Tuesday, 22 January, 2008

Govt disclosure of 90 Netaji mystery records has a whiff of cover-up

Home Ministry's "selected" release is first of its kind under RTI Act

Records include Intelligence Bureau reports, Ministry of External Affairs' telegrams & prime ministerial correspondence. One note by Prime Minister Nehru will remain classified.

After one and half years of RTI efforts which led to a landmark Central Information Commission decision and discussions among the highest echelons of power in the country, the Ministry of Home Affairs has released to Mission Netaji 90 documents relating to the mystery surrounding the death of Subhas Chandra Bose.

The MHA had earlier said it could not provide Bose-related records, with the Union Home Secretary himself expressing fears that disclosure could lead to law and order problem in the country -- especially in Bose's home state West Bengal.

That certain classified documents should be released under the fledgling right to information regime makes for a good news in secrecy-obsessive India, but there are no more glad tidings. The MHA's disclosure appears to be selective, with too many missing links. More

Monday, 5 November, 2007

RTI effect: Netaji papers to be released

RTI effect: Netaji papers to be released

Hindustan Times Special

Aloke Tikku
New Delhi, November 4

The government is finally preparing to make public a selection of secret and controversial documents relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s reported death and subsequent events.

The documents include communications to and from then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the chiefs of intelligence, which had been given to the Shah Nawaz Khan Committee of 1956 and Justice GD Khosla Commission of 1970.

Both had concluded that Netaji died in an air crash in August 1945, a conclusion trashed by the Justice M.K. Mukherjee Commission in its November 2005 report.

The documents were never allowed to be made public for the next four decades. Till July, the Union Home Ministry also staved off attempts to release them under the Right To Information law saying the documents sought were voluminous, top secret in nature and may lead to chaos in the country if disclosed.

But a Central Information Commission decision in the same month has helped bring about the change in its assessment.

Officials said the Shivraj Patil-led Home Ministry had come around to the view that there really was no fear of a law and order problem if the secret documents were revealed.

Last week, Patil moved the Cabinet Committee of Political Affairs to seek a decision on releasing the files.

Sources said the committee was, in principle, inclined to make the documents public but had sought some clarifications from the bureaucracy before putting its seal of approval.

There were concerns that people may read parts of the communication out of context, which could result in a controversy that would necessarily have political overtones.

But the overall view was the worst that the Congress-led coalition government may have to face was a controversy that would die a natural death.

But Anuj Dhar of Mission Netaji — the organisation that used the information law to seek access to the confidential Netaji papers — said he had his doubts if the ministry would declassify the whole lot comprising thousands of papers.

“They will hold back the sensitive papers,” said Dhar who authored Back from Dead: Inside the Subhas Bose Mystery, questioning the official plane crash version.

He had obtained information from the government in Taiwan in 2003, which claimed that no plane carrying Netaji had ever crashed there.

Related MN link: Official Secrets Act era gone; disclose Netaji records CIC tells Govt