The Russian connection | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 16, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

The Russian connection

The Russian connection

“… As the things stand today, not to enquire about Netaji's fate in Russia will be a blunder of national magnitude with far reaching consequence. Posterity will never forgive us for such a criminal negligence in the affairs of a national hero of the highest order.”

The above paragraph is extracted from the 1965 book “Netaji Mystery” by Dr Satyanarayan Sinha, now deceased lawmaker and diplomat, who had played a pivotal role in creating awareness about resolving the controversy surrounding Netaji's disappearance.

On October 17, 1970, Sinha, then in his 60s, was summoned before the Khosla Commission formed by Indira Gandhi to probe Netaji's disappearance. Under oath, he told the commission that Netaji did not die in the plane crash and was imprisoned by the Soviets in Yakutsk Prison in Siberia. 

Several camps were erected in Yakutsk by the river Lena to lodge prisoners of war and political dissidents. They were employed in building new shafts for coal mines, roads, dams etc. Each camp, known as Gulag, had 500 to 1,000 captives living with minimum facilities.

Very few could survive the harsh weather and primitive living conditions in this coldest city on earth. One of the lucky ones was Kozlov, a former Soviet secret police agent rehabilitated later by the Soviet government.

Sinha testified that in 1954, he met Kozlov in Moscow. The former agent told him that Netaji was imprisoned in cell number 45 of Yakutsk Prison in Siberia. The commission had received this overwhelming evidence but ultimately decided to ignore it.

Sinha was not the only one to believe this version.  

Purabi Roy, a professor of Calcutta University and prominent Indian academician, found out a report written by a KGB agent in 1946 about the political situation in India.  The report said, "…. it is not possible to work with Nehru or Gandhi, we have to use Subhas Bose”. That implies in 1946 Bose was still alive.

Purabi Roy was sent as part of Asiatic Society's three-member team to the Oriental Institute, Moscow to study Indian documents from 1917-1947.  Her findings were: There are a lot of materials on Subhas bose in the Military Archive in Omsk, where the Free Government of India in Exile (or Azad Hind Government) had a consulate during the Second world War. Just a request from the Government of India would be sufficient for the Russian authority to open that archive. Prof Purabi Roy wrote to New Delhi about it and as a result her research was terminated by the Indian government and she could not go back to Russia again.

Very recently, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy claimed that Netaji did not die in a plane crash in 1945 but was killed at the instance of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

"According to the papers that exist with us, Bose had faked his death and escaped to Manchuria in China which was under Russian occupation, hoping Russia would look after him. But Stalin put him in a jail in Siberia. Somewhere around 1953, he hanged or suffocated Bose to death," said Swamy.

Swamy also claimed that the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was aware about Bose being held captive in Yakutsk Prison.


Sources: The New Indian Express, Times of India,, Russia & India Report

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