Tue, Aug 16, 2005 - Page 4 News List

UK ordered killing of famed Indian freedom fighter


The British Foreign Office ordered the assassination in 1941 of one of India's most prominent freedom fighters, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, according to documents presented by an Irish historian and reported by a television network yesterday.

Eunan O'Halpin, a professor at Trinity College in Dublin, said he found the documents at the Public Records Office in London and presented the information at a lecture on Sunday in Calcutta, one day before the 59th anniversary of India's independence from Britain, NDTV reported.

O'Halpin said the assassination was ordered on March 7, 1941, when Bose was in hiding in Kabul after escaping virtual house arrest in Calcutta. The order was reconfirmed in June.

The assassination was to have been attempted in Turkey, a country Bose was expected to pass through on his way to Germany, O'Halpin said.

However, Netaji never went to Turkey. He reached Berlin via Moscow.

"As far as I know, he was the only significant political leader in any colony fighting British colonization who was explicitly targeted for assassination," O'Halpin said of the man who set up the Indian National Army to fight the British and who coordinated with the Axis powers during World War II.

"Now the reason he was targeted is because of his intentions to not simply lead India out of the empire but to do it by force and in conjunction with the Axis," the professor added.

Bose went missing in 1945, and the disappearance of the man known popularly as "Netaji," which means "leader" in Hindi, remains a mystery.

There are varying theories, including one that says he died in a 1945 plane crash in Taiwan, but none have been confirmed and no body has been recovered. Probes into his disappearance have yet to reach a conclusion.

NDTV quoted Netaji's grandnephew and Harvard historian Sugata Bose as saying the documents were a "rare find." Netaji's family had briefed Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the revelations before making the documents public on the eve of India's Independence Day, NDTV said.

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