Some new facts about Netaji SubhasJanuary 25th, 2009 - 12:54 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) As one of his personal bodyguards, Captain Shobharam Tokas would always follow Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose wherever he went, taking care to remain a few steps behind and never looked him straight in the eyes. Till today, at the ripe old age of 89, Captain Tokas refuses to accept the ‘death” of Netaji in a mystery plane crash over Taiwan on Aug 18, 1945.
“That is a big ‘dhoka’ (deception). There was no plane crash. Netaji did not die in a plane crash, but went to Manchuria and from there to Russia,” Tokas told IANS here.
According to Tokas, Captain Habibur Rahman, Netaji’s adjutant who was also on the plane that reportedly crashed at Taihaku airport in Taiwan, ‘escaped without a scratch to his uniform, but Netaji was burnt to ashes in the crash”.
“How is it possible for one to escape a plane crash without a scratch,” asks Tokas.
He said that cadets of the Indian National Army (INA), the military force that Netaji formed to fight the occupying British, had gone to Taiwan to inspect the crash site and the ‘body’ of the freedom fighter, but were not allowed. “The Tokyo cadets were not allowed to even go near,” he said.
Recalling his days as bodyguard, Tokas said: “When Netaji came in front of me, I never looked straight into his eyes, and would give a salute.”
Tokas had initially joined the British Indian forces as sergeant at the age of 23 in 1942. He did a course on intelligence and later joined the INA and was made Netaji’s personal bodyguard.
Netaji had a very sharp memory, says Tokas. “He would call me by my name.”
Recalling Netaji’s last words to members of the INA or Azad Hind Fauj, he said, “When Netaji left us, he said he was going to an undisclosed place. ‘Your sacrifices shall not go in vain’, he told us.”
He also recalled how the INA troops while fighting the British army in the northeast underwent great hardships, without food and medicines. “Our clothes were in tatters, and we had nothing to eat, so we would boil banana stems for food. But our spirits were strong.”
He said there are around seven-eight INA members living in Delhi. “Most are bedridden, and suffering from some ailment or the other.” Tokas too is not well and has been advised by his doctor to take it easy.
He started getting government aid as freedom fighter only from 1980. “Before that, it was only the freedom fighters of the Congress party who were entitled to government aid and recognition,” he added.
Tokas maintains that the government “does not like taking Netaji’s name” and are trying to “suppress” facts about his immense contribution to the freedom movement.
How does he spend his time? “I lie on the charpoy (wooden cot) the whole day, and sometimes go and meet people.”
He also loves to spend time with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He has two sons.
(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at email@example.com)
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Tags: adjutant, british army, cadets, crash site, freedom fighter, hardships, indian national army, medicines, military force, mystery plane, New Delhi, personal bodyguard, plane crash, sacrifices, salute, scratch, sergeant, stems, subhas chandra bose, tatters