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It’s a shame for India that Netaji’s whereabouts are still unknown: Mamata

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Kolkata: Calling it a national shame that the country continues to be unaware about Netaji’s whereabouts, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday demanded explanations regarding the mysterious disappearance of the nationalist leader.

Speaking at an event to mark the 75th anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s great escape from his Elgin Road house here, Banerjee called for raising with the Russian government, the issue of declassifying secret documents on Bose.

It has been 75 years since his great escape, but even today we don’t have answers as to what really happened to him. What can be more shameful and unfortunate than the country still doesn’t know about his whereabouts.

 

“If Mahatma Gandhi is the father of the nation, Netaji is the leader of the nation. The man who gave so much for the country, it’s a shame for the country in front of the whole world that we still don’t know about his whereabouts. We still don’t know if he is alive,” she said.

 

Referring to claims that Netaji did not die in the alleged plane crash in 1945 and escaped to Siberia, she called for a dialogue with the Russian government for unravelling the mystery.

I believe the Russian mystery is a great mystery. Has there been any discussion with the Russian government about declassifying secret files in their possession,

Mamata Banerjee’s government in September last declassified 64 files on Netaji.

 

I don’t know if Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Russia discussed the issue or not. But I believe we need to raise the issue with the Russian government. So that we get answers on whether Netaji had escaped to the country and if yes, then how long did he stay and where did he go from there,

 

“With so much time passed, the Russian government should have made public the files,” she said.

Asserting that the entire country deserved to know the actual fate of Netaji, Banerjee announced setting up a committee with the sole agenda of seeking explanations on Bose’s whereabouts.

 

Today the people of the country are seeking explanation and this explanation has to be given. We will set up a committee which for the entire year will undertake various programmes with the sole agenda – seeking an explanation about what happened to Netaji. We demand explanation and explanation has to be given,

 

The committee would comprise representatives from the state information and cultural affairs department and the Netaji Research Bureau.

Banerjee said she did not believe Netaji died in the alleged plane crash of 1945 in Taiwan, and wondered why no DNA test was conducted on the remains claimed to be that of him preserved at Japan’s Renkoji Temple.

 

The fact that even after Independence, extensive snooping was carried on Netaji and his family, is perhaps is a proof that the entire plane crash thing was planted and he did not die. People may have their own belief I believe he did not die in the crash.In fact, I feel he may still be alive. People like him never die,

 

On the occasion, she launched a book “The Oracle” and an exhibition depicting details about Netaji’s escape from the city residence on the intervening of Jan 16-17, 1941 in a car to Gomoh railway station.

(Inputs from IANS) 

(Picture Courtesy:zeenews.india.com)

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Decision to release Netaji’s files is an attempt to deflect attention: Congress

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Netaji

New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday said the Narendra Modi government’s decision to declassify the first set of 100 files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was an “attempt to deflect attention from the miserable failure on all fronts”.

Addressing a press conference here, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the Congress never tried to suppress the truth on Bose as was being alleged.

When the government decided to declassify the files on Netaji we had said that all files and documents related to him must be declassified as it would clear controversies related to the issue of his death,

On being asked that some of the distant relatives of Bose had raised doubts over Congress’ intention to declassify files on him when the party was in power, Sharma referred to Subhas Chandra Bose’s daughter Anita Puff’s statement regarding this issue

We don’t want to enter into any debate with any distant relative. We respect what has been said by his own daughter (on the issue)

 

He also advised the media be “careful” as fabricated and forged documents could be used to “sensationalize and to defame one of India’s greatest sons”.

(Inputs from IANS)

(Picture Courtesy: www.thehindu.com)

 

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It’s ‘look Bengal’ for BJP now

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New Delhi: After the Bihar debacle, BJP is now gearing up for the Bengal battle with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah stewarding the charge.

For this, the party is organizing the Utthan Divas rally in Kolkata on November 30 where Amit Shah will sound the bugle for his party cadres to begin preparation for the ensuing Bengal polls next year.

BJP, however, has to be cautious in distributing tickets to candidates as there were allegations from within the party that candidates with criminal backgrounds competed in the Bihar polls.

The onus will also be on state BJP chief Rahul Sinha who has failed to consolidate the party in West Bengal.

However, he sounded optimistic about the rally.

“On November 30, we will hold Utthan Divas rally in Kolkata. Our national president Amit Shah will address a mammoth gathering. This will be followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a series of rallies in the coming months,” Rahul Sinha said.

The state wing of BJP is eagerly waiting for the final nod from Amit Shah, Sinha added.

However, Amit Shah has reportedly postponed the rally.

Moreover, the party’s mixed bag fortune after it came to power in the center is also a major concern.

While, the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP grabbed control over the prized seat in Delhi, the Nitish-Lalu entente dented BJP’s plans for Bihar. Furthermore, with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee providing outside support to the Grand Alliance in Bihar, it would be tough for BJP to gain momentum in the state.

Despite gaining momentum in 2014 Parliamentary polls, BJP did not do well in the recent civic polls in West Bengal. Critics attributed the debacle to dearth of national level leaders, unorganized grass-root level cadres, infighting, and lack of streamlined agendas.

Nitish-Lalu’s swashbuckling victory, Mamata’s bastion in West Bengal and BJP’s differences with its allies also indicates the rise of a probable third front in the national politics. So, BJP can ill-afford to get whitewashed in West Bengal.

What can go in BJP’s favour in West Bengal is that former Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy is on the verge of floating a political outfit to topple Trinamool Congress. Mukul roy was a mainstay of the party and was instrumental in the party’s success. With state transport minister Madan Mitra embroiled in the Sharda Ponzi, it is high time for BJP to sharpen its claws to make any impact in Bengal.

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Netaji files: It’s time to frame declassification policy

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New Delhi: Many questions regarding the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in 1945 may finally be put to rest starting January 23, 2016.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday posted a series of tweets, in which he revealed that his government will start the declassification of files related to Netaji on 23th January, 2016 on the occasion of his birth anniversary. The Modi government will further request various foreign governments to declassify files related to Netaji. The announcement came shortly after Modi’s meeting with the extended family of Netaji Bose.

Modi tweeted:

The issue of Netaji’s disappearance has been hanging since 7 decades and successive governments had maintained that Netaji had died in the air-crash in 1945. The present decision will earn the government enormous goodwill and respect from thousands of people across the country who were eagerly waiting for this declassification to happen.

By this announcement, Modi has not only shown his respect for National heroes, but also his commitment to bring forward the records of Indian history into the public domain. Contrary to the attitudes of presiding governments that has continued to keep important documents classified even after many decades, Modi government has demonstrated its commitment to come clean on history.

The government must now build upon this and should begin declassification of other important files. This is very important not only for setting the records of history straight, but also to set an example for future governments to follow.

Whitewashing of history has already done enough damage to the nation.

As Modi notes in his tweet: “There is no need to strangle history,” it is time for the government to take bold decision to declassify other classified files dealing with important but controversial issues.

One issue that has been hanging for many decades is the death of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastri had gone to Tashkent, USSR in January 1966 to sign the peace agreement with Pakistani President Muhammad Ayub Khan that would officially bring an end to the India-Pakistan war.

Just after a day he signed the Tashkent Declaration, he was reported dead at 2 AM on January 11, 1966. The death has been reported to have been due to heart attack. But, no proper account of the incident has been made public. It has been often alleged that Shastri was poisoned and his body had turned blue. It is further pointed that no post mortem of his body was done either in Russia or in India.

The similarities between the death of Shastri and disappearance of Bose are many. First, they both were very popular Indian leaders. Secondly, in both cases, the government has re-iterated its version of events without giving any details or releasing any documents related to it. Thirdly, in both cases, repeated attempts at finding information about the deaths have been rejected.

Anuj Dhar, who has relentlessly strived for finding out information about Netaji and whose efforts have finally begun bearing fruits with the Modi government declaring that it would declassify the files, had also filed an RTI query in 2009 regarding Shastri. The RTI had sought the correspondences between India and Moscow as well as those between the Indian embassy in Moscow and the external affairs ministry after Shastri’s death. But the Prime Minister’s Office had turned down the RTI request by saying that the information will affect ‘security, integrity, and sovereignty of the country.’

Another incidence that adds to the claims of the conspiracy was the death of Shastri’s doctor RN Chugh and memory loss of Ram Nath, Shastri’s personal servant. Both of them met with an accident when they were on their way to depose before parliamentary body in 1977 about the death of Shastri.

Shastri’s family has repeatedly made appeals for declassification of the related documents. Just last month, Anil Shastri, the son of former prime minister appealed to Modi government to declassify. Modi government should listen to those appeals as well and initiate declassification of those files as well.

Another leader who died under mysterious circumstances was Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, who died as a detenu in Kashmir in 1953. Recently, the family members of Bhagat Singh had also appealed to the Center to declassify files related to him.

Then, there is the Vohra report on the criminalization of politics that was submitted in 1993, the Henderson-Brooks Report that analyzes India’s debacle in 1962 India-China War, and many classified files related to Naval Mutiny of 1946 and other aspects of freedom movement, that are yet to see the light.

Calling for declassification of all such files, Indian academic and writer, Madhu Kishwar tweeted yesterday:

Modi government should form a committee that includes members from intelligence, legal fraternity, historians, and experts from other concerned areas to review all these old files and declassify them in a phased manner. The government should further bring out a declassification policy similar to those in the US or UK so that the declassification of files does not become an issue in future.

UK declassifies its files after 20 years. US follows 10 years declassification. It further has a 25-year review that reviews and declassifies those files that were not declassified at 10 years. In Australia, federal documents are declassified at 20 years and cabinet notes at 30 years. India should formulate its own policy on similar lines.

Modi government has taken a welcome step in deciding to declassify Netaji files. But, this declassification should not be its last. The government should genuinely pursue the issue of declassification and legislate laws for automatic declassification after a fixed number of years. Only this would make India a truly information-rich country, wherein its people can easily access documents related to its recent history.