Amal Chatterjee
15 min readFeb 24, 2024

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Netaji Bose

Source : Google photo of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Synopsis: There is no person as important as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in the history of Indian struggle for its independence from the British. Although the whole world remained ignorant of the sacrifice he made to free India from bondage due to the suppression of his life from the history books by the people who ruled India since 1947, he stood tall as the national hero who fought the British tooth and nail to make them leave in 1947. The blog highlights Netaji Bose’s role in the armed struggle for the Independence but also unveils the real story of a hero who returned to India to serve the country and to prove that he did not die in a plane crash in Taipei in 1945 .

Today I want to write about the word netaji, what it means and why it is important in the context of the changes taking place in India today.

To understand who was Netaji and why the country venerates him and his contribution to free the nation from the bondage the British imposed on it to rule it for over two hundred years. Today I will try to explain why Subhash Chandra Bose was called Netaji and why there has been to other person who could take his place in the history of the struggle for India’s freedom.

Why Netaji Bose was sidelined by the people who sought power to rule the independent India and why he was not given the honor and recognition he richly deserved by those who were afraid of him who brought independence to India through his armed struggle.

They were afraid that their fake narrative of Gandhi and Nehru would be exposed and their public support would vanish if the truth about Netaji came out so they erased his story from the pages of history. His photo was not placed in the Parliament , his books were banned, his statues were not placed in prominent places anywhere, his sacrifice to make India free was not recognized by the ruling party headed by an autocrat who was chosen by the departing British to serve their interest even after independence.

So Netaji remained an enigma to most people because his memory was suppressed by the people in power for 70 years but Netaji remained in the hearts of millions of countrymen and women. The lies about Netaji was repeated so many times that the younger generation born after independence became apathetic and some believed the lies until the wheel of time turned.

To go back in the history pages where one could find little about Netaji was pointless so one has to find other sources of information about him that are plentiful . There are many people who have dedicated their life long efforts to unveil the forced secrecy on the life of a national hero who was ignored and sidelined by those who claimed all the credit of the freedom movement.

I will not write about who was Netaji and what he did to gain the national prominence as the leader ( Netaji ) because there are hundreds of books written about him, many movies made about him and thousands of documents in the public domain that anyone can read to know more about him.

But I do want to write about what I knew from my personal experience in Vietnam where I used to work as a volunteer agronomist from 1967 to 1969.

I went to Vietnam at a time when there was a war going on between the Vietnamese and the Americans so I experienced the horror of war many times personally and came nearly to grief more than once. To read more about my experience there please read my chapter three on Vietnam called The war torn Vietnam , 1967 to 1969 here.

Role of Netaji in the Vietnam war :

Most Americans and those who supported the war favoring USA do not know until now who indeed was Netaji and what role he had played in the war because the Netaji Bose was unknown to them.

But one person who knew him well and followed his advice was no other than Ho Chi Minh himself who asked his help to make his country free. Americans never knew who was Netaji but General Giap knew. Netaji was the military and political advisor of Ho Chi Minh and General Giap.

Source : Google photo of Netaji Bose arriving in Saigon sometime in 1944 or 1945

One night I was in Saigon where I was attending a seminar on rice research and stayed at a dormitory where other attendees were staying. When I went out at midnight to take a walk and to get some fresh air, I lost my way back to the dorm and approached an American MP who was guarding a military post. I asked him where this place was but received no answer. I then realized that he was on drugs and was completely stoned out. He had a gun in his hand that anyone could have taken it from his hand or shoot him so I was really shocked.

I wandered around some more until I found the street eventually but I came to know that all kinds of drugs were freely available to the American and Vietnamese soldiers during the war thanks to the Vietnamese generals who were bringing in drugs from the Golden triangle using their personal aircrafts. A great quantity of this drug ended up in the United States when the dead bodies of soldiers shipped to the States were used to conceal the drugs in their abdomen thus giving rise to the name Orient Express. Everybody involved in the drug trade became rich at the expense of the soldiers who died there.

But no American ever knew that it was Netaji who had advised Ho Chi Minh that drugs could demoralize enough the Americans to fight the war so one day they would leave. The 60000 dead and more injured soldiers had already led to massive anti war protests in the USA and around the world. The rest is history.

Netaji was a military advisor who taught the Vietnamese how to fight a guerilla war and shared his own experience in Burma where his army ( Indian National Army) had fought against the British and won many battles.

Source : Google photo of Netaji Bose in the Paris peace talk. He is in the far right with glasses.

He was also present during the signing of the peace treaty between Vietnam and the United States in Paris in 1972 but remained in the background.

He helped the Dalai Lama and his other monks escape from Tibet and safely brought them to India when Tibet came under the occupation of China through difficult mountain passes. Dalai Lama and his monks have lived in the northern mountain shelters known as Dharmashala ever since.

Source : Google photo of Netaji Bose in Tashkent with Pm Lal Bahadur Shashtri .

We see Netaji again in Tashkent when the Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and his counterparts from Pakistan met there to sign the Peace treaty in 1965. In a group photo taken of Shastri, Kosygin and others in Tashkent , Netaji was clearly shown. That photo was analyzed by the experts to declare that he was Netaji .

Lal Bahadur Shastri was murdered by someone using poison but Mr. Shastri had called his wife before his death and told her that he had met someone very important and was going to give the country the good news when he arrived. It is not known whether he was going to bring this extraordinary person with him in his aircraft. The murder of Lal Bahadur Shashtri is another story. The movie called The Tashkent files might be worth your interest in this subject.

From these incidents, we see that Netaji was politically active since the end of the 2nd World War in 1945 so the narrative that he had died in a plane crash in Taipei was not true. The Indian government always pushed the narrative although there was no evidence that Netaji died in a plane crash. Infact later enquiries on this subject found no record of a plane crash in Taipei on the day Netaji was supposed to have died.

Later it was found that Netaji was not even in Taipei that day when his plane was supposed to land in there on its way to Tokyo. His plane was rerouted to Manchuria by his Japanese pilot so the narrative of Taipei plane crash was just a diversionary tactic probably used by Netaji himself to get off the radar of the Americans and the British who were looking for him.

Source : Google photo of Netaji Bose in Moscow

From Manchuria Netaji goes to Moscow where Stalin gave him sanctuary and protection because Stalin hated Nehru who wanted to hand over Netaji to the British as a war criminal if he ever returned to India.

Stalin also recognized the independent India when Netaji won the Andaman Islands where he raised the National flag for the first time . There were 13 other countries that recognized new India 1943 that allowed India to open embassies there.

There are many people in Moscow who had met Netaji there so the Indian government knew that Netaji was alive and well in Russia but continued to push the narrative that he had died in the Taipei plane crash.

It also continued to use the secret police to keep an eye on the Bose family in Kolkata for over 25 years and read all the letters between Bose and his family. They did this to know the whereabouts of Netaji Bose.

Source : Google photo of Netaji Bose in the funeral of Nehru in 1964

Nehru died in 1963 when I was still in college. One day someone showed me a black and white photograph taken during the funeral of Nehru where someone who looked like Netaji was seen in the photograph. This created quite a stir on campus that excited us to no end.

I have seen Nehru during his rallies for election and went to listen to him a few times when he made bombastic speeches but I like many others did not see the villain that he was because of the government propaganda. He became the enemy of Netaji when he realized that he could not hold a candle to him.

I have once seen Nehru face to face when one day he arrived at our college in a white convertible car with two policemen on motorbike as escort. The car stopped in front of us near the admin building and we were surprised to see Nehru come down.

We were also surprised when he said Am I here to greet you or you are here to greet me? I then rushed to call the principal who was fixing his tie so the poor fellow came out in a hurry but Mr. Nehru was arrogant and in a bad mood because he was expecting a large number of people waiting for him and greet him with flower garlands.

Nehru was an autocrat as a prime minister and took many wrong decisions during his tenure that caused India a lot of harm. He gave the veto power to China when India was one of the founding fathers to establish the UN .This mistake has and continues to cause many problems for India that the country suffers from.

I never felt any emotion when Nehru died because I did not respect him as a human being but I felt great emotion when I heard that Lal Bahadur Shashtri died in Tashkent under mysterious circumstances. He came to our college and we sat around him asking questions and he smiled and answered them all. His humility and sweet nature won our heart in stark contrast to Nehru. I saw both of them from very near. It was no wonder that Netaji was in Tashkent with Shastri. Only a patriot like Netaji could appreciate another patriot who would give his life for his country.

The country loved Netaji and he would have been the Prime Minister of Free India and not Nehru. It was Nehru who had signed a secret pact with the British that Netaji will be handed over to them to face trial as a war criminal if Netaji ever returned to India.7

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose returns to India

Source : Google photo of Gumnami Baba in the right and Netaji Bose in left. Note strong resemblance in Baba with Netaji Bose.

He was also called Bhagawan ji by his close associates but he forbade them to reveal who he was so they called him the unknown saint.

It is not known when Netaji Bose returned to India but it was assumed that he arrived in Nepal from Russia and entered India from there. It is also not known where he lived and for how long before he chose Ayodhya to spend the last few years of his life. People say that he lived in Basti for a while .

Then one day in 1982, an unknown saint ( called Bhagwanji or Gumnami Baba ) appeared in a small town called Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh. He lived in isolation and only received very few visitors who were allowed to talk to him through a curtain. No one saw his face except the caretaker who cooked his meals and one or two people who had access to him. Many came to meet with him secretly during the night including Indira Gandhi and the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Sampurna Nand.

He was an unknown saint, so why so many important people wanted to meet him ? Indira Gandhi knew that Netaji was alive so perhaps she wanted to verify if indeed the unknown saint was Netaji.

Among his other visitors were his comrades in the Indian National Army who had acted as his adjutants, officers and one who was his chief of the intelligence bureau of INA.

Others were his doctors who attended to his health. Slowly the news started to appear in some newspapers that the unknown saint aka Gumnami Baba was the Netaji himself who for unknown reasons decided to remain unknown.

Please read my blog called The Unknown saint here that I wrote sometime ago and a blog called My heroes : Subhash Chandra Bose to learn more about Netaji.

Then sometime in 1985 the unknown saint died of heart attack and was secretly cremated near the river in Faizabad but his dead body was covered with a sheet and face was also covered.

During his stay in Faizabad, people close to him asked him why while he remained behind curtain and why he did not come out to tell the whole nation that he had returned.

He said that he had his own reasons. When pressed for more anwswers, he said that it was not in the interest of the country that he should come out because it may cause great social disturbances among the people. His antagonists were many in power who may clash in the streets with those who love him therefore he preferred to remain in the background.

It disappointed the whole nation because he was their hero who brought them independence. He was the father of the nation.

Netaji Bose was finally given the honor he deserved.

Source : Source Google photo of the grand statue of Netaji Bose in New Delhi inaugurated by PM Modi

In 2014 the government changed and the BJP Prime Minister Modi was elected who not only gave the honor to Netaji that the previous governments of Nehru and Gandhis denied, he got Netaji’s statue installed in Delhi at the most prominent place near the India gate. He also set up a museum in the Red Fort in Delhi where the entire history of Netaji and his freedom struggle movement is shown with photos and numerous documents. The old soldiers of the INA were recognized during the January 26 parade in Delhi although many had died.

Why Netaji chose to live in Faizabad that is now part of Ayodhya? It was because he knew that India had to re establish its stolen faith by erecting a temple for Ram that will reignite the 130 million Hindus faith .It will allow to rebuild India based on the principle of Ram meaning equality for all, justice for all and development of the country to provide a better life for all. Ram did not say that only Hindus should benefit if they followed his principles . He said it was and has to be inclusive of all people who live in new Bharat ( India) irrespective of caste, creed and religions. This is what Netaji also wanted so it was Netaji who in a secret meeting in Balia told to start the movement to bring Ram back and set him up in a glorious new temple. It will bring back the faith in Ram and the country will follow Ram’s principles.

This movement cost a lot of lives but eventually it succeeded when the Supreme Court gave a decision and allowed the construction of a new Ram Temple in Ayodhya that was inaugurated on January 22, 2024. Read my blog here called The day the river ran red.

Some people say Netaji did not die because there is no proof that he died in Faizabad. The body that was cremated was completely covered so no one saw the face.

But the fact remains that he would have been over 110 years old if he was still living so most people just assume that he is dead.

What happened after the death of Netaji Bose in Faizabad?

People found more than 26 steel trunks in his room and demanded to see what they contained so that they could know who was this mysterious man but the Allahabad High Court had ordered the trunks to be safeguarded under lock and key but later gave the permission to open them in order to make a detailed inventory and list all the items in the presence of videographers and many lawyers. What they found surprised the whole country.

One trunk contained a binocular made in Germany as well as a typewriter also German made, reading glasses , smoking pipes , a Rolex watch, numerous photos of Netaji’s relatives, his parents, his school and college mates, compass, a map of Nepal , many hand written letters to his family in Kolkata and friends etc. to prove that he was the real Netaji. In other trunks they found numerous documents related to the INA and his letters to his subordinates and their responses. There were numerous newspaper cuttings that had published some news about him .

But the clinching proof came when a reporter took his hand written letters written long ago and his latest hand written notes to a famous hand writing expert in the United States who after very thorough examination concluded that the two sets of hand written notes came from the same person.

The DNA samples that were collected from Gumnami Baba and sent to a testing lab in India to compare with the DNA of his living relatives was to prove that the mysterious saint was Netaji but the results were kept hidden for 6 months . When released, other DNA experts noted that the data were tampered with because proper procedures were not followed. The lab technician could not be contacted because he was afraid to tell the truth . Who gave the order to tamper with the DNA samples, no one will admit. Obviously the tampering order must have come from somewhere to cast doubts on the real identity of the saint in Faizabad but people are unfazed.

They now believe beyond any doubt that Netaji had returned and lived anonymously in Faizabad because what was found in his 26 steel trunks could have only belonged to him like his glasses, his pipe, his watch, his binoculars and numerous family photos plus numerous hand written documents and lots of books in many languages. Netaji spoke good German and many other languages.

Gumnami Baba most likely died in Faizabad but what is important now is that the country is guided in the direction Netaji wanted and outlined where people will prosper through massive development and job opportunities, where people will live in peace and get the justice if they are wronged. It was the dream of Netaji to make a new India where people of all faiths will live together in harmony and work together to make a better country. Such heroes never die because they live in the hearts of 1.30 billion grateful Indians .

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Amal Chatterjee

I am the village bard who loves to share his stories.