West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the files on revolutionary leader and freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose declassified by the state government Friday contain letters supporting the theory that he was alive after 1945 and that his family was snooped upon.
During World War II, Netaji made unsuccessful attempts to free India from the British rule with the help of Nazi Germany and Japan.
“There are intercepts. I have seen the documents and it is clear from them that the family of Netaji was spied upon,” she told the media in Kolkata.
On the snooping, she said it was “unfortunate” that after India’s independence Netaji did not get due honour.
In addition, she said, some letters said that he was alive after his “disappearance”.
“There are certain letters where many have said he was alive after 1945,” the chief minister said.
In a letter written by Swiss journalist Dr Lilly Abegg to Netaji’s brother, Sarat Chandra Bose on December 9, 1949, intercepted at the Elgin Road Post Office, she writes, “I heard in 1946 from Japanese sources that your brother is still living.”
Abegg was then working as correspondent for the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche in Japan and China.
She told him that the good ties between Indian and Switzerland prevented her from telling everything too openly about Netaji adding that since she had not been in India, she could not take sides.
In an earlier letter dated November 1, 1949, she asked Sarat whether there was any news from Netaji. She said a United Press report indicated he was in Peking.
On August 20, 1965, a weekly secret survey of the Netaji Research Bureau by state intelligence officers intercepted communication between Sisir Kumar Bose (Netaji’s nephew) and Tatsuo Hayashida, the Japanese author of the book Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: His great struggle and martyrdom.
In it, Sisir mentions Dr Satya Narayan Sinha, a member of the parliament and former Indian Foreign Service officer, who told him that the erstwhile Formosa government had papers that raised doubts about Netaji’s death.
The files also reveal sustained surveillance of Netaji’s family and the activities of the Netaji Research Bureau in Kolkata.
Letters written to and from two addresses – 1, Woodburn Park, Calcutta – the residence of Netaji and his family and 38/2 Elgin Road – Netaji Bhawan – were intercepted at the Elgin Road Post Office and forwarded to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Special Branch, CID Calcutta.
The digitised version of the declassified 64 files is now available in a set of seven DVDs.
The original files are housed at the Calcutta Police Museum. The files will be accessible to the public from Monday on a first-come-first-served basis.
“Each page is important. Historians and researchers must study these files minutely. We must know the truth about the great, brave son of the soil,” Banerjee added.
The Trinamool Congress supremo said the central government should also declassify the files in its possession.
“The truth should come out. If there is nothing to hide, why is the Centre not declassifying (the files),” she asked.
An August 22, 1945, Tokyo Radio announced the ‘death’ of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in an air crash in Formosa (now Taiwan) on August 18, 1945, en route to Japan.
But the crash theory has been rejected by scores of Netaji’s followers and admirers. No photograph of the body, which was said to have been cremated in Taiwan, was released.
Theories about what “really happened” to Bose range from him being a Russian prisoner in Siberia to the claim that he spent his last years hiding in India as a holy man.
It was also said that he had faked his death to avoid being captured by US and UK forces after World War Two.
Recently, declassified files of the union home ministry revealed that the family of Netaji was placed under intensive surveillance from 1948 to 1968 by the central government.
The country had three Congress prime ministers during these 20 years — Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi.