On the Trail of Subhas Chandra Bose

Subhas Chandra Bose had once said, “One individual may die for an idea, but that idea will, after his death incarnate itself in a thousand lives.” So here we are celebrating his 125th birthday. Subhas Chandra Bose, known as Netaji (the leader), is one of the most revered leaders of the Indian freedom movement. He was born in an elite and erudite Bengali family in Cuttack (Odisha) on 23 rd January, 1897. Today, let’s take up the trail of Subhas Chnadra Bose, the master of disguise, traveling all around the world for one goal; freedom of India.


Subhas Chandra Bose was born and schooled in Cuttack. Netaji’s house today is a museum dedicated to him and is the pivotal attraction of Cuttack. He was a brilliant student and so his father sent him to Kolkata and got him admitted in Presidency College but quit because of a tiff with some British faculty who encourages colonialism. He then joined Scottish Church College and graduated with a B.A. degree in Philosophy. His father sent him to London to prepare for Indian Civil Service (ICS) and he cleared the ICS Examination in 1920 where he ranked fourth. He resigned from ICS in 1921 as a protest against the Imperial rule and returned to India to join the Indian National Congress. In Kolkata he lived in his father’s majestic house in Elgin Road which is now a memorial and museum called, ‘Netaji Bhawan’, owned and managed by the Netaji Research Bureau.

Political Background:

Subhas Chandra Bose was elected the President of Indian National Congress in 1938. In 1939, however, he quit Congress Party due to differences in political ideologies and formed the Forward Bloc. While he was aiming at complete independence and advocated armed struggle and violent resistance, Congress would tread Mahatma Gandhi’s path of non violence and peaceful negotiations. He considered enemies of enemies to be friends. So he allied with Germany, Japan and Russia who were enemies to Great Britain in the Second World War. His dream of unqualified swaraj (self governance) for India resulted in formation of the ‘Azad Hind Fauj’. He founded the Indian National Army (INA) in 1942. Netaji was an exemplary leader even when it comes to women empowerment. INA had its female wing with women in command. From very childhood, Netaji was inspired by Swami Vivekananda.

The Great Escape

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was imprisoned in 1940 by the British and would be taken to court on 26th January, 1941. It was the time when Netaji was planning to contact the Germans. How would that be possible with him behind bars in Calcutta (Kolkata)? Netaji hatched a plan whose first step started with his hunger strike (fast) inside the jail. He was one of the most popular leaders and the British government couldn’t afford his death inside the prison walls. So they granted him bail and shifted him to his own house under vigilant house arrest. He with the help of his friend, a cousin and nephew escaped from the house with CID patrols outside and agents inside the house. He had announced seclusion within the house to practice spirituality and from there he fled on the full moon night of the 17th of January; his young nephew driving him to Gomoh Railway Station (near Dhanbad).

The Master of Disguise

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose took the Delhi-Kalka mail, disguised as a Muslim insurance agent called Mohammed Ziauddin and reached Peshawar. On 26th, the day he was supposed to be taken to court, he left Peshawar, disguised like a local, for Kabul, through the difficult terrains of Khyber Pass. On 23rd July, 1941, he was at the Indo-Afghan Border with a younger companion disguised as a deaf and dumb maulvi called Ziauddin Khan Lalpure. They portrayed that they were travelling to the holy shrine of Addashareef to pray for the cure of his illness of sudden deaf and dumbness. In Kabul, Netaji tried contacting the Russian as well as the German Embassies when the Germans responded. It took them a lot of time and Netaji had to bear the harsh winters of Kabul. Finally Subhas Chandra Bose was given an Italian passport in the name of Orlando Mozatta and he boarded a bus, crossed Russian borders to Moscow. He reached Moscow on 20th March, 1942. The next day he flew to Berlin, the capital of Germany. In Germany he stayed for quite some time. His journey to Japan by a German submarine is epic. He revamped his army in South East Asia. Azad Hind Fauj had base in Singapore, Malaysia, Sumatra (Java), Bangkok, Rangoon (Myanmar) and Taiwan.

Success Story of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose

First time, before Indian independence (1947), the Tricolour flag of Indian Independence was hoisted by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on 30th December, 1943, in Port Blair, Andaman. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are strategically located in the Indian Ocean between the Indian mainland, Myanmar, and Indonesia, and are close to important maritime routes. Moirang, near Imphal, Manipur, was the headquarters of INA. Indian National Army hoisted the Tricolour for the second time on Indian soil on 14th April, 1944. Then Netaji was the Commander in Chief of INA and the Honorary President of Indian Government recognized by 18 countries. Netaji’s patriotic speeches and songs would raise tides of inspiration in people. His charismatic leadership started pulling thousands of people to serve the nation. “Give me blood and I shall give you freedom”, Netaji’s slogan, charged up the Indian youth.
Even today, he is praised for his bravery by the world leaders.

In 2007, Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, visited Netaji’s house in Kolkata which has been converted to Subhas Chandra Bose Memorial. He spoke how Japan was moved by his leadership. Renkō-ji, a Buddhist temple in Tokyo, Japan, is assumed to be the purported location of the ashes of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

The End

Netaji’s disappearance still remains a mystery even though it is said that he died in a plane crash on 18th August, 1945, in Taiwan. There are incidents which make the whole story of his disappearance extremely doubtful and mysterious. The emotional outburst still continues even after years of independence. There are hidden archives amidst which lies buried the true story of the lost gem of our nation. Whether he died in the plane crash or he died later, he is immortal, living in the hearts of all Indians. The stories from life of Subhas Chandra Bose and his ideologies will keep on influencing us.
Dipannita Bhattacherya

6 thoughts on “On the Trail of Subhas Chandra Bose”

  1. A very moving and concise article charting the life of Netaji. Informative and emotional at the same time. Keep up the good work!

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