Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review: India's Biggest Cover-up, by Anuj Dhar

A profile image two inches-by-two in a school textbook. Round-face. Round-rimmed spectacles. Khakhi garrison cap. Looking into the far distance. That is the image our minds invoke on hearing the name Subhas Chandra Bose. An ICS officer in the His Majesty's British Empire turned revolutionary. Twice the president of the grand old party of India - the Indian National Congress. The founder of the Forward Bloc. The civilian who became a general. The first leader of the Azad Hind Government, in exile. The man who promised us freedom and asked us to pledge our blood for the cause. The man who raised an army to march against the British Indian Empire. Axis partner and war criminal, for the victorious WWII Allies. Simply, the most selfless patriot of modern India.

Yet Netaji’s life was largely a mystery. A mystery that began with his escaping from British custody in 1941 and compounded by his disappearance during the final days of the Japanese surrender during WWII. The government of India led by Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru bought the Japanese version of Netaji's death in a Taiwan air crash and adopted that as the establishment's version. Successive governments and two commissions of enquiry toed the Nehru line. 

Anuj Dhar in this brilliantly pieced together masterpiece of investigative journalism convincingly blasts the "air crash theory" to smithereens in the first 20 pages and goes on to strengthen his case by following other credible leads on Netaji's escape via Manchuria to Stanlinist Soviet Russia, his possible return to India and life as "Bhagwanji" in Faizabad, UP (until his death in September 1985), the Government's confiscation and sealing of Bhagwanji's personal effects, their reluctance to release at least 33 classified Netaji files, and their collusion with Netaji's "aides-gone-rogue" (Shah Nawaz Khan, Munga Ramamurthy, SA Iyer et al) to perpetuate the death of a man who cheated it. 

Anuj backs-up all his statements and conclusions with images of de-classified documents obtained via the Right to Information (RTI) Act of India, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of USA and UK, and documents obtained from other countries (such as Japan and Russia).

For lovers of our history and Netaji, this book is a must-read and an eye-opener. Buy it, read it, speak about it to others. That’s the best respect we can pay to India’s greatest patriot.

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