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Modi declassifies Netaji files, family members welcome move

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Update:

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday declassified 100 files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, a top freedom fighter who raised an army to fight the British and whose death in an aircrash continues to be a mystery even after seven decades.

Modi released digital copies of 100 files at the National Archives of India following the government’s decision to declassify files on the freedom fighter. The files were released on the birth anniversary of Bose, who was more popularly addressed with the honorific Netaji.

Modi also launched a webportal https://netajipapers.gov.in to release digital version of 100 files.

The family members of Bose, some of whom where present during the declassification, were overwhelmed by the decision calling it a “great day for the entire nation.”

Netaji, one of the leading lights of the Indian freedom struggle, set up the Indian National Army (INA) during World War II to take on the British Indian Army.

A former Congress president and once a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Bose’s reported death in a plane crash in Formosa, now Taiwan, in 1945 has remained a mystery. The bespectacled freedom fighter was born on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack, Odisha.

The National Archives received 990 declassified files pertaining to the Indian National Army (INA) from the defence ministry in 1997.

“Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose must be given the title ‘Leader of the Nation’. He deserves that honour,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted minutes after Modi declassified a set of files.

The Mamata Banerjee government on September 18, 2015 put in public domain 64 files running into 12,744 pages in the presence of Netaji’s family members, who have been campaigning for the declassification of the files to unravel the mystery surrounding his sudden disappearance over 70 years ago.

The release of the files “will meet the long-standing public demand” and “will also facilitate scholars to carry out further research on Netaji”, a culture ministry statement has said.

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen said in Kolkata on Saturday that he was interested to see what was there in the files, but it was far more important to debate his life and work, to follow his vision, rather than to discuss in what circumstances he died.

Earlier report:

On the occasion of the 119th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi released 100 files on the freedom fighter that have been classified up until now.

In a meeting with the members of the Bose family in October last year, PM Modi has announced that the government would declassify the files relating to the leader whose disappearance 70 years ago remains a mystery.

In a tweet this morning, the Prime Minister said:”Today is a special day for all Indians. Declassification of Netaji files starts today. Will go to National Archives myself for the same”.

The PM made public digital copies of the files at an event at the National Archives of India (NAI) which was also attended by the twelve members of the Bose family.

Two commissions of inquiry had concluded that Netaji died in a plane crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945. A third commission of inquiry and many people, including some of his relatives, have contested that theory.

“I don’t believe the air crash theory. We may not get all the answers today but I do hope that some indications will be given,” Chandra Bose, a grand nephew of Netaji, had said earlier today as quoted by NDTV.
There are two other recurrent theories about Netaji’s disappearance, one of them being that the leader fled to the Soviet Union to continue to fight for India’s independence but was killed. The other says that Netaji returned to India as an ascetic, ‘Gumnami Baba’, and continued to live in Uttar Pradesh’s Faizabad till 1985.

Rejecting the ascetic theory as “total nonsense”, Netaji’s daughter Anita Bose Pfaff, who lives in Germany and was unable to attend the event, said that her “personal belief” is that her father “died in the plane crash”.

The National Archives of India plans to release digital copies of 25 declassified files on Netaji in the public domain every month.

The first lot of 33 files were declassified by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and handed over to the National Archives in December last year.

 

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