Chennai: How did Subhas Chandra Bose die? To find the answer, the Indian government had appointed three commissions. The Shah Nawaz Committee (1956) and Khosla Commission (1970) said that Bose died in an air crash on August 18, 1945 at Taihoku airport in Japanese-occupied Taipei, while the Mukherjee Commission (1999) concluded that he did not die in an air-crash. The government, however, rejected the findings of the Mukherjee Commission. But that didn’t stop scholars from dwelling deep to find the truth.
Paris-based historian J B P More, who recently stumbled upon a brief French secret service report dated December 11, 1947 at the National Archives of France, has come up with a finding that Bose didn’t die in an air crash and was still alive in 1947.
“It is not stated in the document that Subhas Chandra Bose died in the air crash in Taiwan. Instead, it is reported that Bose’s present whereabouts were unknown as late as December 1947, which again implies that the French did not buy the theory that Bose died in the air-crash on August 18, 1945,” said More, who teaches at the Institute des Hautes Etudes Economiques et Commerciales, Paris.
The gist of the matter for the French secret service, according to More, is that Bose did not die in the air crash on August 18, 1945, as commonly held. “But he escaped from Indochina alive and his whereabouts were unknown as late as December 11, 1947, as reported in the secret document. This implies that he was alive somewhere but not dead in 1947,” said More, quoting the report written for the “Haut Commisariat de France for Indochina “SDECE Indochinese Base BCRI No. 41283 csah Ex No. 616, under the title: “Archival Information on Subhas Chandra Bose.” “In this report, it is clearly stated that he was the ex-chief of the Indian Independence League and a member of Hikari Kikan, a Japanese organisation. It is further stated clearly that he escaped from Indochina, though it does not state how,” he said.
The British and the Japanese too declared that Bose died in an air crash after he took off from Saigon on his way to Tokyo. But the French government had always been silent on the issue, though Vietnam/Indochina was a French colony during the 1940s. So the findings of More attain significance. “Very quickly after the Japanese debacle and surrender on 15th August 1945, the French arrived in Saigon, along with British troops and took charge of Saigon. But unfortunately they left no direct accounts of Bose’s death in the air crash. They had never endorsed the theory that Bose died in the crash,” said More.
Scholars like Kingshuk Nag said the findings in the report should be taken seriously . “Even though the Mukherjee Commission concluded that Bose didn’t die in an air crash, the government didn’t recognize it. The Centre’s idea to ‘declassify’ secret files on Bose may not help.But findings like this have significance,” said Nag, a noted journalist and author of the book “Netaji: Living Dangerously.”