Writer of a new book on the controversy surrounding Subhas Chandra Bose's disappearance has made a stunning allegation that the UPA government is making files relating to the iconic freedom fighter's fate "disappear".
Anuj Dhar, whose book "No Secrets" makes a pitch for the declassification of the Bose files, says that he has come to know "at least four secret files that were in existence in the Internal Security Division (ISD) of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee days are no longer there".
He accuses the MHA of dealing with a matter of utmost public importance not according to facts but as per political considerations "dictated by a certain 'highest-level' authority".
He says that in March 2007, the then Union home secretary informed the Central Information Commission that disclosure of many Top Secret Bose-related documents "would lead to a serious law and order problem in the country, especially in West Bengal".
In a conversation with this writer, Dhar remarked thus: "The MHA subsequently stated that any decision concerning the disclosure of these records has to be taken at the highest level. Later that year, then Home Minister Shivraj Patil referred the issue of these records to the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. While the CCPA decided in favour of the release, only a few, mostly non-sensitive records were eventually released. I wonder which 'highest-level' authority came in the way."
Regarding the four ISD files Dhar says their disappearance indicates that "they have either been destroyed or moved with a view to concealing their very existence". Asked what could have been the motive, Dhar says, "Perhaps the Congress party is wary of a regime change in 2014."
Authorities must have taken note that recently members of Netaji's family met Narendra Modi over the issue of secret files and that last month Bengal BJP came out in favour of declassification, Dhar says and feels that this must have startled the UPA government.
He says that the UPA government has always been alarmed by the controversy relating to the fate of Bose and that explains the PMO alone stacking up 33 files about him.
According to Dhar, two of the missing MHA files are strangely titled "whereabouts of Subhas Chandra Bose". He says: "These files were opened in the 1970s and were updated at least up to the 1990s, though I won't be surprised if they were updated in recent years as well."
He claims that one of the files was numbered 12014/9/79-DIII(S&P).
The two other missing files relate to the so-called ashes of Subhas Chandra Bose kept in Renkoji Temple in Japan. Incidentally, the 2005 report of a commission of inquiry headed by former Supreme Court judge MK Mukherjee had discovered that the ashes in fact belonged to a Japanese soldier whose death was passed off as that of Netaji's.
The Mukherjee Commission concluded that Bose's reported death three days after Japan's surrender in the Second World War in August 1945 was a smokescreen that enabled Bose to escape to Soviet Russia. However, for want of documents the commission could not conclude whether or not Bose was in the USSR.
Dhar’s charge against the UPA government is that it 'arbitrarily' trashed the Mukherjee Commission report and made a mockery of democratic norms. "In the past too Congress-led governments hushed up and destroyed records relating to Bose's controversial death. The Nehru government withheld information that suggested that Bose could have been in Soviet Russia after his death. The Indira Gandhi government illegally destroyed Nehru's master file on the issue and many relevant records including a crucial report from the British government vanished into thin air by the time Vajpayee government came to power in the 1990s."
He adds that Bose's admirers had great hopes from the Vajpayee government, but these hopes too were dashed.
Dhar rues that the government's "blatant cover up" of the facts about Bose happened because the freedom fighter doesn't enjoy robust backing from any state or big political party at par with other national icons like Sardar Patel, Bhimrao Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh. He feels that if this matter were to pertain to some other national icon, it would have been settled decades ago under public pressure.
This is precisely what Dhar has been trying to achieve through his serial books on the mystery involving Bose’s death: building up public pressure on the government. Dhar and several members of the Bose family have been organizing events and lobbying with leaders ever since 23 January last, when they took out a candle march in favour of declassification of secret Bose files - their single point agenda.
In April this year a letter signed by 24 members of the family was handed over to the Gujarat chief minister by Bose's grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose. The letter said that "Netaji belonged to the entire nation, so we extend our appeal to you for your kind support in demanding from the Prime Minister that the Central Government must release in public domain all records to help unravel the mystery about his fate and bring a closure to the issue".
The family's approach was rebuffed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who, unlike Modi, refused to meet them and chose not to respond to their similar letter earlier.
The writer is a FirstPost columnist and a strategic analyst who tweets @Kishkindha.
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Updated Date: Nov 15, 2013 21:03:36 IST