Subhas Chandra Bose escaped from his ancestral house at 38/2, Elgin Road, Kolkata, on 17 January 1941 after midnight. The blue print of this daring journey from Kolkata to Asansol (later on changed to Gomoh) was made by him in consultation with his elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose. According to the information pieced together by the family members of Netaji, the other members of the Bose family kept in the loop were:
* Bivabati Bose, wife of Sarat Chandra Bose
* Dr Asoke Nath Bose, eldest son of Bivabati & Sarat Bose
* Dr Sisir Kumar Bose, Asoke’s younger brother who drove the car from Kolkata to Gomoh
* Dwijendra Nath Bose, son of Satish Chandra Bose, eldest brother of Subhas Bose
* Arabindo Bose, son of Suresh Chandra Bose, elder brother of Subhas who was younger to Sarat, Satish and others
* Ila Bose, daughter of Suresh Chandra Bose
* Meera Bose, wife of Dr Asoke Nath Bose
In all, 8 members of the extended Bose family were aware that Netaji had left his Elgin Road residence on 17th January after midnight. Of these, Sisir, Dwijendra and Arabindo were subsequently arrested and interrogated by police. Dwijendra in particular was subjected to torture, which left him partially crippled for the rest of his life.
As the plan was being given final shape, Netaji announced that he would be sitting on a long meditation and would not allow any visitors, even family members, to meet him. Dwijendra Nath, Arabindo, Sisir and Ila were the only persons allowed to enter his room. The cook of Elgin Road residence would push the food thali from under the curtain, without entering the room.
After Netaji was gone, Dwijendra, Arabindo and Ila used to eat the meals meant for their uncle and also used his personal toilet, in order to fool everybody, including the British guards and spies guarding the house. This tactic was continued till 26 January 1941, the day Netaji was supposed to be present in a court case. All these eight members could hide from the colonial rulers about his escape for more than one week.
In the meanwhile, the car driven by Dr Sisir Bose ran for the whole night on the 17th through G.T. Road and reached Barari, near Dhanbad, where Dr Asoke Nath Bose, an officer of “Barari Coke Works” used to stay. Netaji stayed in this house for the whole day and was supposed to board the Delhi-Kalka Mail from Asonsol on the night of 18th January.
Asoke Nath Bose advised his uncle to catch the Delhi-Kalka Mail from Gomoh instead of Asansol, mainly for two reasons. Asansol was a busy railway station, and it was possible that some people may recognize him. On the other hand, Gomoh was a quiet railway station. Secondly, the train would have reached Gomoh at around midnight, so there would have been even fewer passengers, Netaji was informed.
Dr Sisir Kumar Bose did not know the road from Barari to Gomoh properly. So, it was decided that newlywed Asoke Nath and Meera will be accompanying them in the car from Barari to Gomoh.
Thus ended the first phase of the historic great escape. Netaji boarded the train from Gomoh on 18 January 1941 around midnight.
Before he left, Subhas placed his nephews Arabindo and Dwijendranath Bose under a strict “oath of secrecy” not to reveal under any circumstance anything more than what they were instructed to. Arabindo’s part – as reported in the Indian Express of 28 January 1941 – was to provide a false lead that Bose was in Kolkata on 25 January 1941, when he had actually left days earlier.
“For 47 years I kept asking my late brother Aurobindo – ‘please tell me of your part in his escape from Calcutta in 1941?’ – but he wouldn’t say anything more than what was known publicly,” recalled Pradip Bose, younger brother of Aurobindo. In 1972, Dwijendra told Justice Khosla: “I cannot give you the entire story of his departure because I am under an oath to Netaji. Unless I am asked by Netaji, I cannot do that.”
(Netaji’s picture seen here is from Abid Hasan’s collection)
– Courtesy Anuj Dhar (Founder member of Mission Netaji)