PM releases 100 secret files on Netaji

No new evidence to suggest Bose survived plane crash in 1945.

January 24, 2016 12:19 am | Updated November 17, 2021 03:06 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi going through one of the 100 declassified files on the mystery over the death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi going through one of the 100 declassified files on the mystery over the death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the first set of 100 declassified files pertaining to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at the National Archives of India here on Saturday in the presence of members of the Bose family.

The government plans to release in the public domain 25 declassified files each month.

The release of the first set coincides with the 119th birth anniversary of the eminent freedom fighter and comes months before West Bengal goes to the polls. Bose family members thanked the Prime Minister for declassifying the files.

The files do not seem to throw up any new evidence suggesting the >freedom fighter survived the plane crash in Taihoku, now in Taiwan, on August 18, 1945.

Here are the allegations made by Samar Guha on the Khosla Commission enquiry in a letter to Indira Gandhi.

A cabinet note of February 6, 1995, said that while the government accepted the plane crash theory on Bose’s death, it wasn’t advisable to bring back his ashes from Japan. The government went with the Intelligence Bureau’s view: “If the ashes are brought back to India, the people of West Bengal are likely to construe it as an imposition on them of the official version of Netaji’s death.”

Guha also alleges that the plane crash could not have happened at the spot.

The theory that he died in the crash was the version of his Indian National Army associates and was also accepted by the Nehru government.

However, this may not yet put to rest speculation that the freedom fighter outlived the crash.

A section of the Bose family, and many in Bengal, have for decades held that the whole truth of Bose’s disappearance isn’t out yet.

Politically, the declassification may earn the BJP some goodwill in the poll-bound State, where Bose is a legend.

Appropriating other legacies

The release of the declassified files may not help the BJP in concrete terms in poll-bound West Bengal as it has hardly any presence there.

This apart, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already scored a political point months ago by releasing the files in the custody of the State government.

Another tacit political point made by the Union government is that it is seeking to do justice to the memory of Bose by declassifying documents that the Congress governments held on to tightly.

Faced with the >main rival Congress claiming the legacy of the freedom struggle, the present regime, observers and critics say, is looking to appropriate the legacies of freedom fighters other than Nehru by suggesting that the Congress sought to erase them.

The documents made public by the Prime Minister include 36 files of the Prime Minister’s Office, 18 files of the Ministry of Home Affairs and 46 files from the Ministry of External Affairs from the period 1956 to 2003.

These can be accessed on or seen by the public at the National Archives till February 15, 2016.

Declassification of Netaji Files

>Nehru persuaded to delay statement on death

Officials feared that Opposition might use it for propaganda purposes as elections were fast approaching

>Netaji was not on list of ‘war criminals’

Imperial War Museum record says Bose was but regarded as a traitor

>Nehru tried to help widow

Among the files released is a series of official exchanges revealing the govt’s attempts to support the family in Vienna.

>Netaji's daughter calls for DNA testing

His daughter, Anita Pfaff, says the controversy over his death can be put to rest only if a DNA test is done on his remains.

>Reluctantance over bringing his ashes home

The Nehru govt. had taken custody of Netaji's ashes but was reluctant to bring them home as the family refused to accept his death.

>Netaji's family welcomes declassification

The two estranged factions of his family welcomed the move even as they maintained their differences over the details of his death.

>Links with various countries in spotlight

The Netaji papers revealed unverified letters and reports regarding Netaji’s ties with these countries.

>Congress, BJP exchange barbs over Netaji files

The declassification of files on Netaji triggered a war of words between the Congress and the ruling BJP.

Also read: The Netaji Files: From The Hindu's archives

From his curious disappearence in 1941 to the air crash in 1942 in which he was announced dead and the crash in 1945, there seem to be loose ends that many hope declassification of the State and Central intelligence files will tie up. Here is a look at how The Hindu reported on some of these events > Read here

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