Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday released digital copies of 100 secret files related to Subhash Chandra Bose, on the freedom fighter’s 119th birth anniversary, and met his family members. The files have been put in the public domain for the first time, while the National Archives of India will also be releasing 25 classified documents on Bose every month following this, PTI reported.
The files have brought several twists in Netaji's tale, including the revelation that Jawaharlal Nehru could not give any proof of Bose's death – he was believed to have suffered severe burns and died in a plane crash in Taipei. The files also revealed that Mahatma Gandhi did not believe Bose died in the air crash and that Netaji's wife refused any stipends from the Congress government.
The Congress hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party, even though it supported the declassification of the files. Congress leader Anand Sharma said the way Modi's government took up the matter was suspicious, and that the prime minister did this to deflect attention from his failures.
4.40 pm: A declassified file reveals that the Indian government was hesitant to bring Subhash Chandra Bose's ashes from a Buddhist temple in Tokyo, fearing a political backlash, said Hindustan Times. NN Jha, former Joint Secretary in external affairs ministry’s north and east Asia department of the 1976 government, in a letter wrote that the Indian government was not inclined to bring back Bose's ashes "due to possible adverse reactions from members of Netaji’s family, as well as certain sections of the public". The report adds that TV Tajeswar, joint director of the Intelligence Bureau in 1976, warned that the government would be accused of “foisting a false story upon the people of West Bengal and India, taking advantage of Emergency".
4.30 pm: Congress leader Tom Vadakkan called the National Democratic Alliance illiterate and said that its leaders "need to rediscover history", an ANI report said. Vadakkan said that the Congress' DNA had Bose's name writ large on it, and that it always desired that the files on Netaji be declassified.
4 pm: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Saturday said that Netaji's death has made for petty politics, and that the circumstances of one's death was not as important as their life, reported PTI.
3.30 pm: One of the files declassified today is a letter from Bose's nephew Amiya Nath Bose to then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao on August 7, 1995, alleging that Mahatma Gandhi did not believe Netaji died in the Taipei air crash. Gandhi reportedly also sent a telegram to Bose's family telling them not to perform his funeral.
3.25 pm: Bose's relative Chandra Kumar Bose said more files need to be declassified for the truth about Netaji's disappearance to come to light, including those from Russia's intelligence and security agency KGB.
3 pm: According to some of the declassified files, former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru informed Netaji's family of his death in 1962, but did not send proof as there was only circumstantial evidence of his demise. The evidence was sent to an inquiry committee, Nehru wrote to Suresh Bose on May 18, 1962.
2.45 pm: The Hindu reported that Bose's wife and German national, Emilie Schenkl, refused to accept money from the Congress. The Congress paid Bose's daughter Anita an annual sum of Rs 6,000 till she got married in 1964. Of the declassified files, 33 are from the Prime Minister's Office, and the others are communication between the Indian government, Russia and Japan.
2.30 pm: The Congress threatened to "take action" against those who have fabricated a letter from former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to British Prime Minister Clement Atlee. The letter allegedly told Atlee that Bose, a war criminal, had been allowed to enter Russian territory, which was a "betrayal of faith" and something that should not have been done. The letter then, reportedly, told Atlee to "do what you consider proper and fit". Congress leader Anand Sharma said that measures would be taken to identify those behind the letter, and to punish them.
2.15 pm: Congress leader Anand Sharma said the Bharatiya Janata Party is attempting to get political mileage by declassifying files on Subhash Chandra Bose, contradicting the party's earlier stand that they supported the move. He said the Congress has said this was a controversy "from the very beginning", ANI reported. Times Now reported that Sharma said it was unfortunate that Modi did this to deflect attention from all his failures.
1.40 pm: The BJP Yuva Morcha in Kolkata held celebrations after the files were declassified.
1.35 pm: Union minister Mahesh Sharma told CNN-IBN that the BJP has done what the Congress could not, in declassifying the files on Netaji. He added that the issue was pending since India’s independence, and many people have awaited this day.
1.20 pm: Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed said his party fully supported the decision to declassify the files and that there was no question of the Congress being embarrassed.
12.50 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said it was the government's responsibility to share the truth of Netaji's story with future generations. She said the truth must also come out through documentation and proof, ANI reported, and that Bose should be given the title of leader of the nation.
12.45 pm: The Prime Minister officially declassified 100 secret files on Subhash Chandra Bose.
12.35 pm: Narendra Modi pays tribute to Netaji.
12.30 pm: The Prime Minister arrives at National Archives for the event where he will declassify the files on Bose.
11 am: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said people who "had no role in the freedom struggle" just wanted the files in the public domain to create trouble, ANI reported, but he added that they must be declassified.
Modi had announced the declassification after meeting with Bose’s family in October last year. Bose went missing around 70 years ago and the circumstances leading to his death remain a mystery. Two official commissions of inquiry said that Bose died in an air crash in Taipei in 1945, though some members of his family and other analysts have refuted the theory. Over a dozen members of Netaji’s family will attend the event in Delhi where the files will be declassified.
Soumitra Bose, a relative of Netaji’s, told CNN-IBN that Modi has done the right thing by declassifying the files, and said it was important for the nation as well as their family. Recently, a British website claimed to have "irresistible evidence" about Bose’s plane crash, including eye-witness accounts. Members of his family, including his daughter Anita Bose Pfaff, have asked for a DNA test on his remains reportedly kept at Tokyo’s Renkoji temple.
Earlier in the day Chandra Kumar Bose, Netaji’s grand-nephew, said members of their family felt certain the Congress destroyed some very important files to “hide the truth”. He added that the current government should also ensure files relating to Bose in Germany, Russia, America and Britain are declassified as well, PTI reported. He also said the new government's attitide is different from the earlier government's, and that the attitude of suppressing facts has been negated.