New Delhi,Manan Kumar(dna): Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally bite the bait and translate his assurance given to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's kin into reality by declassifying all 39 top secret files lying with his office to lift the veil of mystery shrouding one of the most controversial freedom fighters of India?
The probability, if top sources are to be believed, is very slim.
"The PM may keep his word by declassifying a few less important files of the 39 files but will not venture to declassify all," said sources.
The answer to this partly lies in PMO response to an RTI application wherein it said, "Disclosure of the documents contained in these files would prejudicially affect the relations with foreign countries. As such these files are not exempt from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (a) read with 8 (2) of the RTI Act."
It also said that the PM had no discretionary powers to declassify the Netaji files.
The other part of the answer, according to a very senior retired PMO official, lies in the fact that the revelations may sullen the demigod-like image of Netaji by bringing out very basic shortcomings.
"Nobody, including Nehru wanted this. Bose was once his party's president. And nobody would want this to happen even now," he said.
"When in opposition you can cry foul and use Netaji as a tool but it is a different matter when you become guardian of those same secrets and have to become status quoist to not open a Pandora's Box," he added.
Interestingly, the Janata Party government led by Morarji Desai also refused to reject Khosla commission report and order a fresh inquiry into Netaji's disappearance in 1977 despite a persisting MP Samar Guha.
Guha had urged the government to set up a three-man commission for conducting a fresh inquiry into the mystery behind disappearance of Netaji, with powers to make additional investigation; record fresh oral evidence of exceptional importance; scrutinise the secret official documents in possession of the government, which have not been made available to the earlier probing bodies; examine external documents connected with Netaji's disappearance by obtaining the same from the governments of Japan, Taiwan, UK, China and Russia and Japan and re-assess all documentary and oral evidence adduced before the Shah Nawaz and Khosla Commissions. Upholding the findings of Shah Nawaz Commission, the Khosla Commission had also maintained that Netaji had died in an air crash at Taihoku (Formosa) on August 18, 1945.
This was the first time that a non-Congress government had come to power and could have brought many facts out. The cabinet had Atal Bihari Vajpayee as external affairs minister and LK Advani as minister for information and broadcasting.
The recently declassified files attest to the same. Then Deputy Secretary of home ministry's Internal Security division, N K Sinha, in his note to his senior – dated Sept 11, 1977 – stated that the Cabinet Secretary has recorded on the memorandum that he has discussed the matter with PM and that the latter does not favour a fresh inquiry.
Subsequently, a cabinet note was prepared by the Home Ministry on Nov 17, 1977 and signed by the then home secretary TCA Srinivasavaradan, soliciting cabinet approval to reject demand for fresh inquiry. Four days later, on November 21, the union cabinet consisting of Vajpayee and Advani among others okayed the same.