Kolkata: Ever since the West Bengal government declassified several top secret files relating to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, interesting stories about the veteran freedom fighter's secretive life continue to surface in the media almost everyday.
One such story about the legendary freedom fighter, published in 'The Telegraph' on Tuesday, claimed that he was married to a Czech lady with whom he had a daughter named "Nima".
The report claimed that a page in the Netaji files contains unverified claims that a manuscript of Subhas Chandra Bose's autobiography conclusively proved that he did not die in a plane crash and that he married a Czech lady who gave birth to a girl called "Nima".
However, a relative of Netaji and historian Sugata Bose has categorically rubbished the claim about his relationship with the girl as a "cock-and-bull story".
Interestingly, another scholar has also claimed that the special branch official who had drafted the note on Netaji might have mixed up the nationalities and the name of the child, leading to confusion.
As per the report, Emilie Schenkl, with whom Netaji had a daughter called 'Anita', was from Austria, which borders the erstwhile Czechoslovakia. The scholar pointed to the phonetic similarities between "Anita" and "Nima".
The claim is made on Page 198 of File 43, labelled secret and dated May 12, 1948. It was forwarded by the Deputy Commissioner of the Calcutta Police Special Branch to the Deputy Inspector-General of the intelligence branch (CID) and the Director of the Intelligence Bureau (Union Home Ministry). The quotes below are being reproduced verbatim.
The report says: "It is learnt that Aurobinda Bose, during his last visit to Prague in connection with the World Students' Conference in 1947, became the guest of a Czeck lady who supplied him three parts of manuscript autobiography of Subhas Ch. Bose; the last part contained his observations regarding the Cripps Mission etc."
(Aurobindo Bose, the son of Netaji's brother Suresh Chandra Bose, died childless in the 1990s. The Cripps Mission was a 1942 attempt by the British Indian government to secure full cooperation from India for the British war efforts in World War II in exchange for the promise of full self-government after the war.)
"This lady also gave Aurobinda a writing case of Subhas Chandra Bose along with some other small articles of personal use of him. This lady instructed Aurobinda to publish the first two parts of the autobiography of Subhas Bose and not to publish now the last one which contained matters which would conclusively prove that Subhas Bose had not died in the plane crash in which he was said to have been seriously injured and subsequently died in a Japanese Hospital," the report said.
"It is further learnt that Subhas Bose married this Czeck lady during his European visit during the last war and he had got a daughter by name 'Nima' by this lady. It is also said that thirty pounds of food-stuff are sent to this lady every month from Bombay," the report added.
The veteran freedom fighter had visited Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia) more than once between 1933 and 1938, according to an overview by the Indian Embassy at Prague (in the Czech Republic) on bilateral relations.
"The Indian leader, who visited Czechoslovakia the most times between 1933 and 1938 was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. He founded the Indo-Czech Association in Prague in 1934 and met Edvard Benes several times as foreign minister and President," the Embassy said in a statement.
Ridiculing the report, Sugata Bose, the Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History at Harvard, said he had never heard of something "so absurd" in his life.
"What Czech lady? What daughter? This is an absolute cock-and-bull story. I've never even heard of anything so absurd in my life, as a historian and as a member of the family," Sugata Bose was quoted as saying from Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Monday evening.
"This is from 1948, you say. By that time, the truth about his Austrian wife and daughter was already well known."
"This is why one should not base history on reports of special branch informers. This is why one needs the trained eyes of a historian to go through such files before forming an opinion or arriving at an inference.... This, quite frankly, is laughable," he added.
Another historian, who spoke of the possibility of a mix-up "in all likelihood", said, "An informer of the Calcutta police special branch in those days could have mixed up Czechoslovakia and Austria. The name of Netaji's daughter is Anita (Bose Pfaff). Nima isn't too far off. There could have been some confusion there too. It's quite possible that this report was about Emilie and Anita."