After an hour-long interaction with 35 members of Netaji’s family, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he sees “no reason to strangle history” and “those nations who forget history also lose the power to create it”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being presented with a portrait of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose by the latter’s family members at his official residence in New Delhi on Wednesday
Trumped by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who announced declassification of files on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose last month, the BJP government at the Centre followed suit by announcing staggered declassification of secret files that it has in its possession.After an hour-long interaction with 35 members of Netaji’s family, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he sees “no reason to strangle history” and “those nations who forget history also lose the power to create it”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister declared that the process of declassification of files will begin on January 23, next year, that happens to be the birthday of Netaji.According to speculations, the disclosure of secret files could lead to embarrassment of the Congress party for keeping Netaji’s life, particularly those relating to his mysterious disappearance, under a veil of secrecy.Grapevine also claims that it could put a question mark on India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru’s conduct vis-a-vis Netaji.However, to the credit of Congress, it has already made clear that it has nothing to fear about any disclosure and the government should take its own call on declassification.Incidentally, the decision comes as a volte-face by PM Modi’s office, as only in November 2014, toeing the line of previous governments, it refused to disclose Netaji files citing that “the files would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries”.In reply to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal, the PMO further said that these files are exempt from disclosure under section 8(1) (a) of the RTI Act.It says “information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state, relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence.”However, it remains unclear whether the Central government will declassify all the files it has on Netaji in its possession or will keep some files wrapped in the secret cover that could keep the controversy surrounding Netaji’s disappearance simmering.As per the RTI reply, PMO has 39 secret files in its possession. Besides, there are some more files that are in the possession of the union home ministry. A decision will be taken once the union home ministry finishes vetting all the secret files.Modi also agreed to the suggestion of Netaji’s family to initiate the process of getting hold of files with foreign governments and declassify them too.Modi told the family members that he would not only write to the governments of foreign nations that were visited by Netaji, but also take up the matter during his meetings with foreign leaders, beginning with Russia in December.As Netaji had travelled to several countries including China, Taiwan, Singapore and Russia during tumultuous period close to India’s independence, the PM is expected to write to all these countries soon. He may also write to UK that had most of the information, being the ruling colonial power.