Disclosure of the files related to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose turned down
In reply to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Prime Minister’s Office has declined to provide the copies of the files related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The reply says that disclosure of documents contained in these files would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries and hence are exempt from disclosure under the RTI Act. In the past few years, many requests have been received to know about the circumstances in which Netaji had disappeared. They were all turned down on the ground of national security and relations with foreign states.
The PMO has informed that it has 41 files related to Netaji of which 2 have been de-classified. The reply says that:-
1. Four ‘Top Secret’ files are held by it, including a miscellaneous correspondence with and about the widow and daughter of Netaji, transfer of his ashes to India and two files on the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry looking into his death / disappearance.
2. Twenty files held by it are classified as ‘Secret’, including one related to acquisition of Jankinath Bhavan - the birth place of Netaji - by the then Orissa government, five files from the late 1960s on the appointment of an inquiry committee to go into the circumstances of the “death” of Netaji, correspondence with and about his wife and daughter, another inquiry commission to look into the treasure of INA, two references from Samar Guha, MP, on his disappearance, Bharat Ratna award to Netaji and a number of files on his death / disappearance among others.
3. The rest of the files are categorised as ‘Classified’, which include issues related to his mortal remains kept in Rankoji temple in Japan, while on the rest no particular subject is mentioned.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, who filed the RTI application, claimed that the public interest definitely overweighs the protected as several commissions have been formed by the Centre to probe the mystery behind the death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Many researchers and supporter’s of Netaji have demanded to de-classify the files related to Netaji. During a visit to Netaji’s birthplace Cuttack on the eve of Netaji’s 117th birth anniversary in January 2014, the then BJP president Rajnath Singh had reportedly said that the entire country is impatient to know how Netaji died and under what circumstances.
Decades after the disappearance of Netaji, is it not the opportune time that all such matters be brought before the public? The country should adopt a time frame declassification policy to make all the documents public after say, 40 or 50 years.