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Netaji did not die in 1945 air crash: Mamata Banerjee

33West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday that she believes Subhas Chandra Bose was alive after 1945, the first head of government to publicly indicate the freedom-fighter did not die in the purported air crash in Taiwan.

Banerjee’s comments came soon after her government made public 64 classified files related to the freedom-fighter who is said to have died on August 18, 1945 at Taihoku in Taiwan in an aeroplane crash.

Banerjee said that her statement was based on whatever she has read so far on Bose, who had raised the Indian National Army (INA) for an armed struggle against the British.

Basking in the attention of the historic moment, the chief minister remarked that after she has done her duty, the Centre should follow suit.

“I have done my duty by making public all the files and reports on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose available with us. Now the Union government should publish all the reports in their possession. If you have nothing to hide why don’t you disclose the reports?” said Mamata Banerjee in an address to the media at the Kolkata Police Museum.

The Centre has about 130 files that it has refused to declassify so far, one of the reasons being the revelation may harm India’s relations with other countries.

The chief minister said that since childhood she was curious to know the mystery behind the disappearance of Netaji, and when, where and how the leader spent his remaining years and eventually died.

“I think, like me, the whole world is interested to get to the bottom of this mystery. I have gone through a few pages of these reports and it indicates that Netaji was alive even after August 1945. I have no idea on the contents of the reports available with the Union government. But those reports might disclose many more unknown stories,” the chief minister added.

The chief minister also claimed that she was not aware of these files/reports when she came in power in 2011.

“Immediately after I came to know about these files, I asked the police to make them public. I had asked the police commissioner to make certain arrangements inside the Kolkata Police museum in North Kolkata so that students, tourists from all over the world and research scholars can sit here for hours and go through them,” she said.

To a question on how she felt about the role of Jawaharlal Nehru and the Gandhi family vis-a-vis the disappearance of Netaji, the chief minister said that she don’t want to comment on this issue without any evidence.

“It’s not ethical to comment or blame anybody without any evidence. But one thing is for sure from these reports, the intelligence units of the state and city police used to keep a strict surveillance on the Bose family even after independence,” said Banerjee.

After Independence, the Congress ruled West Bengal continuously till 1967, when the first United Front government came in power.