere loyalty to his communist ideals brought the day of India's liberation from the British nearer. The memory of Bose is preserved with gratitude by generations of people all over the world.  

Among them are the people of Russia whose friendly relationship with the Indian people cannot be affected by any political cataclysm and changes in the "incumbent" authorities.

Concluding remarks -
  
As readers draw their own conclusions from the above article they need to keep in mind that Alexander Kolesnikov being a Russian and a man of stature would not write an article with conjecture specially when such conjecture points unfavorably towards his own nation. He may have been privy to certain information which is presented in a subtle manner through this article appearing in the Russian media. Let us strengthen our movement so that the Indian Government is forced to make the right efforts and get the necessary information from Russia that could finally solve Netaji's disappearance mystery.

Jai Hind!

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1 comment:

  1. Wasn't this Bhagat Ram Talwar (who was a double British agent) betrayed Netaji that eventually caused INA to lose grounds in Burma and later surrender by the Japanese that ended WWII?

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