A new translation of a letter in Japanese written by the chief priest of Tokyo's Renkoji temple, keeper of an urn containing ashes and bone fragments believed to be those of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, to the Indian government in 2005 revealed that permission was given for DNA test to the Justice MK Mukherjee Commission.
However, for inexplicable reasons this portion of the letter was not translated and a bland edited English version was attached to the Justice Mukherjee Commission's report on the disappearance of Bose as evidence that "on account of the Temple Authorities reticence... the commission could not proceed further (on the issue of DNA tests)".
The Commission later used this to conclude that the ashes were not of Netaji's, giving credence to speculations that he may have survived to become an ascetic or prisoner in a Russian prison.
Madhuri Bose, the legendary freedom fighter's grand-niece -- the grand-daughter of his brother Sarat Bose, told PTI, "We recently commissioned the fresh translation after we found inconsistencies in the Mukherjee Commission report and found several paragraphs in the letter written in Japanese missing from the official English version in the Justice Mukherjee Inquiry Report."
The new translation by a Japanese language expert revealed that Nichiko Mochizuki, the chief priest of the Renkoji Temple -- a 427-year-old Buddhist temple, had written "I agreed to offer my cooperation for the testing. The same was agreed upon at the meeting with (Indian) Ambassador (M.L) Tripathi (to Japan) last year (2004)" in the omitted portion.
The translation could not be independently authenticated by PTI.
"We do not understand why this permission was not made public earlier or why DNA tests were not conducted," said Madhuri Bose, who has served in the Commonwealth Secretariat and at the United Nations, besides authoring books on the Bose brothers.
The Mukherjee Commission, which tabled its report in Parliament in 2006, had concluded that Bose "did not die in the plane crash, as alleged" by eye-witnesses, including his close confidantes from the INA, and that "the ashes in the Japanese temple were not of Netaji".
Eye-witnesses, including Col Habib-Ur-Rahman of the INA, had said Bose died in a plane crash in August 1945 in Taipei.
Theories that he survived or was never on the aircraft that crashed gained ground as a result of the report, as also a hypothesis that he may have turned into an ascetic or imprisoned in a Russian gulag.
A movie suggesting that he might have become someone called 'Gumnami Baba' was also made in recent years, while several news reports indicated he might have been imprisoned by Russian leader Joseph Stalin in Siberia.
"We had great faith in the Mukherjee Commission and we saw a glimmer of hope at one time that the truth about Netaji's disappearance will come out with the final report... However many glaring discrepancies in the report forced us to look at it again," said Madhuri Bose.
"What we find is that the Japanese temple wanted a DNA test and we (India) never conducted one," she said.
The portion of the chief priest's letter, which was omitted from the official translation, also said that after the Japanese lost the war, conditions under US-UK occupation were severe, yet the temple authorities undertook the then dangerous task of preserving Netaji's ashes as sought by an Indian delegation, which included "Col Raman (Habib-ur-Rahman), Mr (SA) Iyer and Mrs (Sati) Sahay", and by the Japanese foreign minister.
The letter went on to say "therefore, I strongly believe these to be the same remains, the ashes of Subhas Chandra Bose without a doubt".
Mochizuki also said that his late father, then chief priest, "would sleep while embracing them (the urn with the ashes) in his arms so no tampering or harm would come to them".
Three members of the Bose family, including Netaji's daughter Anita Pfaff, Dwarka Nath Bose -- a well-known physicist and son of his elder brother, and Ardhendu Bose -- another nephew of Netaji, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2016 and December 2019, asking him to order a DNA test of the ashes at Renkoji.
The letter written in December 2019 said that "in view of the fact that some Indians, also some members of our family, have previously voiced their doubts regarding the death of Netaji in Taipei, we hope the scientific evidence of such a test will bring closure to the discussion in India".
However, Madhuri Bose said no response has yet been received by the family for "a DNA test and final closure" to the mystery of Netaji's disappearance and the ashes.