A UK-based website set up to unravel the mystery surrounding Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s death recently released witness statements that seem to confirm that the freedom fighter died as a result of a plane crash in Taiwan.
“He died here. I was by his side… He died on 18 August last year (1945), (Subhas) Chandra Bose,” said one of witnesses, a Taiwanese nurse by the name of Tsan Pi Sha. “Whenever he regained briefly his consciousness, he felt thirsty. With slight groaning, he would ask for water. I gave him water several times.”
The other witnesses include two doctors who tended to an injured Bose, captain Taneyoshi Yoshimi of the Japanese army and an interpreter.
“There are no two opinions between the five witnesses about the fact that Bose’s end came on the night of 18 August 1945,” www.bosefiles.info said in a statement.
In September 1945, two intelligence teams from India led by police officers named Finney and Davis, assisted by HK Roy and KP De, went to Bangkok, Saigon and Taipei to investigate. They concluded Bose had died as a result of the air tragedy.
They, in fact, seized a copy of a telegram from the chief of staff of the Japanese southern army to Hikari Kikan, a body set up to liaise between the Japanese government and Bose’s Provisional Government of Free India.
Using the code “T” for Bose the cable dated 20 August 1945 said: “‘T’, while on his way to the capital (Tokyo), as a result of an accident to his aircraft at TAIHOKU (Japanese name for Taipei) at 1400 hours on the 18th was seriously injured and died at midnight on the same date.”
Between May and July of 1946, Lt Col JG Figgess of the British army too interrogated six Japanese officials in Tokyo in connection with the incident, among them two survivors — Lt Col Shiro Nonogaki and Lt Col Sakai — and Dr Tsuruta, on behalf of the UK’s Military Intelligence.
Dr Tsuruta submitted to Figgess: “…Bose asked him in English if he would sit with him throughout the night. However, shortly after seven o’clock (in the evening) he suffered a relapse and although the doctor once again administered a camphor injection he sank into a coma and died shortly afterwards.”
In his testimony to captain Alfred Turner of the War Crimes Liaison Section of Taiwan on 19 October 1946, medical officer in-charge of the hospital captain Taneyoshi Yoshimi said, “After the fourth hour (following his admission to the hospital) he appeared to be sinking into unconsciousness. He murmured and muttered in his state of coma, but never regained consciousness. At about 2300 hours he died.”
The interpreter, Nakamura, deposed before the 1956 Netaji Inquiry Committee headed by major general Shah Nawaz Khan that there was “not a word of complaint either of pain or suffering from his lips… This composure of Netaji surprised all of us.”
He went on to say that after Bose expired, the Japanese officers in the room stood in one line and saluted his body.
According to the website, Netaji’s aide-de-camp colonel Habibur Rehman, who was with him that fateful night and survived the crash, too went all the way from Pakistan to testify to the Inquiry Committee.
He submitted a copy of a statement written and signed on 24 August 1945, or six days after the crash. It read: “Prior to his death he (Bose) told me that his end was near and asked me to convey a message from him to our countrymen to the following effect: ‘I have fought to the last for India’s independence and now am giving my life in the same attempt. Countrymen! Continue the independence fight. Before long India will be free. Long Live Azad Hind (Free India)’.”