Monday, September 21, 2015

Declassify Bose files, fumigate the folklore and end the meaningless mystery surrounding his death

There is nothing much to speculate about the British snooping on Bose before his bold escapade from his home in Kolkata in 1941. But the British intelligence sources, along with the Americans, seemed to have followed the Bose tracks even after the war and up till 1949, the year of the Chinese civil war between the communists and the nationalists, and the communist takeover of mainland China in October 1949. The Anglo-American sleuths in West Asia were on the prowl and let out the speculative bit of information that Bose could be in the company of the Red revolutionaries like Mao Zedong and Yugoslavia’s Marshal Tito. It appears to be an idle cue because nothing substantial emerged later on. The British and the Americans seemed to have been motivated by their anti-communist paranoia where they spied a Red behind every bush.
But the real rub of the Bose files story lies somewhere else. Why did the Indian and West Bengal governments spy on members of the Bose family after Independence and why did it continue for 20 years? When the people of the country idolised the revolutionary Bose and his military exploits through the Indian National Army (INA), why did the ruling party, the Indian National Congress, under Jawaharlal Nehru, and then under Indira Gandhi, allow for the police to shadow Bose family? This is the simple question that the Congress would be forced to answer. Bose had left Congress and formed the Forward Bloc soon after he resigned as president of the Congress in 1938. His elder brother Sarat Bose then took over Forward Bloc. What was the motive for the liberal and charismatic Nehru to adopt a Stalinist tactic against a fellow-charismatic leader like Bose?
There is a need to probe in detail as to who had ordered the spying on the Bose family, and who was the highest authority in Kolkata and in New Delhi, who looked at these reports. The files themselves must provide the clue. If they do not, then there is the need to go further afield and unearth the workings of the West Bengal and central government intelligence bureaus. There is of course the realpolitik compulsion of every government to spy on all those in the opposition, and it would be na├»ve to believe that the government’s spies are not doing their job against the politicians of all parties even today. The declassification of the Bose files puts the Congress squarely in the dock.
The dark concerns of those in government regarding the declassification o official documents in a phased and orderly manner are another tale of folly in Indian democracy. Members of the BJP-led NDA government are still speaking officialese when they say that declassification of the Bose papers might have an adverse impact on friendly relations with foreign countries. It is nothing but baloney. Bose did have an international profile, and he interacted with people in power in the Soviet Union, Germany, Japan after his escape from Kolkata. All that could emerge perhaps will be details of his meetings with the leaders in these countries as narrated by the British spies, which could be far from the real facts. This can be inferred from the fact of the rumour that they floated that he was being trained in Russia to take over India when the Red moment arrived. This is Cold War nonsense. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should take a clue from Mamata Banerjee and throw open the Bose papers. It is the best way of fumigating the folklore that has surrounded Bose after his death.

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