On 18th August 1945 it was reported that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was seriously injured and badly burned in a plane crash in Taihoku airport, Taiwan and is believed to have passed away in a nearby Japanese military hospital.
Subhas Chandra Bose, fondly known as Netaji, was an important Indian Nationalist leader who fought for Indian Independence from the British during the years following World War II, taking help from the Axis Powers (nations which fought the Second World War against the Allied Forces).
Subhas Chandra Bose was born on 23rd January 1897 in Cuttack (then part of the Bengal Presidency) to Janakinath Bose and Prabhavati Devi. Bose graduated from the University of Kolkata in 1919 and left for England to appear for the Indian Civil Service Exam (ICS). He cleared the exam but soon resigned from his job in the Civil Services and came back to India, since he did not want to work under the British. Back in India, Bose took responsibility of the publicity of the Bengal Provincial and in 1923, he was elected as the President of the All India Youth Congress and also as the Secretary of the Bengal State Congress. In 1925 along with the arrest of several other nationalists, Bose was arrested too and was sent to prison in Mandalay.
After being released from Prison in 1927, Bose became General Secretary of the Congress party and worked for Independence along with Jawaharlal Nehru. Bose was soon arrested again for Civil Disobedience and by the time he was released from prison he became Mayor of Kolkata in 1930. In the 1930’s Bose travelled to Europe where he met Indian students and European politicians like Benito Mussolini and observed communism and fascism in action. He had received recognition as a national leader and accepted nomination as Congress President, by end of 1928.
Bose supported Swaraj (self-governance) and also the use of force against the British. Mahatma Gandhi who was a follower and propagator of non-violence did not agree with Bose’s philosophy, which led to a confrontation, since Gandhi opposed Bose as a President. Gandhi eventually advised Bose to form his own cabinet. This disagreement between Bose and Gandhi also led to tension between Bose and Nehru. Yet, in 1939, Bose was elected as Congress President again. However due to the mass support Gandhi enjoyed in the Congress, Bose was soon forced to resign from his presidency.
In 1939 Bose formed the Forward Bloc. During the Second World War in 1939, Bose initiated a mass movement under which he started uniting people from all over the country. Since there was a massive response to his call, Bose was immediately arrested by the British. While in prison, Bose refused to accept food and water for two weeks and with his health condition worsening and fearing an outrage from across the country, Bose was put under house arrest.
While under house arrest, Bose planned his escape. Bose grew a beard and escaped his house dressed as a Pathan so that the British could not identify him. On the night of January 19th 1941 Bose escaped first to Bihar and then to Peshawar (now in Pakistan). Finally Bose reached Germany, via Kabul, Moscow and Rome where he met Hitler. In 1943, Bose left for South East Asia to raise an army to fight for freedom against the British, the army was called the Indian National Army (INA).
While in England, Bose met leaders from the British Labour Party, including Clement Attlee who also served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951. Bose also met Harold Laski, British political theorist and Sir Stafford Cripps, a British Labour politician, with whom he discussed the future of India. Eventually, it was with the Labour Party in power and Attlee as Prime Minister that Indian gained freedom from British rule.
There is a cloud of controversy regarding the death of Subhas Chandra Bose. It is alleged that Bose died in a plane crash in Tiapei in Taiwan on 18th August 1945 while on his way to Tokyo and then the Soviet Union. The Japanese aircraft Bose was travelling in had a technical problem in its engine and it crashed, following which Bose suffered severe burns and died in a nearby Japanese hospital after a few hours. It is believed that his body was cremated and his ashes were interred in at the Rekonji Temple in Tokyo, though there is a dispute if the ashes interred in the temple are indeed his. The absence of Bose’s body has given rise to many theories that it was possible that he may have survived the crash. Several committees were set up by the Government of India to look into this matter. Even though no concrete evidence with regard to Bose’s death has emerged yet, a portrait of Bose is present in the Indian Parliament and a statue of him has been erected outside the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. Bose has also been described as “Patriot of Patriots” by Mahatma Gandhi.
Also on This Day:
1800: Fort William College was established at Kolkata by Lord Wellesley.
1872: Pandit Vishnu Digambar, a blind musical revolutionary of Maharashtra was born.
1900: Indian diplomat and politician, Vijaylakshmi Pandit was born.
1951: The Indian Institute of Technology was opened in Kharagpur.