Saturday 27 February 2016

A Russian Tribute to Netaji Subhas

January (No. 3) 1997 issue of the Russian newspaper Patriot
Patriot, January (No. 3) 1997

This is 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.

Article titled 'Destiny and Death of Chandra Bose' written by Alexander Kolesnikov, a Professor of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences
Destiny and Death of Chandra Bose

Full text of the translated article -

One of the most mysterious personalities in the modern history of India is Subhas Chandra Bose. His name was on the lips of millions of people in the thirties and forties of this century. A leader of the radical progressive forces of India, Bose devoted all his life to the struggle for independence of his country.

Bose was born in an attractive region of India - Bengal. He studied in Calcutta and Cambridge. In the twenties he became one of the founders of the movement of youth and students and published the newspaper, Forward. In the thirties Bose was the leader of the radical Left wing of the Indian National Congress party. In 1939 with the support of the Communists and Muslims he was elected the President of the INC but later he quit this post and formed his own party, Forward Bloc. 

In his political views Subhas Chandra Bose was more radical than Jawaharlal Nehru who is widely known in our country. Bose, of course, 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 his eyes towards Germany and the USSR which were then allies. The Indian leader planned secret visits to both countries and meetings with their leaders as well as negotiations regarding assistance for the Indian people's armed struggle against the ruling British oppressors. 

Noteworthy was one of the points in Bose's programme which said: "The attitude of Soviet Russia to the aforementioned struggle for independence of India is extremely important. It would be quite significant to conclude a German-Soviet agreement on India. If such an agreement would be signed then it would be possible to get arms and people to Afghanistan and India through the territory of Russia." 

In January 1941 Subhas Chandra Bose arrived in Kabul with the hope of establishing contact with a representative of the Soviet leadership. Bhagat Ram Talwar, who had links with the representative of Soviet intelligence, Zaman (M. A. Allahverdov), tried to help him in this but the meeting due to some reason did not take place. However, Bose could manage to obtain a passport in the name of an Italian for travelling to Germany via Moscow. In Moscow Achhar Singh Chenna, an old friend of Bose and one of the leaders of Indian Communists, also 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 (mentioned above). Party archives on this still remains inaccessible. It cannot be ruled out that Stalin, who was afraid (and not without reason) of some international provocations, was not in any hurry to take any concrete step and decided to wait. In March 1941 Bose safely reached Berlin.

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. The Nazi leadership of the country had, of course, its own views on the development of the political situation and probably gave Bose some role on this score. What the views were only the German archives could tell and these are also safely concealed from the outsiders. But it is also possible to guess that during the long stay of the "Italian" Bengali in Germany 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 with the participation of Hitler's politicians and military experts. At that historical stage the military-political plans of fascist Germany and militarist Japan coincided with the aims of the liberation struggle of the Indian people against the British rulers because Great Britain happened to be their common enemy.  

Hitler's military command transported Bose to South-East Asia by a submarine which no doubt demonstrated the importance of the tasks he was entrusted with. In May 1943 Bose became the President of the League of Struggle for the Liberation of India which comprised three million Indians residing in Asia. At the same time a (sic) began the raising of the Indian National Army which was assigned the responsibility of marching to Delhi. Bose became the Commander-in-Chief of the new Army. In October 1943 the Interim Government of Free India was set up under his leadership. 

Being a politician equipped with a long-term vision, Bose understood that it was not possible to resolve the problem of national liberation of India without the participation of the USSR. Since the end of 1944 he once again strove to establish contacts with the Soviet leadership. With this aim in view he sent the authorised representative of Bose's Interim Government, Kato Kuchi, to Omsk with the rank of an Ambassador, but without the 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 national liberation struggle to the Chinese province of Yunan where the Communists were influential and from where it was more favourable to establish links with the USSR for the purpose of receiving assistance from the Soviet leadership. Bose went to Tokyo where he tried to meet the Soviet Ambassador Yakov Malik. Bose's letter was delivered to the Soviet Ambassador but history is silent about what happened thereafter. 

Subhas Chandra Bose was sceptical about London's political actions vis-a-vis India. "Now Great Britain," he said, "has come to realise fully well that other countries, for example, the Soviet Union, can support the independence of India and the British Government thought one step ahead to preclude such international support by compelling the Indian people to strike a compromise." Bose's compatriots in the freedom struggle pointed out that the Indian leader did not lose the hope of finding an ally in the form of the Soviet Union 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.

On August 16, 1945 Bose and his close associates flew from Singapore by a Japanese aircraft specially sent for him. The same day, Bose arrived in Bangkok and stayed there till the morning of the next day. On August 17 the whole command flew to Saigon but this time by two aircraft. The final destination was Tokyo. Following the interim stopover at Taihoku (Formosa) the right engine of the aircraft carrying Bose came to a stop during the takeoff and the aircraft fell on the ground. Thereafter there was a chain of mysterious evidences everyone of which was in contradiction with the previous one thereby confusing the real picture of what had happened. Only Bose suffered burns from the fire in the aircraft. He received third degree burns and died in the military hospital of Taihoku. According to some testimony, his body was transported to Tokyo but according to others, he was cremated at the site itself (in Taihoku).

It is quite strange for such an 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 perhaps it was a forced death engineered by the Indian leader's enemies?

There is one more version: 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 special commissions subsequently instituted in India to inquire into Bose's death agreed with any of these versions. This is the mystery of the century. 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 January 07, 1946 wherein the "latest in a series of anti-Soviet falsifications" was rejected in the then prevalent style. After 40 years in Gorbachev's time the well known political figure and a Member of Indian Parliament Prof Samar Guha requested the Soviet leadership to provide access to the CPSU archives. "The country should know what had happened with her leader," articulated in vain the Indian politician. In 1993 the same request from the Indian side was sent to President Yelstin. Till now there has not been any reply. But it is more clear in this case ....

In world history Subhas Chandra Bose undoubtedly remained a heroic and tragic figure. He was not responsible that his great hopes and efforts to liberate his intensely beloved and long suffering motherland did not come true. In the choice of allies only the gods do not make mistakes because they don't need any allies. But the flaming heart of the patriot and his selfless struggle, sincere loyalty to communist ideals doubtless brought nearer the great day of India's liberation from British colonisers. That is why the memory of Subhas Chandra Bose is preserved with gratitude by the following generations not only in his motherland but 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, may not have written the article with conjectures. 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 compelled to make the right efforts and get the necessary information from Russia that could finally solve Netaji mystery.

Jai Hind.

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  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?

  2. I read a few years ago in The Statesman an article by Rajinder Puri, who copied from Anuj Dhar`s special report published in the Hindustan Times that someone in Quetta, Balochistan in 1946 had seen Netaji in the company of the British Military Police taking him to the no-mans land between Balochistan and Iran to execute him.