Subhash Chandra Bose: Last days of Indian freedom fighter still a matter of speculations, conspiracy theories

Updated: Jan 23, 2022, 04:39 PM(IST)

As India celebrates the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as 'Parakram Diwas' on January 23.

Here's a look at all the conspiracies theories and mysteries related to Netaji's life and death

Legacy of Netaji

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, a prominent figure in India's freedom fight against oppressive British rule, was born on January 23 in 1897 in Cuttack — today the state of Odisha in India. It was known as the Orissa Division of Bengal Province during the British colonial rule in India. 

In 2021, Indian government announced that his birth anniversary will be celebrated as 'Parakram Diwas' every year, marking the start of Republic Day celebrations instead of a day later. 

He gained a hero-like stature among Indians for defying the brutal colonial rule. An Indian nationalist Bose is known for establishing the Azad Hind Fauj. 

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Subhas Chandra Bose's life

Subhas Chandra Bose was born into wealth and privilege - something the majority of Indians only dreamed of during the British Raj. He was sent to England for higher studies, however, he returned to India in 1921 and joined the nationalist movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and other freedom fighters. 

He joined the Congress and even became the party's president in 1938 but after conflicts emerged within the party, he had reportedly stepped down as the president and was eventually ousted from the party. But he continued his work from India's freedom. 

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Bose's death

Bose's death occurred from third-degree burns said to be on August 18 in 1945 after his plane crashed in Japanese-ruled Formosa, a region now known as Taiwan. 

However, the circumstances, the exact time, real date, actual location, in fact, the year of his passing away remain a mystery with thousands of conspiracy theories still circulating. 

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Death anniversary on August 18

Despite the death shrouded in mystery, India commemorates the death anniversary of Bose on August 18 every year.

Some historians and significant biographers claimed that Netaji died in a plane crash on that day in 1945. 

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The conspiracies and mysteries

The seed of conspiracy was planted when Netaji's brother Suresh Chandra Bose refused to sign an investigative report on his, hinting that it was a cover-up. He even blamed several top political leaders, including Jawaharlal Nehru for it. 

In 1966, Suresh Bose reportedly claimed that Subhas Chandra Bose is all set to make a return, indicating that he was still alive. 

Ever since there were several unfounded reports of Netaji sightings but nothing concrete was ever documented. But some Indians always had the thought in mind that 'Netaji is alive'. 

For some time, there were rumours that Netaji is living like a saint named 'Gumnami Baba' in Uttar Pradesh state in disguise. 

Also, Retired Major Gen. GD Bakshi in his book claimed that the reported crash was just a distraction. The Japanese used the crash incident to help Bose escape to Russia.

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More questions...new claims

A new translation of a letter in Japanese written by the chief priest of Tokyo's Renkoji temple, keeper of an urn containing ashes and bone fragments believed to be those of Subhas Chandra Bose, to the Indian government in 2005 revealed that permission was given for DNA test of the remains to the Justice MK Mukherjee Commission, reported news agency PTI. 

However, for inexplicable reasons this portion of the letter was not translated and a bland edited English version was attached to the Justice Mukherjee Commission's report on the disappearance of Bose as evidence that "on account of the Temple Authorities reticence... The commission could not proceed further (on the issue of DNA tests)".

The Commission later used this to conclude that the ashes were not of Netaji's, giving credence to speculations that he may have survived to become an ascetic or prisoner in a Russian prison.

Madhuri Bose, the legendary freedom fighter's grand-niece -- the grand-daughter of his brother Sarat Bose, told PTI, "We recently commissioned the fresh translation after we found inconsistencies in the Mukherjee Commission report and found several paragraphs in the letter written in Japanese missing from the official English version in the Justice Mukherjee Inquiry Report."

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