The Netaji controversy refuses to find closure even when secret files are no longer classified. The recent release of 100 confidential files on the 119th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. has opened a can of worms. The event, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi made digital copies of the files public at Delhi’s National Archives of India (NAI) in the presence of a dozen of Bose’s family members, has sent social media on a feeding frenzy.
The debate was imminent, considering the bare facts that have emerged out of the files left to gather dust for decades. There are a couple of conspiracy theories on the mysterious disappearance of the freedom fighter, and we all want to know what really happened.
Last October, PM Narendra Modi tweeted, “There is no need to strangle history. Nations that forget their history lack the power to create it.” This tweet was an omen for the already cornered the Congress party. Among these files, the one that has caught the imagination of India is a letter apparently written by India’s first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru. He called Bose a ‘war criminal.’
The Twitter battle is now between the two hashtag parties – #NehrukilledBose, and #Bhaktsfakeletter. One party is convinced that the fierce leader was killed as part of a conspiracy hatched by Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru, since Bose was becoming a threat to Gandhi’s idea of non-violence. The other one terms this as a conspiracy by the ruling BJP to tarnish the image of India’s first PM and the Congress. A standard, but stale argument.
This is not new, considering the fact that the Bose family itself is divided over the idea of his disappearance. Chandra Kumar Bose, the grand nephew of Netaji, had reportedly said, “I don’t believe the air crash theory. We may not get all the answers today, but I do hope that some indications will be given.” Subhash Chandra Bose’s daughter, Anita Bose, on the other hand states that her father had died in a plane crash.
A pro-Congress supporter has pointed out in Twitter that the Nehru letter was all but a shame, because it’s riddled with glaring grammatical errors and typos. He has put up a corrected picture of the letter to validate his argument. Going by this, it’s quite unlikely that Jawaharlal Nehru, who had mastery over English language, will think of sending an erroneous letter to the British government, without having a cursory glance at it. And the important point of the debate: the letter is not signed.
Noted historian Ramchandra Guha has negated the authenticity of the letter on twitter: “To those who asked, the letter allegedly written by Nehru to Attlee about Bose is completely inauthentic.”
There is another document that was put on display that day. The file categorically says that Netaji’s name could have never appeared as a ‘war criminal’ by UK at the end of World War II. According to the file, the Indian High Commission in UK said list of war criminals was only drawn up for Japanese and German citizens. Going by this fact, Nehru couldn’t possibly have sent a letter to England labelling Bose as a ‘war criminal.’ This particular file, though, is not talked about much as it puts an end to the whole Nehru conspiracy.
The shroud of mystery around Netaji’s death is only getting murkier. The revelations, instead of settling the matter, has taken a worrying turn.