FUNERAL of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Posted By Author on October 10, 2011

FUNERAL

April 19th 1977:

I got up early. I had wash, bath and breakfast. Uttamchandji, Sohanlalji, and I went to a local bus stop.  Waited a while.  Got the bus.  Met other two acquaintances in the bus.  In midway to 194, Rajpura road, I saw a police jeep coming followed by truck with police and then an ordinary truck followed with all our people from bungalow of 194, Rajpura road.

We stopped the bus and got down.  Then by another bus reached the stand and engaged a taxi for Rishikesh.  The driver of our taxi was a Sardar (Sikh) who had been to 194 for ‘Darshan’.  We started and midway joined the convoy.  A wooden box was in the truck in which Netaji’s body was carried most unceremoniously.  A couple of trucks with armed police joined us.  The reserved police with helmets and guns were scattered everywhere both in Dehradun and Rishikesh.  Police also guarded the road. What a co-incidence. Books have mentioned that after air crash at Taihoku Netaji was taken in a truck wrapped in blanket.

Straightway we reached the common cremation ground of Rishikesh.  It was on the confluence of the dry bed of a river, which we crossed by bridge on way towards Laxman Zula, and the Ganges. Trucks were loading boulders for construction work.  To the west were hutments of outskirts of Rishikesh and to east was a white temple and a garden surrounded by wall.  I was taking minute-to-minute notes.

We reached the bank of the Ganges at 9 A.M. The old truck bearing number U.S.K. 21121, Mercedes, brought Netaji’s body in the wooden casket.  The truck was standing with back towards the river.  There was a yellow police truck No.U.S.D.6492 and a jeep of the police department with some petty officers.  There was no police officer of the rank of D.S.P. or above.  Armed police were more in number than those people who came for cremation.  The ambassador car of Mr. Khosla of L.I.C. was there.

Ramen Roy was sitting in Khosla’s car.  I kept my suitcase in the dickey and locked it.  Budhiballabhji Penoli managed all arrangement of cremation.  He too came in Khosla’s car.  I talked with Ramen Roy and told him to forget the past.  He retorted that I should convince Ramanidada for forgiveness.  Still he was foolish enough.  They went to bring some assortment of ‘Pooja’ and a Brahmin.  I told Mr. Khosla and Penoliji to get any photographer from the city.  I sauntered around and jotted down the names of the known faces present.  Our servant Algu was preparing a flat portion on the bank with a shovel.  Ordinary timber logs were piled side by side.  In the river bed driftwood was stagnant in great quantity.

I was restless for a photographer.  From Dehradun one young Sikh photographer came.  He was the very person who took snaps of Netaji’s body in natural posture in his room earlier.  He informed me that no copy of those photographs was available with him as Superintendent of police Shri A.K.Joshi seized all negatives and prints.  If he was not Netaji what on earth made police to seize negatives of dead body of a Sadhu? The photographer promised to get a set of photographs for me.  I apprised him of importance of certain poses of the body and persons and children who must be covered in photos.  He agreed and got ready.  Weather became cloudy.  Wind was very strong.  On way we already had shower.  I cautioned the photographer about condition of light (being myself a photographer).  His full address was

Jogi Photo Studio

Moti Bazaar, Dehradun (U.P.)

I could note the following persons present at the cremation ground:

Uttamchandji Malhotra,

Sohanlalji Kapoor,

Col. Pritam Singhji of I.N.A.,

Secretary of Shaulmari Ashram Ramani Ranjan Das,

Shri Giriraj Prasad of Hodal, Hariyana (Phone: 89),

Rudri Dutta Raj of Dehradun,

Shri Vidyaratanji, his son Shashi Ratan (Delhi),

Mr. Parekh and Mr. Sharma of Delhi,

Mr. R.L.Sharma of 109, Idgah, Chakrata road, Dehradun,

Ramen Roy, Gobind Shah (Calcutta),

Ramesh Saxena (Etawah, U.P.),

Mahavir Prasad of Delhi,

Hiralaji Dixit, Trilokchand Jain (Delhi),

Mr. Khosla (Deharadun),

Mrs. Protima Bose,

Mrs. Das (teachers),

Inspector Garg of Rishikesh,

Shibnath Bose (Calcutta),

Purushottamji Arya (Dehradun),

Budhiballabh Penoliji of Rishikesh,

Algu, our servant,

Capt.Dilbagh of I.N.A.,

Mr. Goyal, Mr. Milkhan of Etawah,

Badh Raj Shingari of Jullunder,

Mrs. Khosla,

Mrs. Mohan, daughter of Mohan,

Mr. and Mrs. Thakur of Kanpur,

Saidas of Jullunder, etc.

A couple of police officers and hundred and thirty- five armed guards surrounded the pyre.

At 10.15 A.M. the body with box was removed from the truck and brought near the river Ganges.  I was directing the photographer and everybody was trying to get in the photograph.  Initially Shibnath Bose and the secretary objected the photographer but when he told my name, none dared to object.

The cover of the coffin was removed for some time to enable people to have last ‘Darshan’.  There was a great rush.  Photo session continued.

The place where pooja rites were performed was away from the pyre.  The children with Gobind were there.  Lot of flowers and Pooja material was laid.  The Brahmin priest was not ready to perform the last rites saying that Baba was a ‘Kshatriya’ and hence he would not agree to perform the pooja of Baba as a Brahmin.  At long last another priest was brought.  Chinmayee (Chinu) the eldest daughter of Netaji from Gita performed the rites. Imagine putrefaction of body from the photograph of children sitting far away near material of pooja. They are holding nose due to unbearable stench. (What a travesty of fate. Netaji as a student was insulted in Mathura and Banaras on the basis of cast.)

Two European young boys came out of curiosity. Huge gathering of armed police attracted them. So also some local people came.  I apprised them that the body was of a greatest freedom fighter of India but in recluse since thirty-two year.  They spoke Spanish and French and understood English so-so.  They were surprised to know things.  I requested them to take as many photographs as possible as they were of great historic importance.  I promised to see them later.  Their car cum truck was far away near the temple.  One of them rushed to get his Polaroid camera.  He brought it from quite a distance.  In the meantime the body along with box was laid on the pile of firewood.  The sides of the box were removed.  It was impossible to lift the body hence the bottom plank was retained.  The decay and stench of the body was too much.  I was anxious and worried but the Spaniard came in time.  He took two coloured snaps.  One was close-up and other was from distance. Within three minutes he took out the coloured instant prints.  Shook and dried them and handed over to me.  First coloured photographs and last one of Netaji’s body before being consigned to flames were in my possession.  The Spaniards brought a dossier on India and took out sketch of Subhash Bose in French.  They again confirmed identity of Baba as Netaji through me.  Both were reading and speaking in French.  They became more curious and took more photographs, which they carried.  I promised them to send black and white photographs and news cutting.  Their addresses were:

Mikel Forcadea and Jon Indo

San Marcial, 17-F

S P A I N

There was one young chap who approached me and told. “Sir, that white bearded Sardarji, pointing at Col. Pritam Singh, often used to tell us recently that Netaji was alive and will come out soon.”  Even Ajitsingh Bindra, a Sikh owner of a radio shop at Dehradun, told me that Pritam Singhji often confessed to him that Baba was Netaji.

The body was placed on the pyre.  The last session of ‘Darshan’ and snaps was over.  The logs were laid over the body and covered completely.  At midday the eldest daughter Chinu lit the pyre. Chanting of ‘Raghupati raghav rajaram’ was going on all through by ladies and some men.  Thus the hungry flames devoured and closed the final tragic chapter of Netaji’s mortal remains. He proved his words true to facts. His favourite poem of Alexander Pope since the age of eighteen:

Thus let me live unseen unknown,

Thus unlamented let me die;

Steal from the world and not a stone

Tell where I lie.

All of us waited for two hours and then pouring water put off fire of the pyre. In the meantime it rained slightly.  There was an explosion nearby probably for road widening or killing fish by throwing burning gelatin sticks.  There was a vertical cliff on the other bank of the river.  Due to vibration of the explosion some rock of the cliff tumbled down.  Baba’s disciples started adding Divine miracle to the incident. The fact was that boys were throwing dynamite sticks in the river to kill and catch fishes.  I observed it to be a common phenomenon to catch fish all through Garhwal.  Road contractors had plenty of stock to provide the sticks clandestinely.  So without doubt vibration of explosion was the cause of chunk of the cliff coming down.  Shower was just a coincidence but that too was talked of as Divine miracle.

Shri Krishnakantji Pandey who spent his life for Baba since about 1949 reached the cremation ground directly.  He reached late and was annoyed that he could not take last ‘Darshan’ of Baba after his death.  He too was not allowed in Baba’s room at 194, Dehradun. Local people and constables surrounded Uttamchandji.  Poor fellow was explaining the truth.

Radhakant Pndey who sacrificed his entire life for Baba since 1949 was absent. It pinched me.

I did not like Gobind Shah’s attitude only once when he retorted that all of us were Baba’s ‘Chelaes’ (disciples) and that I was continuing the ‘khela’ (game).  This he spoke in sarcasm and Krishnakantji said it seemed all Bengalies were becoming one coterie to shield and guard the truth and hide the grave mistake. For me indeed all non-Bengalies were like fish out of water.

At about 2.30 P.M. the burning pyre was doused.  The remnants of the bones were collected.  Ashes were gathered in a mud pot and coal was thrown in the Ganges.  Ramen Roy took the earthen pot on his shoulders and walked into the river.  He was in waist deep water and then he immersed the bones and ashes.  Gobind tried to show his feat of swimming.  People were dumb spectators observing antics of Ramen and Gobind.  Ramen Roy took ten minutes to give ‘Arghya’ (Tarpan) and all showy things, a man who could not live without ‘bidi’ or drink.  All of us abhorred their exhibitionism and hypocrisy.

I had a talk with Uttamchandji to carry some bones and ashes with us and preserve them till national recognition was obtained and then immerse in all glory. First all of them agreed but later they were frustrated so much that all of us dropped the idea.

While collecting ashes a lad was caught who was trying to steal a piece of bone. I took a small piece of bone and wrapped it in my handkerchief. I informed about it to Ramanidada and told him that I would immerse asti in the Godavari at Trimbakeshwar, as Panchavti was Baba’s favourite spot.  He agreed. For Netaji’s love of Panchvati (Panchbati) see (N-122)

I took my suitcase from Mr. Khosla’s car.  With Uttamchandji and Sohanlalji we came to the city.  We had a cup of tea.  We were exhausted.  We walked down to the motor stand.  On way the truck that carried Baba’s coffin met and stopped.  All colleagues, ladies and the Secretary were in it.  Actually we never wanted to go back to 194, Rajpura road, Deharadun.  However it was destined.  We climbed in the truck.   Sohanlalji and I were chatting closely in light humour.  The inmates were staring at us. Everybody held nose to avoid obnoxious lingering odour of the disintegrated body. It was unbearable even in empty truck.

A taxi followed us.  Shaulmari Ashram residents were in it.  They were Mrs.Flora Rai, Dinbandhu Dutta, and Rajat Kanti Bhadra, Hira with beard and long hair and one more inmate whose name I did not remember.  They were late.  They came in taxi from Dehradun but unfortunately missed the cremation.  They saw the place where Baba was cremated and returned dejected.

At 4 P.M. we left Rishikesh and by 5.30 P.M. reached Dehradun, 194, Rajpura road.  A truck full of armed guards followed us.  After reaching one constable distributed sweets as ‘Prasad’.

I entered the bungalow.  Ananta, my attendant, was foolishly waiting for me.  In the kitchen Mrs. Das, teacher, was weeping.  Ramesh Saxena was there. The Secretary, Ramani Ranjan Das insulted Mrs. Das in presence of all. I despised it. I lost my temper and scolded all.  Ramani Ranjan Das, the secretary ordered Mrs. Das to get down the truck while starting from the cremation ground.  Gobind Shah came and started shouting, “Who says Baba was murdered. “From the adjoining room Sohanlaji retorted indignantly, “ I say so. Both rushed on each other shouting at the top of voice.  Gobind made an aggressive show but dared not scuffle with Sohanlalji physically.  Both were raising their voice.  Others grabbed Gobind and I sent him out.  It was a big ‘Tamasha’. If Gobind Shah had assaulted Sohanlalji, the Dehradunwallas would have finished him then and there.  Sohanlalji’s resentment and reaction was but natural.  He was duped by about Rs. 45000 after Baba’s death keeping him in the ignorant notion of ‘Samadhi’.  Bill of ration were still pending against his name.  On his credit all material was supplied.  He was always given a false impression that Baba was alright and that on 7th April 1977 Ramani Ranjan Das, secretary, alerted Sohanlalji to keep ready hand washed clothes (customary and obligatory) as Baba would come out any moment and call him and others.  Sohanlaji was shocked and dazed to see the disintegration of Baba’s body and the way he was cheated and deceived by the secretary and his fellow Bengali inmates.  Pritam Singhji also corroborated with them.  Nobody paid heed to my warnings. It was too late for them to realise that they were beguiled assuring Baba’s revival from Samadhi. Sohanlaji said to me that like beggars these people used to come to him and now they were threatening him in his own house.  I pacified Sohanlalji.  We packed.

I went inside to bid good-bye to all.  Ramani Ranjan Das, secretary, was sitting with members from Shaulmari Ashram and was enjoying tea.  When I went in his room he did not show any sign of cognizance and suddenly turned hysteric.  I was afraid that he might go lunatic permanently.  He taunted me that Baba’s people wanted to take body marks.  He shrieked “See, see, see.” I pitied his condition and kept quiet.  I took Rajat aside.  Talked with him and left.  I also had a talk with Dinbandhu who was quite of understanding nature.  When I came out, I met Gobind in sporting spirit and convinced him that they were seeing only one side of a coin while we were seeing the other side.  I expressed that we should not depart with bitter feeling about each other.  We then embraced.

I called on Ramen Roy to bury the hatchet.  The lawyer was hateful.  When I went to shake hand he refused by pulling back his hand.  It was insulting.  I said what nonsense.  On that he remarked that Baba’s people were bringing disrepute to him by calling him as Netaji and giving lectures.  I again lost my temper.  I bluntly said to him, “You bloody idiot of the first water, you revered him so much as a saint and allowed his body to rot for 107 days.  You cannot differentiate between death and Samadhi.  What did you learn here in spiritual world? You are a liar, hypocrite and a clod headed butcher.  I am sorry to abuse you in mild terms. I cannot use vile invectives for the sake of decency.  I am going.” He was crestfallen.

So saying I bade adieu to 194, bungalow of Rajpura road.  Dinbandhu came to pacify me and I assured him not to worry.  He did not receive my inland letter dropped at Shaulmari Ashram’s address.  I promised to keep in touch with him through correspondence.  With Ananta I left.

On the main gate Mrs. Das and Protima Bose were waiting for me.  Uttamchandji and Sohanlalji already left after waiting for me.  Mrs. Das took me to her home and told me that others were joining there.  Mrs. Bose was also there.  Mrs. Das called her husband and introduced.

We had coffee and chat.  Her neighbours came.  Discussion followed.  I showed them photographs and script.  Mrs. Das’s sister was moonstruck and was living with her.  Her husband stayed with his brother.  I felt something fishy.  Her sons were in service and well set.  We dined there and left at 10 P.M.  On way Mrs. Bose explained the story of this couple and doubtful moral character. I did not like backbiting and character assassination. I left Mrs. Bose at her house and reached Sohanlalji’s residence at 11 P.M. They were just asleep after waiting a long while for me.  He came and made arrangements for us.  We had a little chat and retired for the day.

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