Subhas Chandra Bose defied Mahatma Gandhi, met Adolf Hitler, and raised an army to force the British out of India. Yet despite promises by India's new prime minister to open the archives, Bose's fate remains a mystery.
NEW DELHI — To the British he was a traitor who joined hands with Adolf Hitler. To the German Nazis he was an enemy of an enemy, hence a friend. To Indians he was a nationalist political leader and freedom hero who trained an army to oust the British colonial rulers from South Asia.
But the eventual fate of Subhas Chandra Bose, who collaborated with Germany and Japan against the British in World War II, remains a mystery and a subject of continuous debate in India to this day – partly because 39 files on him are hidden away in government archives.
Some believe that Mr. Bose died in a plane crash in Taiwan shortly after the Japanese surrender in August 1945. Others say he came back to India as a Hindu monk or that he was locked up in solitary confinement in Siberia. An official government probe in 2006 concluded that Bose did not die in a plane crash and that his supposed ashes in Tokyo, often visited by Indian leaders on trips to Japan, are not his.
During national elections last spring, Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticized the previous administration for not disclosing the documents related to Bose’s death. If their party was elected, BJP officials vowed, they would declassify the Bose material.