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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2558

Leader with only date of birth

By R.K.bhatnagar - Syndicate Features

Perhaps Subhash Chandra Bose is the only leader worldwide who had a date of birth (Jan 23, 1897) but no date of death. Even after three Commissions of Enquiry people do not believe that he is no more. Netaji, as he is endearingly addressed, Subhash was an embodiment of rare courage and bravery coupled with a sense of mission to free his motherland from the clutches of the British.

The Justice Mukherjee Commission appointed by the NDA government has submitted its report to the Central Government and after a large number of questions under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, and political pressure, the Government decided to share the full findings, which by and large don’t appear to resolve the mystery. There are people who hope that their beloved leader would return to steer the country out of the chaos.

Jawaharlal Nehru was so impressed by Subhash’s work in the INA that he wrote a postscript to ‘The Discovery of India’, on 29 Dec 1945 saying: “The story of INA, formed in Burma and Malaya during the war years, spread suddenly throughout the country and evoked an astonishing enthusiasm – they became the symbol of unity amongst the various religious groups in India for Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian were all represented in that army. They had solved the communal problems amongst themselves and so why should we not do so?”

For the past 62-years since the 1945 Taihoku plane crash, the nation has been grappling with the Netaji mystery. How did Subhash die? Where and when did he die? Did he live for some period in exile?

Netaji’s daughter Anita Plaff believes her father in all probability perished in the air accident. Anita Plaff, 66, who was in India said “I don’t think he survived. Unless some fantastically new evidence comes up, if I look at the data available to me, he did not survive”.

She also said, “I have been present at the interviews of some of the survivors of the plane crash, including some Japanese officers and their story sounded quite consistent, credible and reasonable”.

Elaborating further Anita said “there are stories circulating that my father is still alive. I do not think so. Yes, he continues to remain alive in the memories of scores of people, but it is impossible to believe that he is living at the age of 111”.

Anita has a point, if it is true that he is alive now or was alive for some years after the plane crash, Netaji would have definitely established contact with his homeland and not kept quiet for 62 odd years. The Shah Nawaz Committee (1956) and the Khosla Commission (1972), which probed Netaji’s disappearance, had concluded that he died in the plane crash.

Subhash was the most enigmatic leader of our freedom struggle. Beginning his political career with the Congress in the 1920 he was elected its president in 1938. The following year in 1939, Bose contested against and won though Mahatma Gandhi threw his weight behind Dr. Sitaramayya, his lone rival, saying “Pattabhi’s defeat is my defeat” Gandhi ‘s opposition of Bose – fostered doubtless by the latter’s strong Leftist leanings forced him to resign from the Congress, and he launched the Forward Bloc.

In 1939, the Second World War broke out. Subhash was arrested in Calcutta in July 1940. In December he went on a hunger strike in the prison as a protest against his continued detention and threatened to fast unto death if he was not released. The Government released him but kept a strict vigil at his house to watch his movements. The whole country was thrilled one morning in January 1941 to hear that Subhash had escaped. He got out of the house in the guise of a Muslim divine at dead of night. He got into a car and 40 miles away from Calcutta boarded a train. The tight Pyjama and a long beard made him look like a Maulvi. He reached Peshawar on Jan 17, 1941 and spent two days there. On Jan 19, he drove out of Peshawar, dressed as a Pathan.

The onward journey to Kabul was done partly on foot and partly in lorry in the guise of a deaf and dumb man. In Kabul he underwent the most excruciating physical and mental agonies before he reached Moscow. From Moscow he flew to Berlin in March 1941, with the assumed name of an Italian. It was nearly a year later that he revealed his presence in Berlin by speaking to his countrymen on German radio with glowing tributes to Gandhiji. In fact it was Subhash that called for the first time Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of Nation.

Subash landed in Singapore on July 2, 1943 and from then on knew no rest. Two days later he took over the leadership of the Indian Independence League and the INA from Rash Behari Bose. Netaji’s most extraordinary move was to form a provisional government of Azad Hind on Oct 21, 1943 and to declare war on Britain and America. The Azad Hind Government received recognition from nine sovereign countries soon.

In a broadcast from Rangoon addressed to Mahatma Gandhi seeking his blessings, Netaji said, “Once our enemies are expelled from India and peace and order were established, the mission of the Provisional Government would be over. The only reward that we desire for our efforts, for our suffering and for our sacrifice, is the freedom of our motherland. There are many of us who would like to retire from the political field once India is free”.

Such was his vision and thought.

Subhash inculcated in the INA not only courage and bravery but inspired supreme self confidence and fearlessness in the face of odds. The INA soldiers marched mainly on foot. They traversed the whole distance of 1100 miles separating Singapore from the Imphal front on foot. There were occasions when Subhash himself walked for miles. There were no fixed scales of pay. Everybody got enough to cover his needs. A Lieutenant got Rs.85, a captain Rs.125, a Major Rs.180, a Lt. Col Rs.300 and a Col. Rs.400. Yet there was a time when no body got more than Rs.250 for months.

Subhash collected donations from Indians through out Asia. Once during a mammoth meeting in Rangoon a flower garland which had earlier been offered to him fetched rupees two lakhs when auctioned. In Penang a small flower vase was presented to Netaji.

He announced his intention to auction it for Rs.25000. His eyes were filled with tears when the first bid was for Rs.51000. He collected Rs.25 crores from Indians in Burma now Myanmar. A Muslim business man gave away all his worldly possession worth over a crore of rupees. He even established a national Bank of Azad Hind in Rangoon. Once when the Burma Government had no money to make payments to its soldiers the Bank made a gift of Rs. 5 lakhs.

In brief Subhash was an embodiment of bravery and courage. He struck a new path, although he had earlier been following the Gandhian line. In statesmanship administrative ability and catholicity of views he was like Akbar. Morally, spiritually and intellectually he was like Swami Vivekananda.

- Syndicate Features -

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