Netaji secret files - biggest skeleton in Nehru's closet

History is a relentless pursuer of truth. This is one truism that rulers and dictators throughout the ages have never quite learnt. The long arm of historical research is relentless in its pursuit of accurate facts. However far discredited rulers and their defendants - cum-acolytes try to run, the past  always catches up with them.

In India, we may be seeing the beginning of such a denouement. For the last 70 odd years, the powers that be in the Capital's Raisina Hill have steadfastly, resolutely and successfully fought to prevent the release of the secret files on Netaji that are in the custody of the Government of India. Defying the efforts of at least two Commissions of Enquiry, any number of questions raised in Parliament and innumerable RTI applications (after the RTI Act came into force in 2005), the mandarins in Delhi have obdurately refused to declassify the secret files on Netaji that are with the Central Government. As a result, the story of what really happened to the 'Prince among patriots' has never been known to Indians and to the people of the world.

The years between August 1945, when Netaji was last seen and heard of, and now, has seen many regimes in power in the country. Till Independence in August 1947, we had the colonial British administration at the helm of affairs. Since then, there have been a number of regimes, but barring the brief periods of 1977 to early 1980 and 1998 to 2004, it was basically the Congress that ran the country. Therefore, the primary culprits in stonewalling the release of the files on Netaji have been the Gandhitopiwallahs. Tragically, this infamy continues even now in the BJP-NDA regime; I will come back to this later.

There are indications from a number of sources that Netaji did not die in the crash in Taihoku airport in Formosa (Taiwan) on the August 18, 1945. Even the Justice Mukherjee Commission, the most credible and serious agency that looked into Netaji's alleged death, concluded that his death in the air crash could not be established conclusively and there doubts that the ashes in Renkoji temple in Tokyo were his. For quite some time, there have been reports that, after the Japanese surrendered to the Allies in August 1945, Netaji was helped by some senior Japanese officers to go to the Soviet Union. General Shidei was reportedly the person tasked with escorting Netaji to the Soviet frontier in Darien, after which he would contact the Soviet authorities on his own.

According to one version, Nehru was informed about Netaji seeking refuge in the Soviet Union in late August 1945.  He is even reported to have written to the British authorities about this, though this cannot be established definitively. Later on, there were periodic reports about Netaji having been imprisoned by the Stalin regime in a notorious gulag (prison camp) in Siberia, in the town of Yakutsk.  Professor Samar Guha, a long-time Socialist MP in the Lok Sabha in the 1960s and 1970s, wrote in his book, 'Netaji, Dead or Alive' that Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and others in the Congress and the Government were aware of Netaji's imprisonment in the former Soviet Union after 1945. However, they did not want him to return to India, as it would have caused havoc to Nehru’s Government and the Congress.

The person who comes out very poorly from all this is Nehru, and also Gandhi to a great extent. It is a matter of record that Nehru visited Singapore in 1946 at Mountbatten's invitation. During this visit, he had agreed to the demand of the Indian community in Singapore to place a wreath and flowers at Netaji's memorial, but opted out from the ceremony at almost the last minute. After becoming Prime Minister of Independent India, his treatment of the INA veterans was shameful and ignominious. Yet, such was his hold on the country and the Congress and the Government, that he got away clean with his decision to debar ex-INA soldiers and officers from joining the Indian Army. Even Jinnah did not stoop so low, since he allowed former INA members to join the Pakistan armed forces.

For decades, the country has been asking for the secret files on Netaji in the custody of the Government of India to be declassified and made available to the public. The previous Governments have stonewalled all such demands. Why the new Government has chosen to continue with this perfidy is a matter of shame and disappointment for all Indians.

The ostensible reason cited for the refusal is that releasing the files would adversely affect India's relations with friendly foreign Governments. The only two Governments that could possibly fall in this category are those of Russia (as the successor state to the old Soviet Union) and Britain. It is highly unlikely that Putin's Russia would like to protect the crimes of Stalin’s Soviet Union; even the last Soviet President, Gorbachev, was reportedly in favour of releasing the relevant information on Netaji in Soviet archives.

No, the needle of suspicion must fall on the British and Nehru's protectors in India. Subramanian Swamy has recently gone on record to say that Netaji died in the Soviet Union. A very probable explanation for this would be a Faustian pact between the notorious dictator, Stalin, his wartime allies, the British, and the Nehru Government. Stalin, of course, was capable of the most gruesome acts; his purges in the mid-1930s to wipe out his rivals are a copybook example of extermination of one's own comrades. Even worse, the paranoid Georgian almost decimated the Red Army after the German secret service under Canaris and Heydrich (the butcher of Lidice, a few years later) passed on the forged “Tukhachevsky letter” to him. Almost forty thousand senior Soviet officers, starting with Marshal Tukhachevsky himself, and senior Generals and Colonels in important posts, were executed by hastily-assembled firing squads. Many died chanting the Internationale. Therefore, I do not doubt that Stalin could have murdered Netaji at the behest of the British.

Coming to Nehru and the khadiwallahs, from 1947 onwards, generations of Indians have been fed the story from primary school onwards that the country's freedom struggle was basically conducted by Gandhi, Nehru and the Congress, with walk-on roles attributed to Sardar Patel and some others. Only a few brave and solitary scholars wrote about other movements and forces, such as the revolutionaries, Netaji and the INA.

If the secret files on Netaji become available in the public domain, it will be curtains for the Gandhi-Nehru-Gandhi cabal. That is why the babus in Government, who have residual loyalties to the 'First Family' are putting up such a last-ditch struggle to prevent the truth coming out at long last.

Courtesy Niti Central


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