The Centre on Friday said it was the United Progressive Alliance government that concluded that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose died in a plane crash, and said the current government was willing to examine any “new fact” if and when it came up, reported The Indian Express. The Union Home Ministry, in a Right to Information reply on Tuesday, had said the freedom fighter had died in this manner in Taiwan in 1945, though this has long been an unconfirmed claim. The Centre’s U-turn came after facing backlash from political parties, including the Trinamool Congress and West Bengal wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, on its response to the query.

An MHA spokesperson said the matter was not closed. “There was a conclusion in 2006 that Netaji was dead,” the spokesperson said. “The RTI reply was based on that conclusion. However, the issue is not closed. Any new fact, if it comes up, will be examined by the government on merit and an appropriate decision will be taken.”

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had demanded a clarification on the matter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I am shocked to see this unilateral decision of the central government without evidence,” she had said.

Earlier, the Union Home Ministry had replied to RTI applicant and Open Platform for Netaji spokesperson Sayak Sen’s query asking for information about an individual identified as Gumnami Baba or Bhagwanji, who some believed was the freedom fighter.

“After considering the reports of Shahnawaz Committee, Justice GD Khosla Commission and Justice Mukherjee Commission of Enquiry, the government has come to the conclusion that Netaji has died in plane crash in 1945,’’ the Union home ministry had said. The Mukherjee Commission had concluded that Gumnami Baba/Bhagwanji was not Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

The definitive answer had not gone down well with his family. “This is an irresponsible move,” Bengal Bharatiya Janata Party vice president and Bose’s grandson Chandra Bose said. “How can the government conclude Netaji’s death without concrete evidence?’’