The controversy surrounding the death of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose is like a phoenix. So very often, new compelling proofs of his incognito life rise from the very ashes of his death that occurred in a morbid plane crash in Taipei back in 1945.
Among the various controversies surrounding the fiery freedom fighter’s death, the existence of a certain monk by the name of Gumnami Baba (Annonymous Monk) had challenged that Netaji never dies in that plane crash. The theory had gained credulous importance when the Baba lived in Uttar Pradesh.
Even though there were speculations about the real identity of Gumnami Baba, there were no concrete proof to corroborate the claim that Baba was no common doppelganger but Netaji living in disguise. The recent discovery of some personal belongings of Gumnami Baba has once again shaken all beliefs about the mysterious disappearance of Bose.
Following the direction of the Allahabad High Court, authorities in Uttar Pradesh opened the two boxes of Gumnami Baba to prepare an inventory for a display in museum. What they found inside highly startled the authorities.
The boxes contain family photos of Bose, among other personal stuff of Baba. Shakti Singh, the owner of Ram Bhawan, has identified the family of Netaji in the photo.
The legend goes that Gumnami Baba lived for more than 30 years in various places of Uttar Pradesh: Lucknow, Faizabad, Sitapur, Basti and Ayodhya. Gumnami Baba had spent his final years from 1982 to 1985 in Faizabad’s Ram Bhawan. He died on September 16, 1985.
Apparently, Netaji’s niece Lalita Bose (daughter of Suresh Chandra Bose) had visited Gumnami Baba in Ram Bhawan in February 1986.
As if the photograph was not enough to puzzle the authorities, there also emerged several telegrams sent by senior officers of Indian National Army (INA) Pabitra Mohan Roy and Sunil Kant Gupta to Baba .
In the 1950s, several conspiracy theories had emerged that Netaji was alive. Other versions, too, began gathering credence when a photograph emerged that showed he attended Jawaharlal Nehru’s cremation in 1964.
But the Gummani Baba’s story has thrown the maximum number of substantial evidence that links him to the revered nationalist leader. Baba wore gold-rimmed spectacles similar to Netaji’s, he owned a powerful pair of Germany-made binoculars, he treasured a photograph of Swami Vivekananda, the original copy of the summons issued to Suresh Chandra Bose to appear before the Khosla Commission, a map of undivided India.
Earlier items recovered from his belongings were a torch pencil generally used in map-making by military personnel, newspaper clippings about Netaji’s ‘death’ probe, and letters from Netaji’s followers.
One of the more intriguing finds was a letter from a person who accompanied the Khosla Commission to Taiwan, which reads: “We got only 15 days in Taihoku (Taipei). Formosa’s (Taiwan) task is over… I cannot write everything in this letter, if you permit, I can come over for a week.”
Only last year, Netaji’s grandnephew Ashish Ray claimed that he had “irrefutable evidence” to prove Bose died hours after he was seriously burnt in the air crash on in Teipei, Taiwan, on August 18, 1945. Ray claimed two doctors, a nurse, an interpreter and Bose’s aide-de-camp Colonel Habibur Rehman have given eyewitness accounts of his last moments.
The recent finds may negate the claim of Netaji’s family. May be Gumnami Baba was after all our beloved Netaji. However, the nagging doubt remains; why would the fearless leader live incognito even when India was a free country and there was no threat to his life?
The mystery continues…