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mystery of ashes

The mystery of the ashes of the Indian nationalist Netaji

Subhas Chandra Bose, known more commonly as just Netaji is a famous figure in the Indian nationalist movement. During the second world war he pursued a number of routes to try and get the British out of Indian, first courting the Germans and then the Japanese however when his military campaign didn’t work, he decided to fly to the Soviet Union to see if he could get assistance from them. His plane was purported to have crashed in Taiwan, although many Indians at the time (and still to this day) don’t believe the body that was cremated was that of their leader.

The ashes now cause some controversy, they are kept in the Renkoji Temple in Tokyo and the monks believe they are the real ashes and presumably so do the Japanese government. So when there is a state visit from Indian to Japan, the Japanese ask if a visit to the temple to see the cremation urn should be put on the agenda.

The current Indian PM Mr Modi has decided not to visit, for fear of stoking up controversy. A commission was set up to decide upon the origin of the ashes: it concluded that the ashes are actually that of a Taiwanese solider, Irchiro Okura, who died of natural causes and was cremated in August 1945.

A letter from the priest of Renkoji temple on November 23, 1953, to then PM Jawaharlal Nehru, said: “I, a stranger to the late Netaji, was asked to keep the ashes by people who were strangers to me including Indians of whom I had never heard.”  This letter was cited as the reason for doubting the authenticity.

Previous Indian Prime Minsters’ have visited the temple but rarely in the last decade.  The family of Mr Bose declared the Prime Minster is in favour of DNA testing.

Now usually DNA testing won’t work due to temperatures destroying all the DNA. However, due to the cremation technique (probably open air) and the way the remains are treated (not powderised) there could be a chance the identity could be revealed…

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