Bhagwanji and Nethaji : A Review on Nethaji's Death Mystery
There is too much in common between Bhagwanji, a hermit who died in Faizabad in 1985, and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Bhagwanji sounded like him, looked like him, stood as tall, was of the same age, had similar reading habits and even had common friends. Like Bose, he too had gaps between his teeth and had a scalpel mark on his abdomen. Some rare documents, photographs and souvenirs, which reportedly belonged to the Bose family, were also found from the hermit’s house.
Last fortnight, B Lal, an expert appointed by HindustanTimes.com concluded that the “writings of Bhagwanji and Netaji are of common authorship”.
Now, the Mukherjee Commission, which is probing Netaji’s disappearance, may order a DNA test on Bhagwanji’s teeth retrieved from the latter’s belongings. Officially, with that may also come the final word on the Netaji mystery. Until then, the evidence from Faizabad must speak for itself.
At the end of a July to August investigation in 2001, HindustanTimes.com had concluded that ‘Netaji’s death in the August 18, 1945 air crash in Taiwan was a decoy to mislead the pursuing Allied forces. After the crash story was planted with Japanese help, Netaji had probably made his way into Soviet Russia “to work with Stalin to free India”. What happened hence, continued to be a mystery until the Faizabad link emerged recently.
Incidentally, Bhagwanji’s life was as much a point of controversy and curious debate as was his death. His followers, who also knew him asGumnami Baba, remember him as a secretive person; he rarely went out of his room and met people from behind a curtain.
On his death, when news spread that he was Netaji, the Uttar Pradesh High Court ordered his belongings to be sealed and sent to the Faizabad treasury. On December 22, 2001, the seals were broken for Mukherjee Commission to collect handwriting and DNA samples.
Meanwhile, HindustanTimes.com tried to find out more about the hermit. Following is the result of the investigation based on documentary and circumstantial evidence and cross-examination of witnesses.
Bhagwanji was a Bengali, who was adept at English, Hindustani, Sanskrit and German. He wore round spectacles and a round gold watch, which looked like the ones that Netaji wore. (Netaji’s specs and watch were not found after his supposed death in 1945.) He treasured many rare and original pictures of Netaji’s parents. (He also revered an umbrella, said to be of Netaji’s father.) His followers included many of Netaji’s associates, including INA Secret Service sleuth Dr Pabitra Mohan Roy, Leela Roy, Sunil Das and Trailokya Nath Chakaravarty. They kept tab on everything that was said and written on Netaji, especially his death mystery. He had a mind for matters military and often spoke of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mountbatten as his equals. Also, partition perturbed him. Every year on January 23 (Netaji’s birthday), many people, including Pabitra Mohan Roy, celebrated Bhagwanji’s birthday. The original of the Khosla Commission’s 1971 summons to Suresh Bose, Netaji’s elder brother, was found among Bhagwanji’s belongings. HindustanTimes.com also met some of Bhagwanji’s associates who are under an oath of secrecy. They give the impression that he was indeed Netaji. (Netaji too was known to put his men under oath.) HindustanTimes.com also discussed its findings with experts on Netaji, including some of his family members. Most of them agreed with the inferences whereas the rest offered nothing in contradiction.