As the circumstances surrounding the death of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose remains shrouded in mystery, official documents declassified by the government say the revolutionary leader was a victim of an aircrash on August 18, 1945.
Bose, whose birth centenary is on Wednesday, was sitting next to the petrol tank of a K-21 heavy bomber aircraft when it lost control and crashed, according to documents made public by the Union Home Ministry following a Right to Information application.
The contents of 91 documents have been put in the public domain while the home ministry has declined to do so in respect of over 100 documents.
The report of Counter Intelligence Corps, who questioned Bose's close aide Habib ur Rahman, said that the plane carrying Netaji after its take off from Taihoku (Taipei) in Formosa (Taiwan), could not gain much altitude, when he had heard a terrific explosion leaving the plane "vibrating violently."
Rahman told the investigators that the plane in which he was accompanying Bose, lost its control and went into flames after it took-off from Taihoku in the afternoon of August 18, 1945.
"The seat Bose occupied in the aircraft was beside a petrol tank at the time of the crash the tank exploded, spreading the burning fuel on Bose's clothing," the Counter Intelligence Corps said in a report dated September 29, 1945.
The declassified report was revealed to a Delhi based organisation 'Mission Netaji', which had invoked its Right to Information to get from the home ministry documents relating to Netaji's mysterious death.
In the report, it was stated that after the aircrash, Bose was lying by the plane when Rahman went and removed Netaji's clothes that were left burning as a result of the explosion.
Even though Bose had suffered burn injuries apart from injuries to his head and neck, he "recovered sufficiently" to carry on a conversation thereafter, Rahman, deputy chief of staff in the Indian National Army told investigators.
Apart from Rahman's interview report, classified documents on related diplomatic correspondence, telegrams sent from External Affairs Ministry to the Prime Minister's Office and selected letters of former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru were also revealed.
The disclosure comes in wake of the Central Information Commission's order directing disclosure of exhibited documents relied on by Shah Nawaz Khan Committee (1956) and Justice G D Khosla Commission (1970-74).
In his RTI plea, Sayantan Dasgupta of Mission Netaji, cited 202 exhibits considered by the two inquiry panels and sought a disclosure of the same.
He sought the documents to find out as to what were the documentary evidences that were considered by the two panels in declaring Bose a victim of an aircrash in 1945.
Notably, these two inquiry reports were divergent to the findings of the recent Justice Mukherjee Commission, that had contradicted their findings.
In its order of July 5, 2007, the CIC termed as "facile hypothesis" the Centre's decision to deny the documents on ground that it could lead to a "possible unrest" in Netaji's home state of West Bengal.
It, however, gave home ministry the liberty to examine and analyse specific documents.