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Set up a multi-disciplinary inquiry to crack Bhagwanji/Netaji mystery

Feb 28, 2013


Set up a multi-disciplinary inquiry to crack Bhagwanji/Netaji mystery

Indians world over want to
know the fate of 
Subhas Chandra Bose

  • Anuj DharPetition by
    India To: 
    Akhilesh Yadav, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh 
    Dear Mr Yadav

    In a momentous turn of history, you, India's youngest chief minister, are now in a position to initiate a process that could settle the nation's oldest and longest running political controversy. The youth of the country therefore now look up to you with great hope that, in view of the recent directions of the Lucknow bench of the Honourable High Court, you will take the lead in unraveling the great puzzle regarding the fate of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. While every Indian has heard of the controversy surrounding the fate of Netaji, not many are aware that the most probable of the three current theories is actually centred in Uttar Pradesh.

    In brief, whatever happened to Netaji can be explained by only one of three options before us today. He either died in Taiwan, or in Russia or in Faizabad. In 1985 when a mysterious, unseen holy man called Bhagwanji was reported dead, controversy about his identity erupted in Faizabad and soon made headlines across the nation. It was said that this man was actually Subhas Chandra Bose. Later, after local journalistic enquiries upheld this angle, Lalita Bose, a niece of Netaji, approached High Court for a proper inquiry. The court gave an interim order to secure the holy man's belongings.

    Bhagwanji, now better known as Gumnami Baba, was a complete recluse who lived on rented accommodations in Neemsar, Ayodhya, Basti and Faizabad. He never ever set a foot outside in daylight and inside never showed his face to anyone except a few of his selected followers. In early years he would not even speak for his deep resounding voice and flawless English, Bangla and Hindustani attracted attention he evidently avoided. Those who saw him said he looked like an "aged Netaji". He spoke of "his" time in Germany, Japan, London and even in a Siberian concentration camp, where he said he reached after a "concocted story" of his death in an air crash. Regular visitors to him included former revolutionaries, key politicians and INA secret service personnel.

    In 2005 the report of Justice MK Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry set up on the order of Calcutta High Court reached a finding that Subhas Chandra Bose did not die in Taiwan in 1945 as was reported and was actually heading towards Soviet Russia at the time of his disappearance.

    On 31 January 2013 the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, after combining the petitions of Lalita Bose and the owner of the house where Bhagwanji stayed in Faizabad, directed your Government to consider appointing a panel to find out "the identity of late Gumnami Baba".

    As the whole issue is politically volatile and in the realm of intelligence and state secrecy, we are not sure how you would be advised by the secrecy conscious officials to act in response to the court decision. When the matter is brought before you for a decision, red flags might be raised on the following counts.

    1. The 1985 police inquiry report available in Faizabad DM's office doesn't seem to say that this man was Netaji.

    2. The finding of the Mukherjee Commission regarding Bhagwanji was that he was not Netaji.

    3. The DNA of Bhagwanji's teeth did not match with the DNA obtained from the Bose family members.

    The police inquiry by then SSP of Faizabad concluded that "on inquiry it could not be ascertained as to who was the deceased man", which in plain English means that police found no clear clue about Bhagwanji's identity. In previous state administrations, a politically motivated spin was put on the report to give out that the police had found out that this man was not Netaji.

    We would also like to draw your attention to the fact that the report of the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry dwelt in detail about the Faizabad angle and concluded that "in absence of any clinching evidence" it could not be accepted that Bhagwanji was Netaji. In other words, the commission accepted that there was evidence linking Bhagwanji to Netaji, but it was not clinching.

    The Commission was not able to find a clinching evidence essentially due to the fact that 7 teeth found from Faizabad and assumed to be of Bhagwanji did not show a DNA match with the blood samples provided by Netaji's family members. These tests were carried out in Central Government labs and the Commission was very critical of the Central Government in its report. In fact, it is believed that a forensic fraud was perpetrated in this case.

    To give you an example sir, "Anandabazar Patrika", a Bengali newspaper that shares the opinion of the Central Government on Netaji death matter, carried a report in December 2003 that the DNA test on Bhagwanji's assumed teeth was negative. Later, before Press Council of India "Anandabazar Patrika" admitted that this news was based on a "scoop". But the problem is that the DNA test in question had not even started properly in December 2003 and, taking other factors into consideration, one can easily deduce that the "scoop" represented a premeditated "plant" by the Central authorities. They are not interested in finding a solution to the Netaji mystery for political reasons.

    Obviously MK Mukerrjee, a former Supreme Court of India judge, was aware of such dirty tricks and that's why in 2010 he made a statement that he was "100 per cent sure" that Bhagwanji was Netaji indeed, ignoring the findings of the DNA and handwriting tests conducted by government experts. It will be pertinent to mention here that the topmost handwriting expert Mr B Lal Kapoor (former Chief Government Examiner of Questioned Documents) opined that Bhagwanji's handwriting in both English and Bangla matched with that of Netaji's.

    As recorded by people who used to visit him, Bhagwanji used to say that after spending some years in a gulag he left Soviet Russia in 1949. He claimed to have engaged thereafter in covert operations to counter world powers', especially America's, clout in Asia. He was coming in and out of India through the years. He feared that if he came out in the open, the world powers would go after him and Indians will be caught in cross-fire.

    He'd say, "My coming out is not in India's interests. There will be sanctions and the people will suffer." He was under assumption that he was branded a war criminal with the complicity of the Indian leadership and that Allied Powers regarded him as their foremost enemy due to his post-1949 activities. He also claimed that the day the documents concerning the Transfer of Power in 1947 were made public, Indians would know why he went into hiding.

    Intriguingly enough, in December 2012 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London, informed one of us that it was holding one file concerning transfer of power which "remains sensitive under Section 27(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act (international relations)" and "its release could compromise our relations with the countries concerned".

    Sir, the purpose of getting into all these details is just to sensitise you about the matter which is not what it seems at first look. All that the signatory of this petition want is that the truth must come out. We must know who Bhagwanji was. Was he Netaji or some "imposter" set up by the Central Government as some people have alleged? Was he really in Russia and China before he came to India in 1955 or was Netaji killed in Russia, as many have alleged?

    Justice Devi Prasad Singh and Justice Virendra Kumar Dixit of the Lucknow bench of the Honourable Allahabad High Court were impressed enough by the facts concerning Bhagwanji to suggest a thorough inquiry. We hereby request that you order your administration to follow the court decision which desires that your Government should consider appointing "a committee consisting of a team of experts and higher officers, headed by a Retired Judge of High Court, to hold an enquiry with regard to the identity of late Gumnami Baba alias Bhagwan Ji".

    We, the admirers of Subhas Chandra Bose from all over the world, also request that the inquiry instituted by your Government:

    1. Should be multi-disciplinary, constituted after talks with all stakeholders and empowered by the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 so that it has powers of a civil court to summon any person from any part of the country and require him to furnish information under oath, and requisition any official record from any State or Central Government office.

    2. Should have for members retired police, IB, R&AW and state intelligence officers and that UP Government must exempt all serving and retired officials, especially those from intelligence, from the oath of secrecy so that they can depose freely in supreme national interest.

    3. Should also have for members a representative of the civil society and an eminent journalist to ensure transparency and fair play. It should submit monthly status reports to the High Court and finish the inquiry in 6 months.

    4. Should consider summoning all secret records about Netaji and Bhagwanji held by the Central and State governments. This must include the records of intelligence agencies. The Intelligence Bureau's records in its UP offices should be summoned in full and under no circumstances should the IB local offices be allowed to remove/destroy even one shred of paper.

    5. Should ensure that Bhagwanji's handwritings and other forensic material is sent to some reputed American/British lab for testing.

    We look forward with great hope that you, as the Chief Minister and a youth leader, will fulfill the wishes of the admirers of Netaji across the world.

    With warm regards

    Yours sincerely

    Anuj Dhar
    Writer, "India's biggest cover-up"

    Chandrachur Ghose
    Writer of an upcoming book on Netaji and head of
    [Your name]
  • ...



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