Indian government rejects findings on death of freedom fighter Bose

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India's government have rejected a panel's findings that the country's fiery freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose survived a 1945 plane crash in Taiwan.
The government's move is likely to spur a fresh debate on a long-running controversy over the mysterious disappearance of the independence leader, popularly known as "Netaji".

A report by a panel released last year had concluded that Bose had not died in the plane accident. The report also said ashes lying in a Japanese temple said to be Bose's were actually not his.

The panel, headed by retired judge Manoj Mukherjee, did not indicate what it thought his fate had been.

However, in its own report to parliament presented Wednesday, the government formally rejected those findings.

The government said it "has not agreed with the findings that Netaji (Bose) did not die in a plane crash and the ashes in the Renkoji Temple were not of Netaji."

Two previous probes by government panels had concluded that Bose did indeed die in a plane crash at Taihoku airport in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.

According to historical accounts, Bose -- who founded the Indian National Army (INA) and allied with Japan and Germany during World War II to fight the British -- was put under house arrest by the British in 1940 in Kolkata.

But on January 16, 1941 he escaped and fled to Moscow on an Italian passport from where he went to Berlin and raised the INA with the support of Indian prisoners of war, the accounts say.

In 1943, he reached Tokyo before continuing on to Singapore, where he formed an interim Indian independent government and declared war against the British.

He led the INA into northeast India in 1944 and unfurled the national flag but had to retreat after a British army offensive.

In August 1945, it was reported that Bose had been killed in a plane crash in Taiwan.

But Mukherjee told AFP last year that the Taiwan government had shown him documents which said there was no record of a plane crash in Taiwan between August 14 and September 20, 1945.

Mukherjee and other historians who dispute the plane crash theory have not offered alternatives to the circumstances of Bose's death.

"We will ask the government why it has rejected the Mukherjee report," said Nanda Das of the Forward Bloc party, which Bose founded in 1939, and whose three members in the federal parliament support the ruling Congress government.

Supporters of Bose, who is most revered in his home state of West Bengal, claim that their hero was in Soviet captivity after his reported death and allege a cover-up by Indian authorities.

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