Wednesday May 23, 2018
Home India Netaji files:...

Netaji files: It’s time to frame declassification policy

0
//
222
Republish
Reprint

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.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

Survey Reports That Significant Number of People Rate Performance of Modi Government as Below Expectations

According to the poll, around 32 per cent respondents feel that crime against women and children have reduced in the last four years while 58 per cent feel otherwise.

0
//
20
According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.
On the state of the economy, 54 per cent respondents believe that the unemployment rate hasn't reduced in the last four years, while 35 per cent think otherwise., wikimedia commons

The Modi government hasnt scored too well on farmers issues, jobs and prices of essential commodities at the end of its four years in power, according to an online survey that also found a substantial number of people calling its performance “below expectations”.

The survey done by LocalCircles, a community social media platform, says that 43 per cent of those who participated in the poll rated the government as performing below expectations, 29 per cent rated it as meeting them and 28 per cent said the government was “exceeding expectations.

“Most performance parameters (of the government) show a decline over time as the gap between expectations set and impact on daily life rises,” according to the survey done with over 62,000 citizens from over 250 districts across the country. Thirty-five per cent respondents were females.

According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.

The respondents have rated the government low on reducing crime against women and children, generating employment, improving farmers life, lowering cost of living and healthcare, the survey says.

However, it has scored well on improving India’s image globally, handling of Pakistan, fighting terrorism, infrastructure development and reducing tax harassment.

According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.
43% say performance of Modi govt. is below expectations, IANS

“Around 60 per cent citizens said price of essential commodities and cost of living have not reduced. Only 33 per cent believe that the price of essential commodities have come down in the last four years.”

According to the poll, around 32 per cent respondents feel that crime against women and children have reduced in the last four years while 58 per cent feel otherwise.

In the area of healthcare, only 32 per cent respondents believe that facilities and services have improved in the last four years whereas 62 per cent say no it has not.

On the state of the economy, 54 per cent respondents believe that the unemployment rate hasn’t reduced in the last four years, while 35 per cent think otherwise.

Around 46 per cent respondents believe that doing business in India was now easier while 39 per cent say it is not the case.

The respondents were asked if sufficient new infrastructure development — roads, power, irrigation, broadband — had taken place in the last four years.

“Approximately 65 per cent said yes while 29 per cent said no.”

Around 49 per cent respondents believe that corruption in India has reduced in the last four years while 44 per cent believe it has not reduced.

Asked if they felt India’s image had improved, 82 per cent said yes while 13 per cent said no.

AMU Controversy: AMU Controversy is Less About Jinnah And More About Anything Else 

Respondents were also asked if they approved the way Indian Government had handled the perpetual conflict on the borders and relations with Pakistan in the last four years.

“Around 74 per cent felt it has improved strongly while 24 per cent felt that government’s tactics are not right.”

People were asked if they believed that terrorism and acts of terror against Indians have reduced in the last few years. Around 61 per cent respondents said yes while 35 per cent disagreed.

On the issues of communalism, 50 per cent felt that the government it well in the last few years while 45 per cent no. (IANS)