NEW DELHI: Towing the UPA line, the NDA government has refused to make public classified files on the mysterious disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and related matters in response to an RTI query, claiming that disclosure of the documents would affect relations with foreign countries.
The move by the BJP-led government is in sharp contrast to the demands of disclosure raised by the ruling party’s senior leaders when they were in the Opposition. In the present case also, where an RTI activist sought details related to Bose’s disappearance, the BJP government gave the same reply as the UPA government had done.
Then BJP president and present Home Minister Rajnath Singh , during a visit to Cuttack — the birthplace of Netaji — on the occasion of his 117th birth anniversary, had demanded that the UPA government make public the records related to the freedom fighter. “The entire country is impatient to know as to how Netaji died and under what circumstances,” Rajnath had said, releasing a book on the eve of Netaji’s birth anniversary in Cuttack on January 22 this year.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a recent RTI reply to RTI activist Subhash Agrawal accepted that there were 41 files related to Bose, of which two had been declassified, but refused to disclose them.
“Disclosure of documents contained in these files would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries. As such, these files are exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(a) read with Section 8(2) of the Right to Information Act,” the reply read.
“Yes this office has some files related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. A list of files unclassified/classified/declassified with number and subject matter relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is enclosed,” the PMO replied.
The PMO also gave a list of 41 files of which two related to INA treasure and appointment of an inquiry commission to go into circumstances of Netaji’s death that have been declassified and sent to the National Archives of India.
The PMO also admitted that there are 10 files, which are unclassified, but still invoked the exemption clause of section 8(1) to withhold them from disclosure. “Four ‘Top Secret’ files are held by the PMO,” it added.