SMS campaign to unravel mystery

Demand for declassification of Bose documents

SMS campaign to unravel mystery

The Home Ministry feels making public Bose’s records will lead to law and order problem

Amidst conspiracy theories’ galore over the mystery surrounding the death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, which have dogged the nation’s psyche for decades, the national leader’s family has come forward to set things straight. The Bose family members hope a fresh campaign will help bring to light what happened to one of the most prominent figures of the Indian freedom struggle.

The mystery surrounding the reported death of Netaji, commander-in-chief of the Azad Hind Fauj or the Indian National Army (INA), in a plane crash over Taiwan in 1945 has been questioned not just by a section of the Bose family but also by scholars and researchers. The family believes that declassifying more than 100 files lying with various government ministries and agencies would help solve the mystery.

While efforts to have these files declassified for years have been in vain despite assurances to the effect from successive governments at the Centre, Netaji’s grand-nephew Chandra Kumar Bose and his branch of the family are going all out to bring to light what happened. The family has launched a campaign, where voters will send an SMS to their local MLA or MP, asking the elected representatives to raise the declassification issue in Parliament or the state Assembly.

Chandra told Deccan Herald that they believe the SMS campaign will put pressure on the local elected representatives, who will in turn persuade the government at the Centre and the state to declassify all secret files relating to Netaji. The campaign has been undertaken under the aegis of the Open Platform for Netaji (OPFN), in association with city-based NGO Right to Recall.
Established in 2012, OPFN has been relentlessly campaigning for the declassification of all secret files relating to Subhas, not just to unravel the mystery of his disappearance on August 18, 1945, but also to ensure that the history of the INA, which fought a decisive war of India’s independence against British imperialism is correctly written in text books across the nation.Chandra said that the OPFN has been relying heavily on efforts undertaken earlier by Mission Netaji, which includes a group of admirers and 

researchers on Netaji), and is spearheaded by Anuj Dhar, the author of two seminal books on the mystery, including India’s Biggest Cover-up, which has become a best-seller .

They have also been influenced by the findings of the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Enquiry, which categorically stated that Netaji did not die in the alleged air crash in 1945.

Dhar said in response to an RTI application he filed on behalf of Mission Netaji, the Prime Minister’s Office replied that it has as many as 33 files relating to Netaji, which are all marked ‘classified’. “There are 22 files directly related to Netaji’s disappearance but the PMO believes that contents of these files cannot be disclosed as it may affect relations with foreign countries. As long as the Congress is in power, it will be difficult to have these files declassified because they clearly have things to hide,” he said.

While long-standing conspiracy theories often lead to fresh ones, Dhar, however, is confident that his belief that the Congress will never bring out any file related to Netaji because Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had a definite role to play in the episode. “If there was nothing to hide why would there be the need to keep these from public eye? Why is the PMO not releasing the files it has in its possession? These questions have no answers,” he said.

The journalist-turned-author further said that apart from the 33 files with the PMO, there are more than 100 files relating to Netaji in various other government departments, including the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Ministry of External Affa­irs (MEA) and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B). The MHA has stated, in its reply to another RTI application,  that secret files on Netaji in its possession run to more than 70,000 pages, with many of these bearing the legend “top secret”.

“The ministry’s considered opinion was that making them public would lead to law and order problems across the country, especially in West Bengal,” Dhar said. He added that even the West Bengal government has 64 files relating to Netaji but the state administration has not obliged both Mission Netaji and the family.

Dhar had filed an RTI application on November 16, 2013 to the Chief Minister’s Office, the state home department and the state public information officer, but there has been no response.

Talking about the SMS campaign, Chandra said that even if around 10,000 people form each constituency sends an SMS to their MLA or MP, the pressure on the political leaders would be immense and they would be forced to take up the issue in the legislature and Parliament. “We believe around one-fourth of the residents from each constituency will participate in the campaign because Netaji is still a figure revered by people and they want to know what really happened,” he said.

Both Chandra and Dhar pointed out that declassification of files is not just a matter of rewriting history but also an issue against corruption, where the political class is made accountable and made to 

become transparent. “We are not just for declassification of Netaji files but all files that have been kept away from public eye. We believe that people have the right to know about major events in their nation’s history,” he said.

Chandra pointed out that in the 1970s and 1980s there have been efforts to have the Netaji files 

declassified. “The movement then was led by eminent scholar Samar Guha and my father Amiyanath Basu, who were both MPs. We realised that just one family is not enough to make the government sit up and take notice. So we need the support of people from across the country,” he said.

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