Aug 18th. This is the day of Great Escapes in Indian history. Two amazing and daring escapes which decidedly changed the future of India forever.
The first was by Shivaji, who escaped the Agra Fort on Aug 18th from the clutches of the Mughal tyrant Aurangzeb. The second was the escape of Netaji – Subhash Chandra Bose – by faking his own death via the plane crash.
Shivaji Escapes from the Agra Fort
In 1666, Shivaji received a letter from Aurangzeb, the tyrant Mughal ruler. It was a time when Shivaji was annexing kingdoms and defeating every ruler in sight. It was an invitation from Aurangzeb to Shivaji to come and meet. Shivaji knew intuitively that it was a trap. but he still went because he didnt want to come across as someone who was scared of the Mughal tyrant. So, he went to Agra with his son Shambhuji. He reached there to meet the king on his 50th birthday on May 12th in 1666.
On entering the hall, he offered gifts to the reticent and scheming king. Not a word for the brave Maratha’s welcome or enquiry of his journey. Instead the Maratha king and his son were taken to the back of the hall and arrested. The aim was to take Shivaji to Kandahar in order to consolidate the empire further.
While being emprisoned, Shivaji got all the information he needed about the going-ons in the kingdom. On July 22, 1666 Aurangzeb was leaving Agra for Shikar. This was the time that Shivaji was waiting for.
In the run up to the escape from the imprisonment (under the watch of Faulad Khan, the Kotwal of Agra), Shivaji made sure that his contingent – which had accompanied him and arrested as well – was released. For this he feigned illness and requested the release of his men. Aurangzeb agreed. These men, instead of going back to his fort, went and settled in various towns which would eventually be the route that Shivaji was to take post-escape.
In the next step, Shivaji requested Aurangzeb to allow him to send sweets and gifts to beggars and poor and offerings to temples for his well being.
While Sambhaji went out in one of the sweet basket, Shivaji disguised as a poor fakir or labourer and escaped carrying the sweet basket. Niraji took his place dressed at Shivaji. Shivaji disguised himself as a Brahmin priest and escaped along with the party of Pandit Kavindra Paramananda!
Shivaji held a ceremony honouring Pandit Kavindra Paramananda who had come to meet him. He also gave away his elephants and horses after announcing that he had decided to become a fakir. He then dressed up as a fakir. His close associate and trustee, Niraji Raoji, dressed himself as Shivaji and emerged from his house, mingled with the other pandits and then escaped from Agra.
Shivaji’s escape time and date is unknown. Despite at least a 1000 guards on duty to keep a check on him, the Maratha tiger escaped!
Maratha records say he escaped on Aug 17, while a letter from Rajasthan suggests it was the 18th. The official records of Aurangzeb – Alamgirnama – say it was Aug 19th. It may have been that Shivaji actually escaped on the 17th, the escape was discovered on the 18th, and the Mughals accepted that he had indeed escaped on the 19th after looking for him around enough. A letter dated September 3rd 1666 suggests that.
“When the day was four gharis old, the news came that Shivaji has escaped, even when a thousand men were on guard duties. That day no one could tell when precisely he escaped & through which section of the guard (chowki). After deliberation it was concluded that Shivaji escaped through the basket.”
It is said that instead of going West to his own fort, Shivaji took the route to North.
The most probable route as per historical Maratha records seems to have been as per the map below.
On his death bed, while remembering Shivaji’s escape, Aurangzeb lamented:
‘A moment’s carelessness on his part in allowing Shivaji to escape had led to no end of distractions.’
This one man Shivaji – was able to put a halt to Aurangzeb’s ambitions of completely taking over India and enforcing Islam through the length and breadth of India. Between him and Guru Gobind Singh, these two amazing men altered the history of India forever.
Netaji Escapes the World By Faking Death
Netaji was in Japan in 1945 when the World War II took a different turn. In retaliation to the Pearl Harbor in 1941, US nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug 6 and 9th, 1945. It was at that time that Netaji decided to move his base elsewhere. And to camouflage his plan and execute a flawless escape, he faked a plane crash. That plane crash happened on August 18th, 1945!
It was finally in 2005 that the Taiwanese Government officially announced – no air crash ever happened in Aug 1945!
“During the period August 14 to October 25, 1945, no evidence shows that one plane had ever crashed at the old Matsuyama Airport (now Taipei Domestic Airport) carrying Mr Subhas Chandra Bose”, Justice Mukherjee said quoting an e-mail sent by Lin Ling-San, Minister of Transportation and Communication, Taiwan government, to Anuj Dhar, a journalist.
The man who was indeed responsible for India’s freedom in the real sense – made good his escape using a mindboggling facade. Of Death!
There is enough evidence that Netaji then escaped to Russia and was held prisoner in Siberia for some years. Before he came back to India.
Given the evidence now available, Netaji remained in hiding in India as Gumnami Baba. As per journalist, Anuj Dhar, a researcher on Netaji, despite the hiding, Netaji was probably influencing the world events in South East Asia in a big way!