LONDON: The latest set of witness statements released by a UK-based website set up to unravel the mystery surrounding Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s death seem to confirm that the freedom fighter died as a result of a plane crash in Taiwan.
Five witnesses, which include Netaji’s close associate, two Japanese doctors, an interpreter and a Taiwanese nurse, have been quoted as corroborating that the founder of the Indian National Army (INA) died on 18 August 1945 following a plane crash on the outskirts of an airfield in Taipei.
Colonel Habibur Rehman Khan, Netaji’s aide-de-camp (ADC) who was with him on the fateful day and survived the crash, submitted a statement written and signed on 24 August 1945 -six days after the crash confirming Bose’s last words to him.
“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’,” the statement reads.
In September 1945, two intelligence teams from India led by police officers named Finney and Davis, assisted by H K Roy and KP De, went to Bangkok, Saigon and Taipei to investigate. They concluded Netaji had died as a result of the air tragedy.
They 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 Netaji’s “Provisional Government of Free India”.
Using the code “T” for the INA leader, 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 interrogated six Japanese officials in Tokyo in connection with the incident, including Japanese doctor Toyoshi Tsuruta, who was present at the Nanmon Military Hospital near the crash site where Bose was rushed to after the crash.
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.”
Tsan Pi Sha, a nurse at the same hospital, confirmed this account in in September 1946 to Harin Shah, a journalist with Mumbai’s ‘Free Press Journal’, who visited Taipei to investigate the matter.