After a marathon exercise involving the home ministry, Intelligence Bureau and top bureaucrats, the P.V. Narasimha Rao government in February 1995 had decided to defer the decision to bring back the mortal remains of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
These remains were lying at the Renkoji Temple in Tokyo. According to a document among the digitised files released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday a "proposal to bring back the mortal remains of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose" was deferred by the cabinet committee on political affairs which put off a decision on three alternatives suggested to it by the home ministry.
The suggestions, which had the approval of the then home minister Shankarrao Chavan, had suggested asking the temple to retain the ashes with an offer to raise maintenance expenses, bring back the ashes to India or keep them at the Indian mission in Tokyo.
Modi on Saturday declassified 100 files on Netaji following the government's decision to release files on the freedom fighter. Netaji had raised an army to fight the British and his death in an aircrash continues to be a mystery even after seven decades.
According to the document, the Rao government was confronted with a dilemma on whether to bring or not to bring Netaji's ashes.
The Tokyo-based Bose Academy, most of whose members were ageing veterans of the Indian National Army raised by Netaji, had informed the Rao government that it would be observing the last memorial prayer in 1995, the 50th death anniversary of Bose.
According to the document, while the home ministry offered three options to the government, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) said it was not advisable to bring the ashes at that stage as there was no such demand from any section of people.
The IB was also apprehensive about the reaction of the people of West Bengal, saying that they may view this as an attempt by the government to impose upon them the official view that Netaji had died in a plane crash on August 18, 1945 in Taihoku in Taiwan (then Formosa).
The home ministry had suggested that in case the government decides to bring back the ashes, people will have to be prepared for the move. It was also suggested that the members of the Bose family would be required to be persuaded.
The ministry suggested that efforts to convince people about bringing back the ashes should start with the Bose family, particularly Amia Nath Bose, a nephew of Netaji, who along with other Forward Bloc leaders including late Samar Guha were "vociferous sceptic" of the plane crash theory on the death of Netaji.
The minsitry also suggested approaching Netaji's wife and daughter, who were then staying in Germany through another nephew Sisir Bose.