Shedding light on the mystery around Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’ disappearance, a new book suggests that an archival photo of a secretive holy man who died in Faizabad in 1985 could have been that of Bose, living a disguised life.
Anuj Dhar’s book "India's Biggest Cover-up" shows a Bose-like man standing with the Vietnamese delegation in Paris during truce talks with the US. Surprisingly, the holy man "Bhagwanji", also known as "Gumnami Baba", had told his followers that he was present during the talks, says the book. The rare black and white photo shows the delegation led by their Nobel laureate leader Le Duc Tho at the first open session of the negotiations with an American delegation. Clearly resembling Bose with his overall contour, a bearded man with an intense look is standing alongside journalists and others behind the delegation. "Much of his face is covered with moustache, beard and big-framed glasses. It is unusual for diplomats and southeast Asians to keep beards like this," Dhar writes in the book.
The Mukherjee Commission, which had probed into his disappearance, and his resemblance to the holy man, had rejected the idea that he died in a plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945. Even Suresh Bose, a brother of Netaji and a member of the Inquiry Committee, had before his death in 1972 that his brother was alive at the time.
The author, who spoke to the holy man’s followers, learnt that the "baba" not only took interest in make-up but also altered his facial features to avoid attention when he went out. The "baba", identified by many Bose aides of unquestionable integrity, spoke of his escape to the USSR, participation in the Vietnam war and blamed circumstances for his hiding in public interest.
He said that his emergence could lead to India's facing sanctions from world powers, claims the book. He was last seen at the Bangkok Airport on 17th August 1945. Since then, none of his whereabouts has been confirmed.
The book is based on records made public by the US, British and Indian authorities and several documents that were kept secret over 65 years after the incident.