UK had considered listing Netaji a 'war criminal'

Declassification of files: Political parties engage in slugfest after move

UK had considered listing Netaji a 'war criminal'

The files declassified by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on Saturday revealed that the UK government had considered listing Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as a “war criminal” days after his purported death in an air crash in Taipei, but never actually did so.

Though Netaji led Indian National Army to wage a war against British government to end its colonial rule over India, he never figured in the list of “war criminals”.

“With reference to the specific question you posed namely whether Subhas Chandra Bose was included by the United Kingdom in its ‘list of war criminals’ drawn up after the second World War, I have been unable to find any evidence that any such action was taken by the United Kingdom,” J J Harding, an official of Army Historical Branch of Ministry of Defence of UK government, on December 7, 1999 conveyed to Pawan Kapoor, who was then a First Secretary in the High Commission of India in London.

Harding’s letter to Kapoor is among thousands of documents contained in the 100 Netaji-related files released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. But the declassified files also revealed that the British government had considered treating Bose as war-criminal just five days after his purported death in the air-crash in Taipei.

Political difficulties

“In many ways, the easiest course would be to leave him where he is and not ask for his release. He might, of course, in certain circumstances be welcomed by the Russians. This course would raise fewest immediate political difficulties, but the security authorities consider that in certain circumstances his presence in Russia would be so dangerous as to rule it out altogether,” Sir RF Mudie, Home Member of the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee government’s India Office, wrote in a communique to Sir Evan Jenkins, Home Secretary and the last Governor of Punjab, on August 23, 1945.

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