As the Narendra Modi government declassified its files related to Subhash Chandra Bose on Saturday, it became clear to most historians that nothing of any great importance had been revealed in them
Yet, curiously, many users on social media, including journalists and the media, started to talk of a mysterious letter by Jawaharlal Nehru where he had called Bose a “war criminal”.
Letter was fake
Of course, there was no such letter and the “controversy” was at best a mix-up. As historian Ramachandra Guha explains here, the “war criminal” claim comes not from a letter by Nehru but from a mostly unknown witness “seeking publicity before the Khosla Commission in 1970”. Even historian Patrick French on Twitter pointed out that the war criminal claim is not “reliable”.
Journalists such as Aditya Kaul apologised for falling for the fake letter, Rahul Kanwal deleted his Facebook post which had reported it and India Today deleted its original tweet where it had reported news about the letter.
Ridiculing the gullible
Social media is driven by controversy not fact and political vendetta ensured that Nehru was pilloried all day. But there was a backlash, as a smaller if more thoughtful set of users started to mock people who had fallen for the fake Nehru letter. In turn, they started to make up Nehru letters of there own, in order to point out the hilarity of falling for the “war criminal” letter.