Netaji files: Was Subhas Chandra Bose travelling with treasure valued at Rs 1 crore?

The fate of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the whereabouts of his treasure are two of the India's biggest political mysteries.

Last Updated: Jan 23, 2016, 19:45 PM IST
Netaji files: Was Subhas Chandra Bose travelling with treasure valued at Rs 1 crore?

New Delhi: The fate of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the whereabouts of his treasure are two of the India's biggest political mysteries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made public digital copies of 100 secret files relating to Bose on his 119th birth anniversary.

One of the files mentions that the Netaji Inquiry committee made under Shah Nawaz Khan made some observations regarding the treasure collected from the airfield when a plane, allegedly carrying Netaji, crashed.

 

When Rangoon (the capital of Japanese-occupied Burma and headquarters of the Azad Hind Bank) fell to the Allies, Netaji retreated to Bangkok on April 24, 1945, carrying with him the treasury of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind. From Bangkok, Netaji departed to Saigon.

Here are the points Shah Nawaz committee mentioned in its report:

  • Since Netaji did not want to depend much on his Japanese allies, he and his team raised funds from Indian residents in South East Asia. A Netaji fund committee was formed in this regard. The funds of Azad Hind Government were handled by the Azad Hind Bank. Most of the donations were in gold.
  • There are conflicting accounts on how much gold he took while leaving Rangoon.
  • According to Indian National Army (INA) comrade Debnath Das, while leaving Rangoon, Bose withdrew treasure valued at Rs 1 crore, consisting mostly gold bars and ornaments, from Azad Hind Bank and packed in 17 small sealed boxes. Before leaving Bankok, contents of 17 small sealed boxes were packed in two large leather suitcases, added Das.
  • General Jagannath Rao Bhonsle of the INA said Netaji brought to Bangkok six steel boxes. He added the contents in six steel boxes were repacked into two canvas bags at the time of Netaji's departure.
  • Azad Hind Bank chairman Dinanath told British intelligence that Netaji left Rangoon with 140 lbs of gold.
  • A leader of the Indian Independence League (IIL) in Bangkok, Pandit Raghunath Sharma, said Netaji took with him gold and ornaments worth Rs 1 crore. He added the valuables were in 10-12 steel boxes.
  • Netaji's personal valet Kundan Singh told the committee that the treasure was in "four steel cases which contained articles of jewellery commonly worn by Indian women, chains of ladies watches, necklaces, bangles, bracelets, earrings, pounds and guineas and some gold wires". It also included a gold cigarette case gifted to him by Adolf Hitler.
  • The committee was told that Netaji made heavy payments at Bangkok and Singapore. It was, however, not known that how much Netaji withdrew, paid, spent and how much gold he took with him.
  • According to Pandit Raghunath Sharma, Netaji took the treaure with him from Saigon, where his plane was held up for about half an hour, as the car in which gifts from 3 lakh East Asians to Netaji had not arrived.
  • There is a discrepancy when most witnesses say they were leather suitcases and around 30'' long. However, Captain Gulzara Singh and Colonel Pritam Singh said they were wooden boxes of smaller size.
  • Some officers told Mr Negishi (the Japanese interpreter attached to Netaji from Singapore) that Bose's baggage included 150 kilos of gold bullion.

The Shah Nawaz committee estimated the value of the box (which was eventually brought to India) at (then) Rs 1 lakh.