Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Netaji Files Cannot be Declassified - The Biggest Tamassha of Indian Politics
In a latest RTI revelation obtained by IT professional Sreejith Panickar - part of group "Mission Netaji" comprising this writer and friends - the prime minister's office has made stunning revelations.
One, the PMO says that Prime Minister Narendra Modi actually has no power to declassify secret Subhas Chandra Bose files. "There are no mentions in Manual of Office Procedure or Public Records Rules, 1997, regarding any discretionary power vested in PM to declassify records," the PMO says.
This comes in response to Panickar's poser: "Does the prime minister have any prerogative to issue an order to declassify the files and send them to the National Archives?"
Two, even as the PMO provides a list of 36 classified files concerning Netaji, it says it holds five more files which are so highly secretive that even their names cannot be divulged.
Three, at least 20 of the PMO files concern the issue most enlightened people in India not too long ago dismissed as a mere conspiracy theory - the disappearance of Subhas Bose.
Four, such is the level of dark secrecy concerning Subhas Bose that files about his widow Emilie Schenkl and daughter Anita Pfaff have been classified. A file dealing with the funeral of Emilie in Germany in 1996 has been classified "Confidential"; whereas another file about the mother and daughter has been accorded highest level of secrecy grading, "Top Secret".
Five, four new secret files have been added since 2006 to the PMO's master list of secret Netaji files. One of these is about "construction of INA memorial and Netaji Subhas Bhavan" in New Delhi as suggested by Bhupinder Singh Hooda, then chief minister of Haryana, is stamped classified. Did Hooda do something wrong in making that outrageous suggestion? Intriguingly, a file about Netaji's birthplace in Cuttack is "Secret".
Six, and this one should take the cake, the file that deals with declassification of certain records which were sent to the National Archives recently is itself "confidential".
Transfer of these records to the archives was mandated following a 2007 Central Information Commission directive in a case involving ministry of home affairs and Sayantan Dasgupta of "Mission Netaji".
During the course of this RTI matter, the home ministry officials dropped two bombshells. One, disclosing certain "top secret" records about Bose's fate "may lead to a serious law and order problem in the country, especially in West Bengal". Two, "The decision concerning disclosure has to be taken at the highest level".
Our impression at that point in time was that the officials were referring to someone about whom Sanjay Baru wrote in his book. But we were wrong.
Today the moot question is: "Where do we go for declassification of the Netaji files?"
Secrecy begets suspicions. Suspicions turn into conspiracy theories of the worst kind. Dear prime minister, come and see what people are alleging on social media regarding some hideous "pact" top Indian leadership, including Mahatma Gandhi, got into with the British with regard to Subhas Chandra Bose at the time of the transfer of power in 1947. God forbid this should be true!
The writer has opened a petition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi which can be signed here: