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CIC upholds PMO’s refusal to declassify three Netaji files

Kolkata, July 19 : The Central Information Commission (CIC) has upheld the Prime Minister’s Office’s contention of keeping, as classified, three files on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, on grounds their declassification would adversely affect foreign relations.

CIC upholds PMO’s refusal to declassify three Netaji files

CIC upholds PMO's refusal to declassify three Netaji files

Researcher Chandrachur Ghose in April last year filed a Right to Information (RTI) application seeking copies of documents contained in three PMO files relating to the widow and daughter of the nationalist leader.

But the PMO turned down the request contending the disclosure of the documents would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries and as such they were exempt under the RTI Act.

When Ghose’s appeal was too turned by the PMO director, he took the matter before the CIC which Thursday upheld the PMO’s stand of refusing the declassification of the files.

It is not for us to substitute our judgment on the applicability of exemptions to that agency duly authorized to determine such issues.

In view of the above, and Central Public Information Officer’s submission that due diligence has been exercised, we uphold the decision of denying the information, CIC Rajiv Mathur said in his decision.

Ghose was represented by author and researcher Anuj Dhar at the hearing before Mathur.

Ghose and Dhar are part of a group called Mission Netaji, which since 2006 has filed several RTI applications concerning Netaji.

There is circumstantial evidence to prove that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was in Russia after that date in 1945, and we have started observing this day as declassification day to put pressure on the government to make public the hidden files on his life, stated the family spokesperson
Scores of admirers of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose today visit Japan’s Renkoji Temple to mourn his “death anniversary”, but his family in Kolkata has decided to observe “Declassification Day” from this year demanding that all the secret files related to his death be made public.

Seeking declassification of all the secret files and documents related to the mystery about the fate of the nationalist leader, who went missing in 1945, the family has started observing August 18 as “Declassification Day” from this year.

Netaji’s grandnephew Surya Kumar Bose, who has recently visited Renkoji temple where Netaji’s purported ashes are kept, said, “His admirers from different parts of Japan pay a visit to the temple each year to pay homage to the leader.”

“So far, we have never observed the day as we don’t believe that he died on August 18. There is circumstantial evidence to prove that he was in Russia after that date in 1945. But now we have started observing this day as declassification day to put pressure on the government to make public the hidden files on his life,” the family spokesperson Chandra Kumar Bose told PTI. To mark the occasion, they held a public meeting in Kolkata where they appealed all political parties to come forward and support the cause.

Under house arrest by the Britishers, Netaji had escaped from India in 1941 to seek international support for India’s freedom struggle. After organising the Indian National Army with Japanese help he went missing in 1945, giving birth to India’s most debated mystery.

He was last seen at the Bangkok Airport on 17th August 1945, since then no news of his whereabouts has been confirmed. The Mukherjee Commission formed by the Centre had rejected the opinion that he died in a plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.

Even Suresh Bose, one of the older brothers of Netaji and a member of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Inquiry Committee, had stated on oath before his death in 1972 that his brother was alive at the time. “There was never any direct evidence for Netaji’s death. On the contrary, all circumstantial evidence show that he was on his way to Soviet Russia, the only place he could hope to find sanctuary,” says researcher Anuj Dhar, whose controversial book “India’s biggest cover-up” started the momentum for declassification.

In an earlier disclosure under the RTI appeal made by ‘Mission Netaji’, a Delhi-based research trust, the PMO had admitted that it was holding 33 secret files concerning Netaji.

“If all these files are made public, we would not only know what happened to him after 1945 but it would also add a fresh dimension to India’s history as information about his life and times are missing,” Bose, Netaji’s grandnephew said.

Earlier this year, the Bose family wrote to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Odhisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and even met Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi seeking their intervention in the matter. None of them have so far come forward in helping the family.