Death in Faizabad – Justice Manoj Kumar Mukherjee Commission: Interrogation

4.15 The story relating to death of Netaji in Faizabad originates from the statements (supported by affidavits) filed by Dr. Alokesh Bagchi of Gorakhpur, Shri Ashok Tandon, Shri Shakti Singh and Shri Kailash Nath Jaiswal of Faizabad in response to the statutory Notification issued by this Commission. The common case that has been made out by them in their statements is that after the death of Stalin in March, 1953 Netaji escaped from the then Soviet Russia and after coming to India lived at different places in Uttar Pradesh and lastly at \\’Rambhawan\\’ in Faizabad. The detailed particulars of those places and duration of his stay there have been incorporated in their statements. Their further claim is that in September, 1985 he left `Rambhawan\\’ for an unknown destination, leaving behind a large number of household articles including his family photos, books, letters and other documents in that house; and the custody of the same was taken by the District Magistrate of Faizabad and kept in the treasury there, following an inventory prepared in terms of the direction given in Writ Petition No. 929 of 1986 filed by his (Netaji\\’s) niece Lalita Bose and two others.

4.15.1 To work out the information furnished through those statements and ascertain the truth thereof the Commission visited Faizabad and inspected all the articles kept in the treasury. On thorough scrutiny of more than 2,600 items lying there the Commission felt that about 700 of them might be relevant for its purpose and accordingly brought them to its office in Kolkata. As some of those letters were sent by different persons from Kolkata, the Commission examined some of them. In view of the claim made by a few of the witnesses examined that the writings in some books and journals found in Rambhawan were those of Netaji, they were sent for examination by handwriting experts. Besides, some teeth found there were sent for DNA test to ascertain whether belonged to Netaji\\’s lineage.

4 15.2 In asserting their claim that Netaji lived at various places in the State of Uttar Pradesh as an ascetic holy man under two different names, viz. Gumnami Baba and Bhagwanji, 31 persons have deposed before this Commission. While according to some of them he died at \\’Rambhawan\\’ in Faizabad on September 16, 1985 where he last resided, a few others claimed that he had left Faizabad in that month. Of the deponents, the evidence of the following has to be left out of consideration altogether, as it is either hearsay or based on belief without any substantial material in formation thereof : Dr. Alokesh Bagchi (CW. 17) Shri Viswabandhu Tewari (CW 18), Shri I. B. S3xena (CW 19), Dr. Ramendra Pal (CW. 58) and Shri Kailash Nath Jaiswal (CW 60).

The next sets of persons coming under the above category are three journalists: Shri Ashok Tandon (CW. 33), Dr. Viswambharnath Arora (CW 63) and Sayed Kauser Hussain (CW. 64) as their claim is based on the result of their investigation into the mystery surrounding Gumnami Baba as also the several articles they wrote in their respective newspapers, magazines and books, relying upon the statements made before them by several persons (some of whom have been examined by this Commission).

Then comes another group of persons whose evidence on this issue cannot be entertained as they admitted that they had not seen Gumnami Baba. These witnesses are Shri Gur Basant Singh (CW. 39), Shri Shakti Singh (CW. 42), Shri Nirupam Misra (CW. 59), Shri Rabindra Nath Shukla (CW. 61) , Prof. Nandalal Chakrabarti (CW. 95) and Shri Dulal Nandy (CW.107).

Another set of witnesses to whose evidence reference has to be made only to be rejected comprises those who have not seen Netaji before August, 1945 but claimed that one \\’Mauni Baba\\’ who was also known as Sant Samrat Yogi and who used to live in an Ashram in the district of Sitapur was Netaji. In support of their- claim two of them produced few photographs of Mauni Baba – a bare glance of which shows that they have no resemblance whatsoever with Netaji. The witnesses who fall under this category are Shri Raghuraj Singh Rathore (CW. 20), Baba Bhandari @ Shew Bhagwan (CW.35) and Shri Shyam Narayan Bind (CW. 57). Besides, Col. A.B.Singh (CW. 41), who was formerly with INA and knew Netaji since his INA days, testified that on February 19, 1996 he went to Sitapur and saw Mauni Baba. According to him, he was impressed as Mauni Baba\\’s appearance was similar to that of Netaji. Since it has been found that the photographs of Mauni Baba have no similarity whatsoever with Netaji, the evidence of this witness also cannot be entertained.

4.15.3 Following the exclusion of the evidence of the above witnesses for the reasons aforesaid, the evidence of the remaining witnesses on this issue may now be detailed and discussed.

4.15.4 Dr. P Banerjee (CW 37), who was a resident of Faizabad , stated that in the year 1974/1975 he along with his parents had gone to the residence of a saint at Brahmakund in Ayodhya, as he was given to understand by his father that he was none other than Netaji. Initially, he and his family members were not allowed to see the saint as he used to sit behind a curtain. However, their persuasion yielded result in that the saint talked to them face to face. Their such interaction prompted his parents to say that the saint was none other than Netaji. Since, however, he himself did not assert that the saint was Netaji his evidence in this regard is nothing but hearsay. The other two members of his family who deposed before this Commission were his wife Sm. Rita Banerjee (CW. 65) and his mother-in-law Sm. Bithi Chatterjee (CW 71). Both of them averred that they had seen `Gumnami Baba\\’ on several occasions while he was living in Brahmakund during 1975-76, but as the former based her claim on her belief only and the latter stated that though she had seen Netaji in Lucknow in or about the year 1943 she found it difficult to say whether Gumnami Baba was Netaji – their evidence does not assist the Commission in answering this issue.

The next witness on this point is Shri Raj Kumar Shukla (CW 38) whose mother Smt. Saraswati Devi Shukla was the attendant of Bhagwanji (she could not be examined by this Commission as she had already expired) . According to this witness, his mother came in contact with Bhagwanji in 1955-1956 at Singarnagar, Lucknow and she cited with him till his death on September 16,1985 at Ram Bhavan, Faizabad. His evidence discloses that while living with his mother at the places where Bhagwanji resided till his death he saw quite a number of persons of Kolkata visiting Bhagwanji. In detailing their names he gave out that Smt.Lecla Roy, Prof. Samar Guha, Dr.Pabitra Mohan Roy and Shri Amal Roy used to come on January 23 (Netaji\\’s birthday) and during the Durga Puja festival almost every year. His evidence further indicates that the visitors were allowed to talk to Bhagwanji from behind a curtain. As regards the identity of Bhagwanji his evidence is that he heard from his mother that he was Netaji and since then he shared the same belief. Though his evidence does not in any way prove that Bhagwanji was Netaji, it at least proves that quite a number of eminent persons from Kolkata used to visit Bhagwanji.

4.15.5 Next comes some of those people of Kolkata who used to frequently go and meet Bhagwanji/Gumnami Baba wherever he lived during the period from 1963-1983. The first witness in this category is Shri Sunil Krishna Gupta (CW 91). His evidence is that in or about 1963 Shri Suresh Bose (elder brother of Netaji) told him that Netaji was reportedly staying in Naimisharanya in the district of Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh. On getting that news he went to Naimisharanya and met a Sadhu in a temple there. To interact with the Sadhu he stayed there for ten days. Since then he used to go and meet him wherever he resided almost every year on January 23 and during Durga Puja . He addressed that Sadhu as Bhagwanji. According to him, the other frequent visitors were Dr. R.P. Misra, Dr. Pabitra Mohan Roy, who was attached to the secret service of INA, Shri Shiba Prosad Nag and others. He admitted that he had not seen Netaji before August 18, 1945, but averred that after seeing and interacting with Bhagwanji he was convinced that he was none other than Netaji. He next stated that at the instance of Bhagwanji he went to Taihoku to watch the proceedings of Khosla Commission and on return apprised him of all the details thereof. He lastly stated that he maintained a diary in which he recorded the resume of his talks with Bhagwanji.

The other witnesses who fall in this category are: Shri Surajit Dasgupta (CW 94), Shri Jagatjit Dasgupta (CW 96), Shri Tarun Kumar Mukhopadhyay (CW 97) and Shri Bijoy Kumar Nag (CW 98). They also admitted that they had not seen Netaji before August 1945 but asserted that frequent meetings with Bhagwanji led them to conclude that he was Netaji. Like Shri Gupta, they also diarised the talks they had with Bhagwanji. In his testimony Shri Nag, however, further stated that Bhagwanji used to talk about various events of his earlier life including his days in INA from which he was convinced that Bhagwanji was none but Netaji. He also produced before this Commission a book titled \\’Oi Mahamanab Ashey\\’ (in two volumes) wherein he has, incorporated what Bhagwanji told him. He also referred to a monthly journal \\’Jayashsree\\’, of which he was the editor, where also the same issue was written about.

About janamejayan

A Viraat Hindu dedicated to spread the message of Paramacharya of Kanchi
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