Remembering Netaji’s Air Crash Death 72 Years After

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose with other INA commanders in exile government. (Photo courtesy: Subhas Chandra Bose Facebook Page)

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose with other INA commanders in exile government. (Photo courtesy: Subhas Chandra Bose Facebook Page)

It was on this day, August 18, 1945 almost 72 years ago that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose died in a plane crash in Taihoku, present day Taipei and buried there wish his ashes flown to Japan where they are reposed in Rankoji temple.

On the fateful day in the afternoon of 18 August 1945, Netaji met with a plane crash on the outskirts of a military airfield in Taipei and was rushed with third degree burns to nearby Nanmon Military Hospital by his  aide-de-camp (ADC) Colonel Habibur Rehman Khan.

The medical officer Captain Taneyoshi Yoshimi of the Japanese Army and another Japanese doctor Toyoshi Tsuruta and a Taiwanese nurse by the name of Tsan Pi Sha were the key witnesses to his death in the hospital at around 8 PM and there was Yoshikazu Nakamura, an interpreter at the hospital testified to the incident.

Colonel Habibur Rehman, who survived the crash, lived in Pakistan and came to testify to the 1956 Netaji Inquiry Committee headed by Major General Shah Nawaz Khan. He submitted a copy of a statement written and signed on 24 August 1945 or six days after the crash.

It said: “Prior to his death he (Bose) told me that his end was near and asked me to convey a message from him to our countrymen to the following effect: ‘I have fought to the last for India’s independence and now am giving my life in the same attempt. Countrymen! Continue the independence fight. Before long India will be free. Long Live Azad Hind (Free India).’”

The British intelligence probe later confirmed the plane crash theory beyond doubt after interviewing or interrogating other passengers in the military plane. netaji2

In September 1946, Harin Shah, a journalist with Mumbai’s Free Press Journal, visited Taipei and investigated  the accident and the consequent demise of Bose. In his interview with Tsan Pi Sha, the nurse who attended on Netaji when he breathed his last said: “He died here. I was by his side….. He died on 18 August last year (1945), (Subhas) Chandra Bose.”

She added: “I am a surgical nurse and took care of him till he died…..I was instructed to apply olive oil all over his body and that I did.” She further continued: “Whenever he regained briefly his consciousness, he felt thirsty. With slight groaning, he would ask for water. I gave him water several times.”

She, then, took Shah to the south-west corner of the ward and to the bed where Bose passed away. Wanting to be doubly certain, Shah asked: “So you definitely know that he is dead?” She replied, according to Shah, with a tone of rebuke: “Yes, he died. I have told everything about it. I can prove that he died.”

Dr Yoshimi finally told Ashis Ray of in 1995: When it became obvious to Dr Yoshimi that Bose’s condition was sinking, he asked Bose: “What can I do for you?”

Bose replied: “I feel as if blood is rushing to my head. I would like to sleep a while.” Dr Yoshimi gave him an injection. After some time Netaji was no more.

Present Controversy

However, Bose family members often refused to accept the plane crash theory and to conduct DNA testing. The controversy spanned over 70 years and the saga of vested interests surpassing the reality has become a bone of contention.

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