Was Netaji a war criminal?
This is a question that is hunting the Netaji researchers of all hues, irrespective of their belief in the fate of Netaji. If Netaji would have been caught, would he be tried in an International Tribunal? Setting aside the fact the reaction that any such action would have evoked in India, logically also the possibility seems to be remote. From the content of Mudie's letter it seems that the British Government deliberated upon the possible fate of Subhas Bose and finally decided to do nothing about it
The question of labelling Netaji as a war criminal possibly arose from a dubious letter that Shyamlal Jain claimed in his testimony in front of Khosla Commission, was dictated to him by Nehru, who was addressing Attlee. Nehru mentioned Subhas as "Your War Criminal" in that letter. Even if we assume that the testimony is correct, it is extremely unlikely that it was the official position of the British Government. They knew the dangers of treating an immensely popular leader Subhas Chandra Bose as a war criminal. Subhas's reputation spread across many parts of Asia and even Africa. He was no Nazi. Other than the leftist or white supremacists and the brainless ones, nobody in their sane mind would consider Subhas Chandra Bose as a Nazi collaborator or perpetrator of crime against humanity. Therefore why would some of the followers of Bhagwanji or Netaji would declare that he was hiding because he was designated as a war criminal? What was the reason behind Atul Sen's letter to Nehru after he met Bhagwanji in Neemsar? Did Bhagwanji in any circumstance describe himself as hiding because of the fear of being tried as a war criminal? The answer is a resounding No. In OMA, the most authentic source, the dialogues between Mahakal and Charan or his letters never disclose any such fear. Mahakal in fact categorically wrote to Leela Roy that he had to remain "dead" and "lost" to the world at large because he had a mission, of performing the Mother's Work, that needed him to stay incognito and not come out. A master spy who could influence many global events, would not come out lest his activities would come under scrutiny, from media and public. Public life was out of bounds for such a person. He would have come out only when his mission was fulfilled. The war criminal tag is merely an illusion of some of the followers and detractors alike who extrapolated his hiding behind curtains as being born out of fear of being hounded by the allied forces. The exchanges that go back till 1967 reveal that there was no such official tag attached to Netaji - http://netajipapers.gov.in/pdfjs/web/viewer.html?filename=content/ministry-external-affairs-meauii1512767&part=1
Bhagwanji, for sure, thought that US and UK, with the complicity of Indian political leadership (which he termed as JLN Combine) would not mind killing him secretly. There are also documented evidence that he had protector bodyguards. It is a no brainer. a living Subhas Bose would have been too dangerous for US and UK alike. He was a live wire, who would have done everything possible to boot the foreign powers out from Asia. The superpowers were under constant threat from his leadership and influence in Asia. But they would never dare to try him publicly as the ramifications would be too serious. Therefore whether Netaji was in mortal danger from the allied forces - the answer is YES as many instances during the INA days prove that there were targeted attacks on Netaji by allied bombers and British spies. INA prisoners were eliminated secretly in Neelganj and Jhikhargacha. The British would not have repeated their error in conducting a public trial of the INA men. The threat to Netaji's life continued post his "death" and hence he was cautious. British made many attempts on the life of Subhas Bose even before he became Netaji, like the planned assassination in Turkey or Middle East by MI5, the deliberate assaults in Indian prison, to name a few. But they could never catch him and if they had caught him, they would never have dared to try him publicly as Mudie's letter show.