New Delhi: Adding to the mystery surrounding Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose last days, a report now claims that the freedom fighter may have survived the crash and lived incognito as KK Bhandari in 1963 in Shalumari Ashram in north Bengal.
As per a report in The Times of India, one of the 'Netaji files' declassified on May 27 suggests that the identity of Bhandari was discussed at the topmost levels of the government in 1963.
Shalumari Baba had sparked nationwide rumours in the early 1960s that he was actually Subhas Bose.
As per the report, the matter was brought to the attention of then PM Jawaharlal Nehru by Ramani Ranjan Das, secretary of the Shalumari Ashram in 1963.
The matter was followed up by K Ram, principal private secretary to the PM, to the director of Intelligence Bureau BN Mallik in a top secret memo on May 23, 1963.
The IB chief replied on June 12 in a top-secret note (No III(51)/63(6) about KK Bhandari.
Again, on September 7 the same year, the PMO made a top secret reference on the matter of Bhandari. After a reminder was sent on November 11, the Intelligence Bureau sent out a top secret reply on November 16.
The contents of the letters remains a secret.
37 years later, the matter was again discussed in the PMO in 1999 when the Mukherjee commission, set up to unravel the Netaji mystery sought access to the documents.
The TOI quotes a note by Under Secretary (NGO)on July 5, 2000: "As discussed with Director (A) where Under Secretary (Political) was also present, we may ask IB to concur with the downgradation of the two letters dated 12/6/1963 and 16/11/1963 sent to Director IB by Shri K Ram, PPS to PM about Shri K K Bhandari (believed to be Shri Subhas Chandra Bose)."
Later, the Mukherjee Commission, in its report, had asserted that K K Bhandari was not Netaji.
However, the new findings may suggest that although Shalumari baba was not Netaji, he may have been living as KK Bhandari in the ashram.