Book review: "India’s Biggest Cover-up" by Anuj Dhar

Book title: India’s Biggest Cover-up

Author: Anuj Dhar
Category: History
Print edition: Vitasta (ISBN: 9380828691, EAN: 9789380828695), Pages: ~445
E-book edition: Amazon.com Kindle (ASIN: B008CDVRWW), Size: ~8546 KB
Online availability: InfibeamFlipkartVitasta

There are many books around on the Subhas Bose death mystery, but Anuj Dhar’s India’s Biggest Cover-up stands out from the rest, due to three reasons. One; it is new. The author weeds out fables from the mystery and delves deep into the subject. Two; his premises are backed by logic, findings by evidences, and writing by reason. He also presents an action plan to resolve the mystery, something which Shivraj Patil ‘advisedly’ omitted in his ATR (Action Taken Report) on the Mukherjee Commission report. Three; the very title of the book! Dhar takes the lid off the longstanding plane crash myth and in doing so, calls a spade a spade. He uncloaks some of the shoddy national leaders and officials who have been lying to the nation to lead us to believe that Bose was killed long back in a plane crash. Not surprisingly, the list includes India’s first Prime Minister and even the would-be President! I suppose, that justifies the book title.
The book is a chronicle of different events in the mystery organised meaningfully into different chapters. Generally, such a work based on the past can be dreary but this one makes the reading as easy and engaging as it can be. Past and present day events are skilfully ran up together as in a thriller. To start with, Dhar flails the plane crash theory on its head by laying out evidences against it one after another. I don’t think there would be too many punters for the plane crash story after reading the book.
Rather than being an author, Dhar assumes the role of a moderator, considering different views and opinions in great detail. He does not assent to the popular fabrications to drive home his point. All of the Bose mystery stories we have heard in the past were an admixture of facts and myths. But Dhar demonstrates the highest level of self-worth and truthfulness to his work by rebuffing ‘manipulated proof’ that doesn’t appear cooked up on the first look. His sieve separates the believable part from the confusing claims, evident from his explanation – against popular belief – that the monk seen by Nehru’s bier was not Bose.
Justice Mukherjee only recommended the government to probe the Russian connection of the mystery. But here is a man who has taken the trouble to follow Bose’s trail and boy, hasn’t he got fantastic results! Dhar even springs a surprise by showing the photograph of a high profile meeting of 1960s attended by a ‘Bose look-alike’, who is yet to be identified! Regarding the Bhagwanji angle, he presents the stories told by the baba disciples and tries to find matches from historical events. He displays great poise in dealing with beliefs about Bhagwanji, without going overboard.
Dhar is not just an author, but a researcher in true sense; and his work is not just a book, but a well compiled piece of history. Dhar also exposes a good mound of documents based on which he deduces his views, all logical and factual. Dhar is no Pied Piper; instead, he assists the readers to use their own common sense to draw conclusions. This is where the book excels. Now the most important question – how would I rate this book? I can say with confidence that in terms of ‘completeness’, only one thing would contain more details on the Bose mystery – the quarantined information lying in our government archives. In one’s avidity for more information on the Bose mystery, India’s Biggest Cover-up would remain ‘the best vade mecum’ on the subject. And I am sure every reader would thirstily long for the day the vaulted truth comes out in public domain.
Note: Anuj Dhar is a good friend of mine, but this review is not influenced by our friendship. What you just read is my personal opinion after going through the Kindle edition of the book. Afterall, even the plane crash theory supporters would switch sides once they get to see the evidences Anuj presents in the book.
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