By Shali Ittaman
Subhas Bose was present in the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1946! The proof lies in the high-security Paddolsk Military Archive, situated 40 km from Moscow.
Alexander Kolesnikov, a former major-general of the Warsaw Pact, who accessed these files in October 1996, says Josef Stalin, the general-secretary of the CPSU, and his cabinet were considering various options to deal with Bose in 1946. The discussion centred on the question:”Should he (Bose) be kept in Russia?”
As a member of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow, Alexander Kolesnikov was permitted to visit the archive under a Indo-Russian cultural agreement. However, owing to security reasons, he was not allowed to copy the page, file number and volume of the document he had studied.
During a meeting with an Indian Parliamentary Delegation to the Russian Federation in 1996, he gave a written account of all his findings. The delegation, which included the late Chitta Basu and Sri Jayanta Roy of the Forward Bloc, brought the writing back to India.
This account is the basis of the affidavit before the Mukherjee Commission submitted by Dr Purabi Roy, a research scholar who was sent as part of Asiatic Society’s three-member team to Russia to study Indian documents from 1917-1947. Since Paddolsk was out of bounds for her being a foreigner, Kolesnikov was assigned the job.
Apart from other things, the Russian account confirms the belief in various quarters that Bose had planned to shift base to Russia. Some of the related Russian documents discovered by the Asiatic team include Bose’s contact with Soviet leaders seeking recognition for the Azad Hind Government and Soviet agents activities in India during and after World War II.
The Soviet Spymaster’s Report
The document which throws fiercer light on the events of the time, is Soviet agent Sayadyants’ India papers.
Sayadyants, who lived in Bombay, was gathering India related information on “Soviet high command orders” while operating as a seller of Soviet books, periodicals and films.
His papers (MID. Fond. 0179. OPIS la. Papka ia. Delo 8, 1946) [Eng. Translation ] talk extensively about Bose, his ideology and political leanings, and his influence over the Indian masses. He implies in the papers that if the Soviets were to work with an Indian leader it almost surely would have to be Subhas Bose. Whether or not Stalin was influenced by the Sayadyants’ views remains to be understood.
There is also a reference to Sayadyants’ August 1946 visit to Moscow through Tehran during which he meets Soviet Ambassador to Iran I V Sadchikov. Dr Purabi Roy says, Sayadyants had mentioned to the ambassador that “he was carrying Nehru’s letter to Stalin seeking the latter’s support”. (It is of course, historically known that Stalin neither met Nehru nor his ambassadoress Vijaylakshmi Pandit, despite the best efforts of lobbyists such as Krishna Menon).
Whereas Kolesnikov-Purabi Roy findings, which include various sensitive files, establish Bose’s presence in Moscow, a lot of supporting evidence has come Hindustan Times’ way since it began the public probe 15 days ago.
For instance, there is the testimony of Ashok Rai, a former resident of Quetta, Baluchistan, who read the Hindustan Times appeal and came forward to submit what looks to be a vital piece of information. If the testimony stands up to scrutiny, this could be the start of another research to establish how Subhas Bose reached Russia after Japan pronounced him dead on August 18, 1945.