How and why Jawaharlal Nehru spied on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, in 14 points
Nehru spied on Subhas Chandra Bose. This revelation by India Today magazine, from the recently declassified ‘Netaji files’ placed by the Union Home Ministry in the National Archives, has sent the political class and the social media into a tizzy.
We bring you 14 facts in the revelations on how and why Nehru spied on ‘Netaji’ Subhas Chandra Bose.
1. For 20 years, from 1948 to 1968, the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) under Nehru were snooping on Netaji’s family.
2. Each and every letter to, or from, Netaji’s family living in Kolkata’s Elgin Road was intercepted, read, copied and filed.
3. IB operators also followed and tailed Netaji’s family members as they traveled in India and abroad, meticulously recording their every meeting, every conversation.
4. The major part of the surveillance was aimed at Netaji’s nephews Sisir Kumar Bose, Amiya Nath Bose; and on his German wife Emilie Schenkl who stayed in Vienna.
5. This tailing and surveillance was so through and meticulous that the India Today was forced to call the surveillance “exactly as it would be today on a wanted terrorist’s family — rigorous, methodical yet unobtrusive”.
6. The motivation for the Nehru government’s intense tailing of the Netaji family has been laid at the doorstep of political strategy.
7. The perception is that those decades when the surveillance was carried out, no one was certain of Netaji’s death, as many conspiracy theories were afloat (one of the enduring political mysteries of India), and if there was a consolidation behind Netaji’s name (even memory) it was political threat for the Congress.
8. This concern is borne out by a ‘Top Secret’ note from 1968 on Amiya Bose, Netaji’s nephew, which India Today quotes: “The subject is now reportedly taking keen initiative in the formation of the Azad Hind Dal with ex-INA men. It is reported that he has succeeded in influencing some prominent persons both in the state and the Centre.”
9. Nehru’s concerns regarding Amiya Bose’s activities are also evidenced in a note he wrote to the then foreign secretary Subimal Dutt in 1957, asking him to keep a tab on Amiya Bose’s activities while the latter was a on a visit to Japan.
10. Netaji was the president of the Indian National Congress in 1939 but was forced to resign following his differences with Mahatma Gandhi on the tactics and strategies to be employed in the freedom struggle against the British. He then escaped abroad and established the Indian National Army (INA), and sought the assistance of Britain’s enemies Germany, Italy and Japan to throw the British out of India in a violent struggle.
11. However, Netaji and Nehru, contrary to myth, respected each other. Netaji even named a regiment of the INA after Nehru. Nehru publicly wept when news of Netaji’s death came in 1945.
12. Hindustan Times quotes Anuj Dhar, the author of “India’s Biggest Cover-Up” on Netaji’s disappearance, to report that the declassification of the Netaji archives evidently happened because of a goof up by the government. “These files were declassified by mistake. When there is a large-scale declassification of files, some files come out by mistake,” Dhar says.
13. The Netaji files have been one of India’s closely guarded secrets. Umpteen attempts under the RTI to declassify the files have been thwarted by successive governments on the plea of ‘damaging relations with friendly countries’.
14. The revelations are sure to be politically incendiary, with parties in Bengal opposed to the Congress are sure to go on the rampage on the issue. The fierce debate on social media has already begun.
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