Home Feature Dehradun & the ‘other’ Bose – Rash Behari!

Dehradun & the ‘other’ Bose – Rash Behari!


By Kulbhushan Kain
Chandni Chowk is Delhi’smost iconic market. From its main thoroughfare, hundreds of narrow lanes and by-lanes fork out like a spider’s web. One can buy everything here – a pin, sarees, cell phones, heroin, cars!

You name it – and you can buy it in Chandni Chowk.

On 23rdDecember, 1912, Viceroy Lord Hardinge and the Vicereine were making their ceremonial entry to the new capital, Delhi, through Chandni Chowk. They sat on an elephant and it slowly headed to its destination.

Thousands had gathered to greet their new ruler, among them five young men. As the entourage reached Dhulya Katra, near Chandni Chowk, one of the men, Basanta Biswas, who was disguised as a woman, threw a powerful bomb.

The bomb peppered Lord Hardinge’s back with shrapnel but killed the servant who was holding the parasol behind him.

In the manhunt that followed, Amir Chand, Avadh Behari, Bal Mukund and Basanta Biswas were rounded up and later hanged.

But the most daring and charismatic of them all, Rash Behari Bose, managed to escape the police dragnet, thanks to his flawless disguise.

Bose was born in the village Subaldaha, Bengal, in 1886 and after unsuccessful attempts to join the Indian Army found a clerk’s job with the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun.

In Dehradun, he stayed in a house in Ghosi Gali, next to Paltan Bazaar!

His attempted assassination of Hardinge triggered a massive manhunt for him. Ironically, it was while on the run that he organised one of his most audacious plans, an uprising on the lines of the 1857 Revolt -The Ghadar Mutiny in 1915.

The plot failed and with the authorities on his heels and a bounty on his head, Bose decided he was no longer safe in India.

Disguising himself as Priya Nath Tagore, a relative of Rabindranath Tagore who lived in a palatial house in Dehradun, Bose set sail for Japan from the Port of Kolkata on 12 May, 1915

He never came back to India.
Today, while many have heard about Netaji Bose, few have heard of the “other Bose”- Rash Behari Bose.
Yet in Japan, his story has become something of a legend.

After reaching Japan, Behari Bose lay low and took refuge in the basement of Nakamuraya Bakery in the bustling Shinjuku district in Tokyo. The bakery was owned by the wealthy Soma family, Aizo and Kotsuko Soma, who were sympathisers of the Indian cause. Bose later married their elder daughter, Toshiko, and became a Japanese citizen, which gave him protection from arrest.

The couple had two children before disaster struck.
Toshiko died from pneumonia in 1925. She was only 27 years old.

When Toshiko’s mother asked him to remarry, Bose replied, “Toshiko is always with me as she was during my lovely 8 years of marriage. Moreover, my life is not mine – it is offered to my native country.”

When World War II started, Rash Behari with the help of Captain Mohan Singh, and Sardar Pritam Singh, formed the Indian National Army. On 1 September, 1942, the INA was formally established with Rash Behari Bose as President. By then he was nearing his sixties, and his health was in bad shape. A selfless patriot, he passed on the baton to the young and charismatic Subhas Chandra Bose in Singapore on 2 July, 1943. Subhash Chandra Bose changed its name to Arzi-Hukumat-E-Azad Hind Fauj, or simply Azad Hind Fauj.

Rash Behari Bose died in 1945 just before India gained independence from British rule in 1947 — a victory he’d worked his whole life to achieve.

Sadly, few people realise the huge impact Bose had on the freedom struggle. No one can deny the contribution of Netaji Bose – but the historians, media, and politicians have made us feel that the gap in the contributions between the two Boses is huge. It is not.

In Japan, Rash Behari Bose was held in high esteem. According to Elizabeth Eston and Lexi Kawabe, the authors of “Rash Behari Bose: The Father of the Indian National Army”, when Bose came to Japan, only educated Japanese knew about India, which back then was known as “Tenjiku,” meaning “land of heavens” in Japanese.

People dubbed Behari Bose “Tenrai”, which means a heavenly being, according to Eston and Kawabe!

In Japan, his legacy is also immortalised in a well-loved curry dish at Nakamuraya Restaurant, which Behari Bose is said to have popularised during his decades-long struggle for Indian independence. It is said that Bose missed his “Murgir Jhol” (thin chicken curry) while in Japan and that he started cooking it himself. After his wife’s early demise, a devastated Bose partnered with his father-in-law to set up a small restaurant on top of the bakery that would serve Indian-style curry and rice that came to be known as “Nakamuraya Curry (Karii)”.

It still tops the charts of leading Tokyo restaurants and is part of a “Murugi” (chicken) lunch with 6 billion servings annually! Menu cards refer to this curry as ‘A curry born out of the Indian Revolution’.

He died in 1945. During the last few days of his life, while in hospital, the doctor asked Behari Bose about his appetite. He smiled and said, “What I want the most is my “Nakamuraya’s Indian curry’’.

My father used to get our clothes stitched from Fazal Tailors in Ghosi Gali. I have been hundreds of times to it. Half the time – I have been there to get my clothes stitched. The other half I have gone looking for the house in which Rash Behari Bose once stayed.

The house continues to elude me. I continue to look for it. Like the British never found Rash Bihari Bose, even I may not be able to find the house in which he stayed.
After all, he was the prime master of disguise!

(Kulbhushan Kain is an award winning educationist with more than 4 decades of working in schools in India and abroad. He is a prolific writer who loves cricket, travelling and cooking. He can be reached at kulbhushan.kain @gmail.com)