NEW DELHI: The Centre has refused to divulge whether declassified archives of the erstwhile Soviet spy agency KGB were ever searched for any information on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's alleged death in a plane crash 70 years ago.
The denial comes despite repeated promises by the NDA government about disclosure of Netaji files. The External Affairs Ministry has refused to provide any information on the action taken on a 19-year-old proposal from its Joint Secretary (East Europe) R L Narayan, who had suggested requesting the Russian authorities to search KGB archives and inform India "if there is any evidence of Netaji's stay in the Soviet Union".
Narayan's note, written on January 12, 1996, was referred to Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs. The then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had written a noting on it, asking the Secretary and Narayan to discuss the proposal "urgently" on January 14, 1996.
The Ministry first responded, saying the information was not available in a particular division. Later, when the RTI application was again filed with same queries, the Ministry said "Under section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act 2005, the information on the subject cannot be disclosed."
The clause of the Right to Information law cited by the CPIO and Under Secretary (East Asia) Bayyapu Sandeep Kumar allows the government to withhold information the disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence. Ironically, the note itself tagged as "secret" is widely available on the internet. However, the action taken on the proposal remains a mystery.