Netaji files: Nehru awarded man who stole
Recently declassified documents have confirmed previous claims that the INA treasure was looted.
| TNN | Feb 5, 2016,NEW DELHI: Recently declassified documents have confirmed previous claims that the INA treasure was looted. Correspondence between Tokyo and New Delhi between 1951 to 1955 shows that the Nehru government was aware of the embezzlement of the treasure but seem to have chosen to look the other way.
Top secret files at National Archives shows government officials suspected two ex-aides of Netaji Subhash Bose. One of the aides was awarded and made publicity adviser of PM Nehru's flagship Five Year Plans. The treasure was estimated to be worth $700,000. The treasure "scam" was first detailed by author Anuj Dhar in his 2012 book "India's biggest cover-up".
On May 21, 1951, Tokyo Mission head K K Chettur wrote to commonwealth relations secretary B N Chakravarty raising suspicions about two key Bose aides - propaganda minister S A Ayer and head of the Indian Independence League in Tokyo, Munga Ramamurti. "As you are no doubt aware, there have been serious allegations against Ramamurti with regard to the misappropriation of the funds of the late Indian Independence League, as also the personal property of the late Subhas Chandra Bose, consisting of considerable quantities of diamonds, jewellery, gold and other valuable articles. Rightly or wrongly, Ayer's name has also been associated with these charges...''
K K Chettur wrote on 20 October 1951 that the Japanese government confidentially informed the Mission that Bose had with him "substantial quantity of gold ornaments and precious stones, but that he was allowed to carry only two suitcases on the ill-fated flight.''
The Tokyo Mission head's report further stated that Bose "must have carried very much more that has now been handed over to us [by Murti and Ayer], and even if allowances are made for the loss of the part of the treasures when the plane crashed". Saying that "Netaji's collection weighed more than himself", the report added that "there is a party here who has seen the (treasure) boxes in Ayer's rooms and who was also to buy off the contents of these few boxes. What happened to these boxes subsequently is a mystery as all that we have got from Ayer is 300 gms of gold and about 260 rupees worth of cash.''
On 1 November 1955 a further secret report on the issue was made in the ministry of external affairs for the perusal of the PM, who had been kept in the loop throughout. Titled "INA treasure and their handling by Messrs Ayer and Ramamurti", this report was authored by R D Sathe, confirmed, "Mr Iyer's activities in Japan have been rather suspicious".
Sathe also added, "Suspicion regarding the improper disposal of the treasure is thickened by the comparative affluence in 1946 of Mr Ramamurti when all other Indian nationals in Tokyo were suffering the greatest hardships. Another fact which suggests that the treasures were improperly disposed of are a sudden blossoming out into an Oriental [word unclear] expert of Col Figges, the military attache of the British mission, and the reported invitation extended by the colonel to Ramamurti to settle down in the UK." The note carried the PM's signature with date 5 Nov 1951 and the noting of the foreign secretary that "the PM has seen this note".
While Ramamurti continued to flourish in Japan for a while, Ayer was given a warm welcome by the PM when he met him in New Delhi on his return. His involvement in the loot of the treasure did not seem to have prevented Nehru from appointing Ayer in 1953 as an adviser for the publicity of his flagship Five Year Plans.