A million dollar question
Pradip Kumar Dutta
Did Netaji Subhash really die in the Taihoku air crash? History says so. A Japanese air force transport aircraft flying out of Saigon bound for Tokyo reportedly made special arrangements to accommodate the great leader of INA and one of his closest aides Habibur Rahman. It was supposed to stop for refuelling in Taihoku(present day Taipei of Taiwan)of Formosa. It's next planned move was to drop Netaji Subhash and Habibur Rahman at Dairen(now Dalian in PR China)of Manchuria,till then under Japanese control and fly with the remaining twenty odd high ranking Japanese military personnel towards Tokyo. According to available records,on 18 August,1945 the plane crashed in Taihoku airport and Netaji with his companion Habib were rescued with high degree of burns. Col Habib's burns were in lesser degrees and he survived. But the leader was not as lucky. He lost consciousness within a couple of hours of the crash and succumbed to his burn injuries a few hours later. This is the more or less accepted official version of the story. So, that is the end of the colourful political and military career of the apparently most brilliant anti British colonial figure of India.
Netaji had a huge diehard supporter base in his homeland who did not buy the story. They kept on believing that Netaji with his military acumen and high acceptability amongst the world's leaders of his time,not only survived the crash but managed to escape. Many proofs and points have always been put forward in later years to that effect and till today way too many of Indian population and their supporters abroad have not deviated from their viewpoint.
It is believed by Netaji's followers that due to Netaji's extraordinary quality of befriending and convincing people,he was a friend to or could earn the confidence of Ho Chi Minh,Mao Tze Dong and Joseph Stalin. He stayed back in Saigon for some time. Then he traveled via the rugged terrain of Manchuria to reach Siberian part of USSR. By then the Japanese surrender had taken place. Though they were on the same Allied Forces,USSR and USA's unity was falling apart. The seeds of the Cold War were sown and Netaji became close to the Communist leaders though he never supported the idea of Communism,a God less society according to him. He rather predicted that though temporarily successful,this ideology will not last long. It was somewhat similar to his being a part of the Axis Forces,though he was not a supporter of Fascism. His theory was to become friendly to enemy's enemy to achieve own goal. But being on the losing side in WW2 he was in the list of enemies of the Allied Forces. So, according to the sources of his followers he first landed in the Gulags of the Soviet far east. But as the Cold War progressed and as Stalin could assess his potentials as a real Indian Hero,still popular in India,Netaji was allowed to live a free life and he chose to spend most of a certain period of around ten years incognito in the barren Northern part of China. Some even believe that as a great military strategist,Netaji helped Uncle Ho and Chairman Mao during this time in formulating their military strategies and formulation of their policies in running their Governments.
This controversy is still very much alive and the writer was very much interested to explore more whenever possible. Since a lot of articles and books were written about Netaji's reappearance in certain areas of Uttar Pradesh, the writer had an intention of visiting the area to know more about the story of Netaji's possible presence there. So, during my recent trip to India,tour plans were chalked out accordingly.
Though it was very difficult and the concerned people tried to remain elusive for long,I could meet a few people and specially the owners of the house named Ram Bhawan which was reported to be the last abode of the ascetic Bhagawanji or Gumnami Baba,who is strongly believed to be the incognito leader in Lucknow/Neemsar/Basti/ Faizabad area of Uttar Pradesh for a good part of about 30 years of his life.
As has been mentioned earlier,the official position of all concerned countries,ie India,USSR and China was sealed by the fact of the air crash in Formosa on 18th August,1945 and they endorsed that Netaji lost his life in the said accident. But for those who do not believe in this story, the balance of my write up may be interesting.
Netaji's INA fought gallantly in the WW2 against the Allied Forces,most part of which were British Army and British Indian Army in the South East Asian theatre. From their joining the war in 1943, they had initial success and raised the Indian tri colour flag first in Andaman and Nicobar islands. He renamed them as Shahid and Swaraj islands. Later with further success of INA and Japanese forces in the Burma front, the leader moved towards mainland India approaching from the North Eastern side. His forces reached as far as Manipur and Nagaland. He established his HQ at Moirang which is merely at a distance of 30 km from Manipur capital Imphal. The Azad Hind Government was formed and Indians living in the Far East and many in India started dreaming of an Independent India. Netaji was convinced that the Colonial British Administration could only be evicted by force and armed struggle. This was the main point of difference between Netaji Subhash and the mainstream Congress and other Indian leaders,who believed that British colonial regime could be pursued to leave India by negotiation and political means. Netaji's point looked to be coming true as the Quit India movement also failed and most of the Indian political leaders were put behind the bars during the War.
On the other hand Netaji's forces were partnering with the Axis forces and had already set their feet on the Indian soil. The Azad Hind Government was set to run free India under Netaji's leadership and was already recognised by 11 countries. The war was far from being over.There were do or die battles on the Imphal-Kohima axis between the two sides for a long time and the luck of victory reversed. The Allies had a better supply line and the INA and Japanese forces had to negotiate a hostile terrain of mountains and dense Burmese jungles for their supplies and reinforcement. This finally stopped the Axis advancement after the crucial last battle in the tennis courts of Kohima DM. In the battles to take Imphal,the INA could not succeed.Though the INA forces could penetrate upto 250 km inside Indian territory, the tempo was lost. The Japanese could not keep the supply chain in tact and had orders from Tokyo to retreat temporarily and Netaji Subhash had to order his forces to retreat as well. INA was expecting an uprising in India, specially in Bengal coinciding with their setting feet on Indian soil. This , unfortunately didn't happen. The war cabinet of Churchill took drastic inhuman steps of depleting Bengal of food grains on the context of depriving the advancing Axis forces of supplies. They also restricted communication in eastern part of Bengal by confiscating boats,carts,elephants,bullock carts and other means of communication. A huge amount of food grains were exported to other theatres of war to feed Allied forces. All these reasons caused unprecedented famine of 1943 causing about three million deaths but the Indian leaders could not rise to the occassion as expected by Netaji.
The course of the war reversed and the Axis forces of Germany,Italy and Japan started seeing themselves on the losing side ever since. Netaji had enough wisdom to fathom the situation. He retreated first to Rangoon and then to Singapore. Many of the INA fighters were lost in war and taken as POWs by the Allied forces. Netaji had to shelve his dream of freeing his Motherland from the clutches of Colonialism for the time being and issued orders to his Azad Hind Government subordinates about how to act further and to go back to regular civil life for the time being. Japan also was in bad shape and was already on the losing side in all theatres of the War. It could not support the Azad Hind Government any further. Hukumat e Azad Hind finally ceased functioning after the reported death of the leader in the aforesaid Taihoku plane crash. But the firm belief that the British Colonisers can be driven out by force was instilled in the minds of the Indians which became evident soon thereafter. This was the credit of Netaji and his Azad Hind Government and INA. Series of events may be mentioned here. The military trial of (on test basis,others were to follow)INA commanders Maj Gen Shah Nawaz,Col Sehgal and Col Dhillon were held in Delhi's Red Fort.The life sentences awarded to all three had to be condoned by the C-in-C FM Auchinlek in the face of widespread protests all over India. The British authorities tried them as traitors and for revolting against the crown. Whereas the Indians in general treated them as Heroes and Liberators of their Motherland. There was well felt uneasiness amongst British Indian Army's ranks. They started disobeying European officer's orders. The Royal Indian Navy's Bombay base revolted. This action was followed by mutiny of naval personnel in some other bases as well. There were visible tension, uneasiness and disobedience in several Army garrisons too. Prime Minister Atlee is on record mentioning the above as reasons besides political discontent and the Raj promise of Cripps Mission as the prime considerations for granting India freedom. Lord Mountbatten,the then Governor General was so tense that he preponed the declaring of Independence of India and Pakistan by several months. Having enumeration of the successes of Netaji's INA and Azad Hind Government let us go back to have a look at the version of those historians,journalists, Netaji's close associates and millions of Indians who believed and still continue to believe that Netaji did not die in any plane crash. Rather he lived a long life thereafter and remained incognito for various reasons. Some even put forward the argument that there was no plane crash on that day in Taihoku. It is strongly believed by this section of people that Netaji Subhash remained in Saigon for some time and planned his next course of action. Atom bombs have already been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan having lost the war on all fronts was on the verge of surrender. There was no future for INA with Japanese assistance. So, on principal he agreed to dissolve INA and go underground and formulated his next move. He could well foresee that USSR was parting its path from that of the Allied forces and cold war was going to begin. So,having UK as a contender, the Soviet Union could help Netaji to fight for India's freedom. So,after a suitable interval of time in Saigon,he proceeded to North Eastern part of Russia via Manchuria and landed up in the Gulag. After passing some time in the Gulag,he could win the confidence of the Soviet High Command and was advised to maintain inertness and silence for the time being, waiting for a suitable time to decide further course of action. Soon thereafter the British Colonialists left India bifurcated and as two Independent Nations India and Pakistan. The reasons for quick withdrawal of the British from the scene has already been discussed. Netaji was highly disappointed by the fact that his dream Motherland was divided into two. He was always of the opinion that an Independent united India could be a glorious country and a lead the world both in economic and spiritual fields. He couldn't sit idle in the USSR and with the nod of the Soviet High command,relocated to the barren land between Siberia and Manchuria where he had access to the Chinese Communist leader Mao Tze Tung and quickly made friends with him. Being a great strategist he acted as advisor to both Mao and Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam in fighting against their respective enemies Chiang Kai Shek's Nationalist China and the US army that continued with the imperialist agenda of the French in Indochina. Thus,having won the confidence of Chairman Mao,he could travel back and forth to and from India traversing a rugged terrain of Chinese,Tibetan and Nepalese territories across the Himalayas. A map of the above route was retrieved from the house of an ascetic in Faizabad of UP later. This ascetic is still believed to be incognito Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose by many Indians and some journalists and researchers abroad. But we will come back to that in details after we discuss a little more what is learnt about the great leader during the period between his disappearance in Saigon and reappearance of the supposedly religious figure in certain areas of India. There had been reports that the first two Indian Ambassadors to USSR Ms Vijay Lakshmi Pandit and Mr Radha Krishnan had hinted about revelation of some sensational news which they finally never could because Ms Pandit was withdrawn from USSR and posted to the US and Mr Radha Krishnan was promoted to become India's Vice President. Experienced journalists,diplomats and Netaji enthusiasts had always believed that the sensational news was about the Leader in USSR. This information conform with what has been stated earlier about Netaji's presence in USSR and China. It is believed that during this gap of ten years the leader's whereabouts are not very well known or documented. But it is understood that Netaji was desperate to come back to his Motherland but it seems that he was not interested in exposing himself. If we believe that it really was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose,we can understand that he was promise bound to remain incognito. There are reports that he kept good relationship with the Communist leadership of both USSR,China and even Vietnam,though he personally did not have any faith in Communism. He helped Chinese and Vietnamese leaderships to formulate their strategies. The Communist countries,though a part of the Allied Forces in WW2 were already engaged against the Capitalist world and cold war was already setting in. So,they decided not to prosecute the Axis leader S C Bose as Netaji was a fierce anti colonial freedom loving Nationalist leader. To them Netaji, by then,was becoming a friend being enemy's enemy. If we put together all the pieces of information,we can understand and correlate Netaji Subhash was alive and that by around 1955 an ascetic appeared in the northern areas of Uttar Pradesh. This supposedly religious figure wanted to remain away from any attention and kept on changing places remaining in the same geographical region near the Nepal border. He was accompanied by a Nepalese mother and son duo of Saraswati and Rajkumar Shukla. They were his guides and companions and were instructed by Saraswati's father Mahadev Mishra,a Nepalese Sadhu to keep company with our point of attention,the Sadhu Bhagawanji. There are many reasons to believe that this Bhagawanji was actually Netaji Subhash. Bhagawanji was changing his location quite often and was reported to live in Neemsar,Lucknow,Basti,Ayodhya and Faizabad areas of Uttar Pradesh. The first few years of his stay in the area passed in utter hardship. The three of them did not have enough to eat and no proper place to stay. But slowly contact was established with his die hard supporters and a team of his erstwhile political associates,mostly from Bengal who started visiting him and kept his presence a secret as per his instructions. But all his material needs were fulfilled by this team. The team was spearheaded by one of his closest aides in the then eastern Bengal,a renowned woman leader Leela Nag(Roy) and her husband Anil Roy. During about the same period there was another Sadhu of Shoulmari who resembled Netaji and rumours spread that he was in reality Subhash Chandra Bose in disguise. Even the Government of India was keen to find out what is what and Nehru sent his emissary to enquire. The Sadhu himself denied that he was Netaji. Rather he was found out to be a revolutionary Anushilan Samity member who went into hiding as a Sadhu to save himself from British intelligence and preferred that life and never wanted to return to regular day to day life. Going back to Bhagawanji in UP the case is similar. After his contact was established with his former comrades ,the names that we come across who used to visit him or keep in touch with him include among others: Leela Roy,Former INA Intelligence Officer Pabitra Mohan Roy,Trailokya Chakraborty Maharaj,Atul Sen, Surajit Dasgupta,Swami Aseemananda,Samar Guha,historian R C Majumder and Netaji's friend Dilip Kumar Roy. In the words of Bhagawanji (who is coined as Netaji by many people till date) he had no intention to come out of seclusion into public life any more. He,in his own words to his confidante followers who had audiences with him,was a Mrito Bhoot(dead ghost). He sometimes said that he was declared dead and does not exist in papers.
He has fought fiercely for India's freedom and was partially successful. Finally it came in 1947 which also in the opinion of many(even historian like Prof R C Majumder) was partially due to the Nationalistic enthusiasm instilled in the minds of Indians by Netaji and INA. Manifestation of same was evident in the mass upsurge and protest during INA trials in the Red Fort,Bombay Naval Mutiny and dissatisfaction and disobedience in British India. Netaji's dream was Akhand Bharat and he was very upset and heartbroken with the partition of his Motherland due to petty power mongering of his former colleagues in Indian politics. The power politics brought untold sufferings,loss of life,properties,chastity of women to millions on both the sides(Pakistan and India)which hurt him most. One of the famous uttering of Bhagawanji was: " Indian politics - ugh,it stinks."Though he was not interested to come out of his self imposed hidden life,he used to keep track of all the current affairs of the world and occasionally made comments about future shape of world politics. His comments reflected his deep farsightedness. He foretold about the dissolution of Communism,Bangladesh Liberation,China's growth as a super power,India's resurgence as a leader in the world spiritually and economically, disintegration of Pakistan and so on. As we have found later,many of his opinions have proved to be right. During his so presumed ascetic life as Bhagawanji,he was a firm follower of Maa Durga and Kali but did not work for spreading Hinduism or any religious thoughts. He did not want to meet many people and very few could get to have direct audience with him. He used to talk to people from behind a curtain. Every year during Durga Puja and on 23rd January he used to spend time with selected few who visited him from Bengal. We may infer that he used to celebrate these days with his former comrades. With them he shared his ideas about past, present and future India but kept his mouth shut with strangers who at times got permission to meet him from across a curtain. During this period several articles were published in Jayasree,edited and published by Leela Nag and which served the cause of Indian Freedom struggle since long. Some articles also came out in Northern Indian Patrika,a publication of Amritabazar Patrika group,Naye Log and Ganga. In those areas of UP words of mouth spread about him as being Netaji in disguise. Almost everyone in the area started to believe that Netaji did not die in any plane crash and he has escaped to Russia via Manchuria. Authorities in Delhi were not unaware either. Netaji Bhawan,his Calcutta residence was under surveillance of IB and it is reported that Bhagawanji's Uttar Pradesh shelters were also under lens of Indian intelligence. It was also reported that Delhi emissaries on a few occasion came to ascertain the ascetic's motives. Meantime during Bhagawanji's 30 years of life spent in UP two enquiries (Shahnawaz Committee and Justice Khosla Comission)were carried out being constituted by the Congress Government to ascertain the fate of the INA leader. Before India's Independence, during their penultimate years of colonial rule,the British Indian government also carried out an enquiry as almost nobody in India (specially in Bengal) was buying the idea of Netaji's death in Taihoku plane crash. The conclusions of all the enquiries were identical. All three confirmed Netaji's death in the plane crash. Interestingly,no picture of his dead body,cremation or third degree burns from the crash as reported,are available. There is no death certificate on record. It is reported that after cremation the ashes and mortal remains of the leader was carried in a container to Tokyo and is preserved there at Renkozi temple. Japan has offered to the Indian Government that the remains be carried back to India. But it has not been done.
Coming back to Bhagawanji's story,he was moving his place of abode from place to place in the Lucknow/Faizabad//Ayodhya/ Basti areas and finally spent the last three years of his life in a rented premise of five small rooms in the premises of Ram Bhawan, Faizabad.
The writer had a desire to know more about the controversy over Netaji's death,having read so many contradictory stories. Last month while planning a trip to places of interest in Bihar and UP, I included Faizabad in the itinerary. This was also influenced by a recent discussion on Netaji and his disappearance that we had with our nephew Avishek.
I did establish some contact with a few important persons of Faizabad civil society through my Rotary Club contacts. They assured me that they know the owners of Ram Bhawan very well and will be able to arrange a meeting for me with them and arrangements for me and my spouse will also be made to visit their house where Bhagawanji used to live. My plan was to stay in the area for 4 nights/5days and to cover some places of interest around (Lucknow,Kushinagar,Gorakhpur,Ayodhya,Shravasti and Faizabad). Meantime,I thought I could pursue the visit to Ram Bhawan and the meeting with the owners. I did not think it would be as easy as my contacts in Faizabad assured. So,on reaching Faizabad/Ayodhya I started my sight seeing and kept in constant touch with my Rotary friends. The present owners of the house are the duo of Shakti Singh and Ratan Singh,two brothers. It was their father who ushered in Bhagawanji to live at their place in 1982. By then Bhagawanji had acquired the name Gumnami Baba because of his characteristic manner of seclusion and keeping away from public eyes. Gumnami Baba had five small rooms at his disposal behind the main building Ram Bhawan. Mr Shakti Singh is a political figure and his younger brother Ratan Singh looks after their family business. Though on the first evening Mr Shakti Singh promised to meet us soon,the time was not forthcoming. I kept reminding my friends to fix up the appointment. But Mr Shakti Singh was elusive. He was delaying the meet citing reasons of more important things to attend to. My suspicion was proving to be true. On the 4th day,even my contacts lost all hopes. We thought that he might have become cautious because of the fact that I was a foreigner. They had to face so many Government enquiries and interviews by media like,India Today,Zee News, Times of India, Blitz, Indian Express and others after the death of Bhagawanji that they may have become tired of it now. My friends thought Mr Shakti might have taken me as a journalist from Bangladesh who would grill him for hours together. My friends told me to forget the idea of the meeting. They showed me the building Ram Bhawan from outside. I was a little bit frustrated but still did not abandon the idea. I took Mr Shakti Singh's cell number from my friends and called him directly in the 4th evening of my stay. I had only one more day in hand. I was to leave Faizabad late next evening. Mr Shakti took my call. He sounded very polite. The Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh was to visit Faizabad the next day and Shakti had to be with him the whole day until he leaves,he said. Still he would try to make a window to give me some time. You can well understand my despair. Sensing this type of situation,I completed all my sight seeing during the first four days and kept the Faizabad ones for the fifth day.
On the last day of my stay there I kept on calling Mr Shakti at regular intervals and visited places of interest in Faizabad. The most important place to me was Guptar Ghat where Lord Rama is said to have taken Jal samadhi(disappearance in the waters of holy Sarayu river). There is an ancient Rama-Sita-Lakshman temple close to the ghat. Very close to the ghat there was an ordinary looking structure resembling a grave or simple tomb. There is a plaque fixed to it which reads Gumnami Baba was cremated just at that site(though it was not any regular cremation ground). The plaque had the name of Mr Shakti Singh inscribed as the person who had arranged the cremation and construction of the tomb. After that we embarked on seeing other places of interest like gardens and monuments erected by the Oudh Nawabs. Faizabad was their capital before it was shifted to Lucknow. My incessant trials finally yielded some result. It was about 3pm. We had to leave at midnight. After sightseeing we were taking some rest and I was also losing hope and started thinking about the meeting that we had fixed with friends that evening,our last event before leaving Faizabad. I thought of giving it a last try and called Mr Shakti again. Deputy CM was still there and Shakti was still with him. But in a low voice he told me to proceed to their house. He will instruct his younger brother Ratan to show and explain us everything. Luck favoured us at last. We got ready in no time and in 15 minutes we were at Ram Bhawan. Ratan recieved us in their cozy visitor's room. We had a long discussion over coffee and snacks. What we learnt from him may be summarised as under:1. Gumnami Baba or Bhagawanji was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose without any doubt. He and his family were convinced about this. They have a large photo frame in their visitor's room having two pictures side by side. One is Netaji's and the other is Gumnami Baba's. Both have striking resemblance. He mentioned that almost everyone in Faizabad and neighborhood who had any idea about the Baba's presence in that area also held the same opinion. 2 Since the Leader did not want to expose himself in front of public eye and preferred seclusion,the public honoured that. Still,there were many reports in the media every now and then and rumours were in the air all pointing to the same fact.3 Since the enquiries (one by the British and two by the Government of India during the lifetime of Bhagawanji and two more after his death in 1985) could not establish the fact everyone understood the Government's intentions and preferred not to make much noise on the issue.4 He was only a kid during Gumnami Baba's last three years of life in their house but his brother Shakti Singhji was an young adult and a direct deciple of Netaji.5 As an acceptance of the fact that Gumnami Baba was Netaji himself, Shakti Singh has constructed the tomb at Guptar Ghat and they still maintain a statue of Netaji in their lawn.6 38 boxes of Gumnami Baba's belongings(other sources put the figure differently,mostly 26) were taken into custody of the District Administration and is still lying in the district Malkhana(administrative storage). Those include many articles which proves that the two individuals were the same. Allahabad high court has issued orders to keep those as exhibits in a museum. 7 Though he was with the identity of an ascetic,he used to take fish. He smoked 555 cigarettes and spoke Hindi in a heavily influenced Bengali accent.
After a satisfying discussion,he arranged for us to visit the 5 small rooms at the back of their present homestead Ram Bhawan. Though Ram Bhawan is a modern house,renovated for their comfortable living the backyard portion was left as before. Only it has been cleaned and painted regularly since 1985. We, of course,felt very fortunate to have that privilege and had a unique feeling while in that premise. They allowed us to take pictures freely. Done with the tour of the backyard house where Bhagawanji (Gumnami Baba)( Netaji?)once lived,we parted with Ratanji after thanking him profusely.
Now I would like to draw the attention of my readers to some additional information so that they can ponder over the issue further: 1The first three member Shahnawaz Committee of enquiry concluded that Netaji died in the Taihoku plane crash. But a member of the committee (Netaji's own brother) did not sign the report. He submitted a dissenting opinion. Which means,the Leader's family had reasons to believe that he is alive. Moreover,there were no overwhelming evidence infront of the committee. Otherwise he couldn't have dissented.
2 Justice Khosla headed a one member Commission.It has also ruled that Netaji died in the said plane crash. Justice Khosla never visited Taihoku(Taipei). He depended heavily on deposition of witnesses. They could have been biased.
3 Justice Mukherjee Commission visited Taipei and found no evidence of any plane crash on the said day. This Commission was set when opinions in India once again swayed in favour of Netaji being Gumnami Baba after the death of the Sadhu. The Commission opined that it did not have enough evidence to prove that the Baba was Netaji.
4 Justice Mukherjee himself went to Taiwan to verify the truth about the plane crash. He found out that there was no plane crash on that day at Taihoku. So,he commented that Netaji did not perish in the said plane crash.
The Government did not accept the Mukherjee Commission report.
5 A few years ago the Akhilesh Yadhav Government of UP constituted another Commission of Justice Vishnu Sahai to investigate again the mystery centering around the death of Netaji. Since Mukherjee Commission report was dumped and people of India were so fascinated with Netaji's nationalistic Heroism that the issue had to be resolved. Sahai Commission report concluded that Gumnami Baba was not Netaji. He could be a deciple of the monumental figure.
6 A DNA test of 5 teeth found from Gumnami Baba's possessions(and thought to be his) were carried out in Forensic laboratories of Calcutta and Hyderabad under the order of Justice Mukherjee. The results were inconclusive. Indian Government never was interested in any DNA test of the ashes preserved in Renkoji temple of Japan. Japan always wanted India to take back the ashes. Indian authorities did not decide in favour of bringing in the ashes as it could not gauze the possible repercussions of Subhash loyalists.
7 A copy of the dissenting report of Netaji's brother Suren Bose,a member of the Shahnawaz Committee was found amongst Bhagawanji's belongings. There was a hand written note on the report. Lalita Bose, Netaji's niece visited Ram Bhawan soon after the death of Gumnami Baba on 16 September,1985(he was reportedly cremated on 18th September) when speculations were rampant in the media that the Baba was really Netaji. Lalita Bose identified the handwriting on the note to be her mother's. She also identified certain other articles from belongings of the Baba as her uncle Subhash's.
8 Mukherjee Commission asked for handwriting experts opinion on the matching between Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Bhagawanji. Most of the renowned experts opinions was that the two matched. Of course,there were a few who differed in their opinion.
9 There were reports that Justice Mukherjee was caught off guard in a private conversation where he mentioned that he was sure that Bhagawanji was actually Subhash Chandra Bose.
10 Amongst Bhagawanji's possession there were a lot of INA materials and also a map sketching the rugged route from Russian Siberia to Indian Uttar Pradesh via China,Tibet,the Himalayas and Nepal. I could put forward many more points but for our understanding the above will suffice.
Famed journalists Adheer Som,Anuj Dhar and Chandrachud Ghosh have researched and written extensively on the matter specially after the death of Gumnami Baba.
There is a unsupported report that only 13 men attended the cremation of Gumnami Baba at Guptar Ghat. One of them was reported to mutter that there could be 13 lacs of people in attendance instead of 13 to cremate this great man.
The confusion still persists. If Bhagawanji was really Netaji,he could have decided to return to India as he wanted to follow his Motherland's developments and pass his last days in India that he treated as his Mother. As to why he kept silent and secluded,we may infer that his name was in the list of War criminals. As he was an arch rival of the British,they could ask for his trial. Indian Congress leadership was his arch rivals since the mid thirties of the twentieth century. They could never be interested in his resurgence in public and in politics.
Analysing all above that has been dealt with in details readers may make their own inferences.
The present Indian Government is giving spectacular importance to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. His birthday,the 23 January has been declared as Parakram Diwas. A huge statue of Netaji has been put in place where a statue of Emperor King George the fifth once stood. It is near India gate on Rajpath which has also been renamed as Kartavya path. Let's see what other steps this Government takes to resolve the confusion. We have to keep in mind that the Indian Government is yet to declassify some of the files which could throw more light on the issue.