National

PMO refuses to share Netaji files

NDA toes the UPA line

Toeing the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) line, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has refused to make the files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose public, saying the revelations would “prejudicially affect” relations with foreign countries.

The Prime Minister’s Office has shared only a list of 41 such files.

In the run-up to the general elections, the then BJP president and present Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in January asked the UPA government to reveal the mystery behind Netaji’s death. “The entire country is impatient to know how Netaji died and under what circumstances,” he said at a book release function.

Request declined

However, in its response to an RTI application by activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal filed about 14 months ago, the PMO has declined to share copies of the files.

The PMO has shared a list of files created from 1953 to 2000, the last two “Top Secret” files being on Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry report. The other two top secret papers are on correspondences with and about Netaji’s widow and daughter (last amended in 1971) and the transfer of his ashes to India (created in 1998).

In all, 21 files pertain to Netaji’s disappearance or circumstances of his death and the appointment of inquiry committees. Ten others are marked “Unclassified” but, the government has refused to reveal contents of even those files.

The list includes two files on the Indian National Army’s treasure, created in 1956-57 and 1988.

Among the files marked “Secret” is a 1991 document titled “Bharat Ratna Award – Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Subhas Chandra Bose, JRD Tata, Morarji Desai.”

The government has also kept secret information on acquisition of Jankinath Bhavan at Cuttack, the birth place of Netaji, by the Orissa government, and two references from Professor Samar Guha, MP, in 1990-91 on his disappearance.

The classified files include a 2006 file on Netaji’s mortal remains kept in Rankoji temple in Japan on behalf of the Indian government.

“The Central Public Information Officer did not specify the name of the country with which relations would be prejudicially affected,” said Mr. Agrawal, adding that in case it is the United Kingdom, then a much larger public interest is involved in making the revelations.

“Here in this case, public interest definitely overweighs the harm protected, where even several commissions/committees have been formed by the Union government to probe the mystery,” said Mr. Agrawal in his letter to the PMO’s Appellate Authority under the RTI Act seeking the disclosure of all Netaji files.

The BJP-led government had earlier declined to make public the Henderson Brooks-Bhagat report on the 1962 war with China.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 5:04:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pmo-refuses-to-share-netaji-files/article6649141.ece

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