Late Dr. Satyanarayan Sinha Parliamentarian and Minister in the Nehru Cabinet was also a member of Bihar Vidhan Sabha from 1926 to 1930
Tags: Bihar angle, Netaji Mystery, Nehru, Satyanarayan Sinha, Goga. Abani Mukherjee, Siberia cell, Khosla Commission, Justice Mukherjee Commission, Shah Nawaz Committee
Former Indian ambassador Dr Satyanarayana Sinha once met Goga, the son of Abani Mukherjee, a revolutionist in the Russian communist party; who told him that his father and Netaji were prisoners in adjacent cells in Siberia. He also told Sinha that Netaji had assumed the name ‘Khilsai Malang’ there.
The most shocking of all information it contained was that Netaji had posted a letter from Russia to Nehru, telling that he wished to come back and he also asked Nehru to make amendments for his come back!
You may confirm this from the parliamentary records from 3rd August 1977; and the files published by the British government.
Netaji’s was detained in a VIP Camp- in Cell No. 45-46 of Irkutsk Gulag near Baikul Lake and Ural Mountains. Indian Revolutionary Abani Mukherjee was kept in Cell No. 53 in the same camp.
Ref: (i) Confirmation by Shri Goga (son of Shri Abani Mukherjee) to Dr. Satyanarayan Sinha (former Indian Ambassador to Russia)
Dr. Satyanarayan Sinha’s deposition before the Khosla Commission disclosed that Netaji was imprisoned in cell number 45 of Yakutsk Prison in Siberia, where over half a million slave labourers perished; Yakutsk is the coldest city on earth. But mysteriously, the committee decided not to probe Sinha’s testimony. Very few prisoners in Yakutsk survived the brutal conditions, but a former NKVD agent, Kozlov, who was rehabilitated later by the Soviet government, told Sinha about meeting Bose in Siberia. Sinha had an adventurous career, serving in the Russian Army in 1932 as an interpreter; he even fought in the battle of 1935-36 on the side of the Italians in Ethiopia before he became an aide to Nehru.
Harpal Singh sharing the article from the newspaper New India Express Link presented following facts:
On October 17, 1970, Sinha, then in his 60s, was summoned before the Khosla Commission constituted by Indira. The files running into hundreds of pages reveal that Sinha had a trove of information regarding Netaji. He told the commission that Netaji did not die in the plane crash and was imprisoned by the Soviets in Siberia. This was Sinha’s first appearance before the commission and under oath, he testified that in 1954, he met Kozlov in Moscow, who told him that Netaji was lodged in Yakutsk Prison. It appears from the proceedings that the commission had received overwhelming evidence from Sinha but ultimately decided to ignore them.
Excerpts from the proceedings regarding the meeting between Kuzlov and Subhas Chandra Bose:
Khosla Commission: I want you to be more specific about this information which you received. Who gave you the information and what were the exact words used by him as far as you can remember?
Sinha: Kuzlov was the name of the man who was connected with the training of Indians till 1934. The same man was later treated by Stalin as a Trotskyist and sent to Yakutsk prison. From there, after the war, he had come back. I met him in Moscow. He said that he had seen Bose in Cell No. 45 in Yakutsk.
Commission: Did he name Bose or did he say some important Indian?
Sinha: He knew Bose. He had been a Soviet agent in India in 30s. He had met Bose in Calcutta and he knew his residence.
DID NEHRU KNOW BOSE WAS ALIVE?
Sinha, who was elected to the first Lok Sabha in 1952 from Bihar, made scathing observations in Parliament indicating a cover-up in the Netaji probe at the top levels in the Indian government. Born in 1910 in Bihar, Sinha had been tasked by Nehru to report on the political situation in Europe in 1947. Sinha told the commission that he got the funds from Nehru’s personal account in The National Herald and it was through Nehru confidant Rafi Ahmed Kidwai that he received money for his travel and investigations. In this capacity as an informal secret agent, he travelled to Germany, Italy, France and Yugoslavia before joining the Indian Foreign Service in 1950 and served as First Secretary in the Indian legation in Berne, Switzerland. Sinha told the Khosla Commission that he had gathered further evidence from Russian spies that Bose was living in captivity in Russia, which he had already informed Nehru in 1950. Sinha began probing into Netaji’s disappearance in 1949. In 1950 in Leipzig, Germany, he had met Karl Leonhard, a former Abwehr spy who had served time in Siberia, after Germany lost the war in USSR. Leonhard reportedly told Sinha: “I have come to know that your leader Bose is also a prisoner.”
Sinha deposed that in a meeting with Nehru on April 13, 1950, he had given the prime minister the new information, but Nehru was disinterested. Though initially relations between USSR and India were cool after 1947, Stalin, who had refused to meet the Indian Ambassador to Moscow Vijayalakshmi Pandit, gave an audience to Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who was then the Indian envoy. Stalin also offered a treaty of friendship between both countries. The USSR then supported India on the Kashmir issue. Nehru visited Soviet Union in 1955 and in return Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Defence Minister Nikolai Bulganin visited India in 1956. Meanwhile, Indo-US relations had cooled and the USSR stepped in with technological and economical aid. On the 1962 India-China war, the USSR blamed China as responsible for the war. India started buying Soviet arms in 1963 on a large scale when Nehru was PM.
Khosla Commission: Did you meet him (Nehru) in Delhi or elsewhere?
Sinha: In Delhi.
Commission: You went to see him and told him that a Russian had given you this information?
Sinha: Yes, that is on 13th April, 1950.
Commission: What did Pandit Nehru say to that?
Sinha: He said that he would check up the matter. But he said, “I think, this is American propaganda.”
Commission: After that, did you take any further steps to enquire into the matter?
Sinha: I did. Another talk on this subject which I had with Pandit Nehru was on 16th January 1951 in Paris where there was the ambassadors’ meeting.
Sinha also claimed that he had raised the issue with Radhakrishnan, who warned him that any further probe in the matter may harm his (Sinha’s) career. Sinha had worked as interpreter to Radhakrishnan while the latter was serving in Geneva. They had met on the sidelines of the ambassadors’ conference in 1951 in Paris. “He (Radhakrishnan) warned me that I should not meddle in these things. I asked him why. Then he said ‘you will be spoiling your career, you will not be anywhere’.”
Sinha told the Khosla Commission that he was making the charges “with full responsibility to prove them before the commission and before the wide world.” Sinha also said that he did not believe that the government wanted matters regarding Bose to come out in the public domain. He said, “Nehru was a very very strong man. When Khrushchev came, I was acting as an interpreter. I asked him ‘Will you in your next visit bring Netaji with you? Then Russia and India will become best of friends.’”
Sinha had also told the commission that Chinese officials had told him that Nehru was the only person who could repatriate Netaji.
In 2006, the Justice Mukherjee Commission report concluded that Netaji did not die in the plane crash at Taihoku airport and the ashes in the Japanese temple are not his, and that in the absence of any clinching evidence a positive answer cannot be given. Former Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramchandran in a written reply on May 7, 2013, told Parliament that “the Government of India did not agree with the finding of Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry (JMCI) that Netaji did not die in the plane crash. The government of India based on the reports of Shah Nawaz Committee and Justice Khosla Commission constituted on the question of the alleged death/disappearance of Bose came to the conclusion that Netaji died in the plane crash on August 18, 1945.”
However, Sinha had accessed classified Soviet documents from Berlin that concerned Netaji’s death but was stopped by the government. Later he asked the Khosla Commission whether he could quote at least three lines from the documents, but it appears from the proceedings that the commission was not interested in listening to what Soviet intelligence documents had to say about Netaji and the topic was changed. In 1963, Sinha went to Taipei to probe into Netaji’s death. He took hundreds of photographs of the alleged crash site and runway, making at least 30 sorties. He also submitted five photographs to the Khosla Commission marking the Taihoku runway. He made the sensational disclosure that the earlier photographs shown to the public featuring the crash site could be fakes because any photograph showing the crash site should have the Keelung River in the frame which was missing. But the commission again changed the topic instead of probing the new photos.
“The conclusion which I immediately came to was that if the runway was south of Keelung River, east-west and in the photographs, if the contour of the hills come, any photographs of the wreckage taken must show the Keelung River in between. There is no way out for taking any photograph without it,” Sinha had told the commission.
Probe not given secret files
In 1956, the Shah Nawaz Committee refused to consider the document “Allied secret report No. 10/Misc/INA”. The document says, “Gandhi stated publicly at the beginning of January that he believed that Bose was alive and in hiding, ascribing it to an inner voice. Congressmen believe that Gandhi’s inner voice is secret information, which he had received. This is however a secret report, which says Nehru received a letter from Bose saying he was in Russia and that he wanted to escape to India. The information alleges that Gandhi and Sarat Bose are among those who are aware of this.”
Interestingly, the contents of the letter were omitted from Shah Nawaz Committee report. The committee did not find it necessary either to visit the alleged crash site in Taihoku to make further probes that suggested that Netaji was alive.
The File No. JMCI/ Russia/ UO Papers/ 2001 revealed that the Mukherjee Commission tried to get in touch with Sinha’s family members to find out if he had left any diary or notes pertaining to his depositions. It appears that the commission was surprised at the omission of Sinha’s finding in the Khosla Commission report.
Even in 2000, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had claimed privilege and told the commission that the “documents are kept secret for ensuring the proper functioning of the public service.” The PMO affidavit said: “These are unpublished official records, the disclosure of which would cause injury to the public service.”
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