A fresh communique from the Taiwan government to a judge in India has given a bizarre twist to the unsolved mystery of nationalist hero Subhash Chandra Bose's disappearance 58 years ago. Bose was one of the icons of India's nationalist movement. But unlike Mahatma Gandhi, who championed non-violence, he believed in armed uprising. After escaping from house arrest in Calcutta in January 1941, Bose secretly met Adolf Hitler in Germany and sought his help to free India from British rule. When the Nazi leader declined, he turned to the Japanese. He arrived in Singapore via Tokyo and, with Japanese help, raised the Indian National Army (INA), mainly from Indian soldiers of the British army who had been captured by the Japanese in Singapore. The INA advanced to north-eastern India but the British ultimately crushed the ill-equipped, ragtag force. The defeated troops were driven back into Burma, thousands dying of dysentery, malnutrition or malaria on the way. Bose himself was reportedly killed on August 18, 1945, aboard a Japanese bomber which crashed seconds after takeoff from a military air base in Taipei en route to Moscow. But even today, 58 years after Bose vanished, the All India Forward Bloc, the political party founded by him, and millions of ordinary Indians, particularly in his home state of West Bengal, refuse to believe that he perished in the crash. After independence, the Indian government set up two high-powered inquiry commissions to probe Bose's death. Both investigations concluded that he died in the plane crash and the ashes lying in Tokyo's famous Renkoji temple were indeed his. But the Forward Bloc rejected the findings. In 2000, the party, which has three members in the national Parliament and 25 representatives in the provincial West Bengal legislative assembly, forced Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's government to launch a third full investigation. Justice Mukul Kumar Mukherjee, heading the latest probe, sought help from Taipei to unravel the mystery which has refused to die even after six decades. In a stunning disclosure earlier this month, the Taiwan government informed the commission that not a single plane, civil or military, crashed at Taipei airport from August 14 to October 25, 1945. The revelation has demolished the plane-crash theory about the fate of Bose, who is still venerated by Bengalis as Netaji, or The Leader. The information, sent by Lin Ling-san, Minister of Transport and Communications, says: 'After reviewing all records during the period from 14th August to 25th October 1945, no plane ever crashed at Old Matsuyama [now Taipei domestic airport] carrying Subhash Chandra Bose.' According to the message, the civil aeronautics administration went through old records with a fine toothcomb. It mentioned that a transport plane carrying 26 passengers crashed between September 23 and 26, 1945, at Mount Trident, Taitung. The dead were American POWs released from Japanese camps in the Philippines. The minister ruled out Bose's presence on the ill-fated plane, while saying that United States authorities might still have the passenger list. Justice Mukherjee has accused US, British and Russian intelligence of denying the commission full access to information about Bose available in their files. Nearly 800 Indian government files which might yield information about controversy surrounding Bose are yet to be declassified and, despite efforts by successive inquiry commissions, are still off-limits. And although Bose is a cult figure, in Indian official records he is still a 'war criminal', as the charges made during British rule have not been withdrawn yet. Indian historian Sitnanshu Das says that the Japanese probably faked the air crash so that their generals and their ally Bose could disappear without the Allies hunting them. According to Das, Bose tried to make his way back to India via Russia. But he was caught and thrown into jail by the authorities when he entered Russia. And by the time Moscow realised that Bose was in their custody, the Russians were not willing to admit that they had imprisoned him and left him to die in jail.