New Delhi, (The Telegraph): A claim about a claim that Jawaharlal Nehru had referred to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as a "war criminal" in a letter triggered a fresh political war today, with the Congress accusing the Narendra Modi government of using "fabricated" documents to malign Independent India's first Prime Minister.
Nehru at the Bose residence after the death of Netaji’s elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose in 1950
Pradip Bose, a nephew of the freedom fighter, had on April 20, 1998, written a 10-page note to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee detailing what he said were "mysteries" surrounding his uncle's death.
That note - among documents on Netaji that Modi declassified today - claimed that one of Nehru's stenographers, Shyam Lal Jain, had told the Justice G.D. Khosla Commission of inquiry set up by the Indira Gandhi government in the early 1970s that the former Prime Minister had instructed him to make "four copies of a letter".
Jain, according to Pradip Bose, told the commission about the contents of the letter - addressed to then British Prime Minister Clement Attlee and dated December 26 or 27, 1945 - "as far as I (Jain) could remember".
"I understand from a reliable source that Subhas Chandra Bose, your war criminal, has been allowed to enter Russian territory by Stalin," Pradip Bose quotes Jain telling the Khosla panel. "This is clear treachery and a betrayal of faith by the Russians. As Russia has been an ally of the British-Americans, it should not have been done. Please take note of it and do what you consider proper and fit."
Such a letter, if sent by Nehru to Attlee, would suggest that the former Indian Prime Minister was effectively tipping his British counterpart off about the location of Netaji.
But the final Khosla report makes no mention of any such letter, or even a deposition by Jain, a scan of the commission's final document by The Telegraph shows.
Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma accused Modi of trying to "deflect" attention from his government's "miserable failures" on all fronts. "We are not affected by this but we at the same time appeal to the media to be careful before a fabricated and forged document is used to sensationalise and to defame one of India's greatest sons, Jawaharlal Nehru," Sharma said. "Forgery is a criminal offence.... That shall not be taken quietly."
Sharma didn't commit when asked if the Congress would file a case against the alleged forgery.
He also said the Congress did not wish to engage in a debate with "distant relatives" of Netaji, and cited statements by the freedom fighter's daughter Anita Pfaff and great-nephew Sugata Bose to counter allegations that his party had "suppressed" the truth. "We have always said all the files should be declassified," Sharma said. "It is unfortunate that a selective campaign is being run with political motives."
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was effusive in her tribute to Netaji today, his birth anniversary, calling him one of India's "greatest sons".
"The nation as indeed the Congress party can never forget his contribution to the national struggle for freedom for founding of an independent democratic republic of India," Sonia said.
Photo credit: The Telegraph
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