New Delhi: The mystery surrounding Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's death continues to haunt countrymen and his followers all over the world as more and more claims about his last days are surfacing each day.
One such report, published in the Hindi daily 'Hindustan' on Friday, claimed that the veteran freedom fighter spent his last days as a saint living in caves near Kathy village on the Varanasi-Gazipur stretch.
Netaji used to introduce himself as saint Sardanand, the report claimed.
The report talks about a former PWD employee Krishnakant who used to be in constant touch with Netaji and made all arrangements for him. Regular correspondence between Netaji and Krishnakant continued even during those intervals when the freedom fighter toured areas outside Kathy.
As Krishnakant used to diligently make notes in his personal diary, he documented almost all of his interactions with Netaji.
Interestingly, the caves in which Netaji lived near Kathy village are more or less lost now owing to the strong currents of Ganga river.
Interestingly, Krishnakant's son and former Intelligence Bureau officer Shyamacharan Pandey provided all documented facts and letters exchanged between his father and Netaji to the Narendra Modi government as evidence to establish that the freedom fighter did not die in a plane crash in 1945 – as reported by the Indian and the world media.
Pandey wanted the NDA government to clear the air on Netaji based on the evidence provided by him, however, the objective was fulfilled when the West Bengal government declassified 64 confidential files relating to the freedom fighter.
In his letter sent to the PMO, Pandey stated that his father met a saint like figure at the congregation of Ganga and Gomti rivers on December 2, 1951. The saint, draped in a completely worn out shawl, was walking towards the ashram of Pauhari Baba of Gazipur.
While on his way to the ashram, the saint, in his Bengali-mixed Hindi accent, requested Krishnakant, who was then posted near a pontoon bridge, to make arrangements for his night stay.
Krishnakant immediately arranged a warm blanket for the saint and also urged him to stay there for a few more days.
The saint agreed but put a condition that he would stay at a solitary place, away from people's gaze.
Acting on the instructions of the saint, Krishnakant got a cave crafted some five kilometres away from the pontoon bridge on the Varanasi- Gazipur road.
On Jan 14, 1952, the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti, the saint entered the cave, which was covered with bamboo and had a wooden bench for him to rest.
The saint stayed there for long and was also regularly supplied with the English edition of the Amrit Bazaar Patrika.
However, despite all efforts to stay away from people's eye, the locals soon got wind of a saint staying in close vicinity and started thronging the cave with reverence.
Two local dailies from Varanasi had also carried the news about the saint, which prompted him to shift to an undisclosed location – somewhere in the Vindhyanchal mountain range.
According to Pandey's letter, the saint shifted his base from Kathy around February 14, 1952.
Pandey also mentions in his letter that saint Sardanand would meet visitors only on the condition that they would not make inquiries about veteran freedom fighter Netaji, with whom he had close resemblance.
In 1973, Shyamacharan Pandey had once asked the saint about Netaji's death in an air crash in 1945 to which he replied that the veteran freedom fighter did not die in the plane crash though he might have died later.
The ex-IB officer's letter also states the reason why Netaji did not want to disclose his identity as it would have put pressure on Jawaharlal Nehru to hand him over to the Britisher as part of an international treaty on war criminals.