There are things that go down the annals of history only to be forgotten. Then, there are things that we tuck in the deep recesses of our minds to carry on with our lives.
Those events that are never forgotten but are left in a deep dark corner of our minds, often come out and scream for some attention, for some limelight, for justice, for exposure.
There are a multitude of such events in history of our country. Death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is one of them and yet another is the INA treasure controversy.
And mind it, they are not the only such events in our history. There are more! So many that often they raise a question – ‘Are we really that great a nation that was envisioned and built by our ancestors thousands of years ago?’
We at My India Facts, believe that it is the duty of every true India to dig deep in past and find the truth. Can we do that?
Let us take a peek into one such fragment of history that most of us probably do not even know. Some of us will even condemn the findings of those who dare to hunt for the truth through the labyrinths of past.
But we need to keep an open mind and understand that history is not always true. Many a times, history is written with propaganda in mind or perhaps to suppress the truth that might possibly taint those in power.
That fragment of history that we want to remember today and talk about is the INA Treasure controversy, which is named as the ‘First Ever Scam of Independent India’ by an independent author by the name Anuj Dhar.
The Elusive INA Treasure
It is said that the Indian National Army or the INA that fought the British to earn the independence of India, had at one point in time, amassed a wealth of epic proportions.
The said treasure was made up of diamonds, jewelry, gold and many other valuables. All these came in form of donations from the poor and the rich alike.
The way this wealth was amassed was unique in its own way. Affluent Indians who were settled in South-East Asian countries donated tremendous amounts of riches.
Colonel Hugh Toye – an officer of British Military Intelligence Department during the awful days of World War II – wrote in his book titled “Subhash Chandra Bose – The Springing Tiger” that people weighed Bose against gold on his 48th birthday.
Hugh says in his book that the celebrations continued for a week and rich Indians in Rangoon (which is now Yangon) gave donations worth INR 2 crores and nearly 80 kilograms of gold. Not just that, women lined up to offer their personal jewelry and many other valuables.
Those people – men and women held the view that the fight for freedom should not be fought on money borrowed from Japan and Germany.
What Happened to The INA Treasure?
Everything that cannot be proven is not necessarily false. If something is spoken of time and again, there has to be some truth and it all requires some digging until the truth in found.
Many tried and there are at least two people who wrote two books after extensive research. One of those two is Anuj Dhar and the other is Purabi Roy.
Anuj Dhar, in his book titled ‘India’s Biggest Cover Up’ terms the vanishing of the INA Treasure as ‘Independent India’s First Scam.’
The book which deals with the mysteries surrounding the Indian freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose says that the INA treasure was siphoned off by only four men at the end of World War II.
Anuj in his book also says that Nehru actually went on to hire one of these four men even though he was fully aware of his wrong doings.
What Is the Story Behind the Disappearance of INA Treasure?
Anuj, in his book concludes, with the help of confidential documents he managed to get from MEA (Ministry of External Affairs), that the INA Treasure was looted and the perpetrators were four men.
Of these four people, three were:
Munga Rama Murti – from Indian Independence League,
S. A. Ayer – publicity minister in the provisional government of Bose, and
Colonel John Frigges – the military attaché at Tokyo’s British Embassy.
Who was the fourth person? The fourth person was J. Murti – the brother of Munga Rama Murti.
The Murti brothers purchased two sedans and were seen openly riding them and living quite a luxurious life at the times when even the prosperous Japanese people were having financial hardships that the came down upon them because of the World War II.
According to Sir Benegal Rama Rau, the Murti brother were later caught because of their involvement in illegal dealing in United States’ dollars.
Sir Benegal Rama Rau was the head of Indian Mission in Tokyo. He was also the governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Rama Rau was in fact the longest serving RBI governor in history of India.
Rau actually informed New Delhi about the legal troubles of the Murti Brothers on December 4, 1947 but New Delhi did not revert with a reply that could be termed as ‘encouraging.’
Dhar in his book even quoted a series of secret notes that were exchanged between the MEA, New Delhi and the Indian Mission in Tokyo to reveal the fact that K. K. Chettur – another mission head, played a pivotal role in cracking the whole case of the loot perpetrated by the ‘gang of the four.’
In 1951, when S. A. Ayer – one of the four members of the loot – hastily returned to Japan at the commands of the ministry, Chettur became suspicious.
On May 21, 1951, Chettur wrote a letter to B. N. Chakravarty (who was then the secretary of Commonwealth Relations in New Delhi). In the letter Chettur mentioned that the sudden hurry over what is displayed as a holiday trip and the fact that Ayer is a guest of Munga Rama Murti, it appears that there is something more than what appears to the eyes.
In Chettur’s own words,
“As you are no doubt aware, there have been serious allegations against Rama Murti 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…”
Not just that, K. K. Chettur wasn’t really happy about the very fact that the ministry kept him in dark about the secret visit of Ayer and wrote in his letter to Chakravarty,
“I should have thought that in the circumstances, it was most essential that I should be kept in touch with what was happening, particularly in view of Ayer’s past history, his relationship with Rama Murti and the scandal connected with the disappearance of Netaji’s collections…”
Chettur Confronts Ayer Over INA Treasure
Unhappy with the events that unfolded, Chettur decided to confront Ayer at the Indian Mission. Upon such confrontation, Ayer clearly denied that the treasure was worth millions.
Ayer however admitted that some of Netaji’s collections were saved and that the collection was merely some fused and melted ornaments made of gold that could be valued at about a lakh rupee at the most.
Chettur later sent an intimation to New Delhi on 20, October 1951 stating that the Indian Mission took possession of whatever treasure was left after the loot by Ayer and Rama Murti.
In a very top-secret report sent to Subimal Dutt (Foreign Secretary), Chettur mentioned that Rama Murti returned 20,000 Yen and Ayer returned some gold lumps. However, the money returned by Murti was in form of notes of ¥ 1,000, which were of recent origin and they were not the notes that existed back in 1945. He also mentioned in the report that the gold lumps returned by Ayer were also of recent origin.
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The Taj Mahal Conspiracy – an article based on facts that only someone blind to alternate explanations or someone enslaved by narration of popular history will reject as a propaganda. It is about time that people re-look into the long-established narrative because, at the end of the day, we deserve to know the truth (if hidden).
November Note, Ayer’s Fame and Murti’s Japanese Bride
Dhar’s book comes up with some startling and quite unbelievable evidences. For instance, it mentions of a Top-Secret report by R. D. Sathe. Sathe, who later became the Foreign Secretary, sent the report to the Ministry of External Affairs on November 1, 1955. The report was meant for the pursual of the Prime Minister Nehru.
The report was titled “INA treasure and their handling by Messrs Ayer and Ramamurti.” R. D. Sathe primarily drew conclusions from Chettur’s report (which had startling inputs that were obtained from the Japanese government about INA treasure) and clearly agreed that the “activities of Mr. Ayer in Japan were very suspicious.”
In his report, Sathe clearly stated that the suspicions about improper disposal of the INA treasure are intensified if someone looks at the comparative affluence of Rama Murti in 1946 when rest of the Indian nationals living in Tokyo were going through great hardships.
Sathe also states in his report that yet another reason to believe that the treasure was improperly disposed was the “sudden blossoming out into an Oriental expert of Col Figges, the Military Attache of the British mission in Tokyo, and the reported invitation extended by the colonel to Ramamurti to settle down in UK.”
While Sathe’s report was from the wee hours of 1955, what’s more disturbing was the note dated November 5, 1951. The note carried Nehru’s signature and there was a noting from the Foreign Secretary that the “PM has seen the note.”
Remember, Chettur sent a report to the Foreign Secretary on 20th October 1951? Nehru actually saw and even signed a note against Chettur’s report but did nothing or rather decided to play it down.
On the contrary, instead of ordering a full-scale investigation against Ayer or Rama Murti, Nehru actually went and met Ayer, giving him a warm welcome upon his return from Tokyo.
As if that wasn’t enough, Nehru actually went on to appoint Ayer (in 1953) as the adviser for publicity of his flagship 5-year plan!
Author Anuj Dhar went on tracing the antecedents of the people involved in INA treasure loot and found that Colonel Figges was, at the marriage of the younger brother of J. Murti, “An Honored Guest.”
In the meantime, Murti, who was settled in Japan and married a Japanese woman, offered something more to raise eyebrows. The jewelry that his Japanese wife wore were all Indian jewelry and many people alleged that those jewelries came from INA treasure.
In 1952 however, Rama Murti and his Japanese wife were forced to shift back to India because of their involvement in tax evasion case. Rama Murti’s younger brother however stayed back in Japan and went on to open a restaurant specializing in Indian cuisine in Tokyo.
Out there in the United Kingdom, Figges has earned the title “Sir John Figges – a leading authority on Oriental porcelain.”
Note: This is one of the several articles related to or about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Over the coming days and months, we will present several other articles to the immortal hero who was not given his rightful place in history. None of the articles will resonate with the popular history that you might have studied in your text books.
Note: While this article is written on the basis of Anuj Dhar’s book, there are different accounts of Netaji’s life and the INA treasure. They come from different sources, and they claim without an iota of doubt that Netaji was alive well after 1945 and lived in India only to breathe his last breath on January 2, 1977. We will also provide summaries of those findings in the following articles on Netaji Series.