Subhas Chandra Bose’s death has been a much-speculated affair, with multiple conspiracy theories surrounding the incident. Did he die in a plane crash, did he escape to Russia? These are questions that have been going around for decades. To find the answers, Indian government appointed three commissions over the years. The Shah Nawaz Committee (1956) and Khosla Commission (1970) said that Bose died in an aircrash on August 18, 1945 at Taihoku airport in Japanese-occupied Taipei, while the Mukherjee Commission (1999) concluded that he did not die in an air-crash. Although the government rejected the findings of the Mukherjee Commission, the scholars could not be stopped from dwelling deeper into this mystery.
A controversial figure in life and even more in his death, Netaji’s demise was investigated by multiple people and agencies and most recently by Paris-based historian J B P More. He came across a brief French secret service reported dated December 11, 1947 at the National Archives of France. He has found that Bose didn’t die in an air crash and was still alive in 1947.
“It is not stated in the document that Subhas Chandra Bose died in the air crash in Taiwan. Instead, it is reported that Bose’s present whereabouts were unknown as late as December 1947, which again implies that the French did not buy the theory that Bose died in the air-crash on August 18, 1945,” said More, a professor at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Economiques et Commerciales, Paris.
According to the French secret service’s reports as realised by More, Bose did not die in the air crash on August 18, 1945, as commonly held. More said, while quoting the report written for the ‘Haut Commisariat de France for Indochina’- SDECE -Indochinese Base – BCRI – No. 4128/3 cs/ah – Ex No. 6/16, under the title: ‘Archival Information on Subhas Chandra Bose’ that, “He escaped from Indochina alive and his whereabouts were unknown as late as December 11, 1947, as reported in the secret document. This implies that he was alive somewhere but not dead in 1947.”
“In this report, it is clearly stated that he was the ex-chief of the Indian Independence League and a member of Hikari Kikan, a Japanese organisation. It is further stated clearly that he escaped from Indochina, though it does not state how,” he added.
Although the British and the Japanese declared that Bose died in an air crash after he took off from Saigon on his way to Tokyo. However, the French Government has always remained silent on this issue, even though Vietnam/Indochina was a French colony during the 1940s. This gives More’s findings more weightage. “Very quickly after the Japanese debacle and surrender on 15th August 1945, the French arrived in Saigon, along with British troops and took charge of Saigon. But unfortunately they left no direct accounts of Bose’s death in the air crash. They had never endorsed the theory that Bose died in the crash,” said More.