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File it away for now

india Updated: Jan 29, 2008 22:36 IST
Hindustan Times
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We wonder what Subhas Chandra Bose would have made of this. Responding to a Right To Information petition filed in September 2006, the Prime Minister’s Office has refused to make a 'public list' of old classified files on Netaji. Why? Because, the PMO, claims that it would negatively affect India’s relations with a foreign country. Which country? Japan, where he was last seen and reportedly killed? Russia, where some shadowy reports have him deported under Stalin’s orders? Or Germany, which under Nazi rule 'helped' Bose to take on the British Empire? Well, we shall not know until the information becomes public, shall we? As crumbs, the PMO has agreed to reveal 11 unclassified documents.

But why will a list — as opposed to the contents — of these documents upset anyone? Most countries, including national security-obsessed ones like Israel, declassify documents after a period of 30 years. The fact that the CIA made public the tapes in which American President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger described Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in rather unbecoming terms, one which rhymes with the word, 'witch', hasn't affected growing India-US ties, despite Mrs Gandhi’s daughter-in-law being in a position of considerable power in India today. Neither has Mr Kissinger, who unlike Nixon, has been a visitor to India, tremendously upset.

If it is the Forward Bloc, the party that has taken up the task of maintaining Bose’s legacy, that the PMO is afraid of upsetting, that’s another matter. But a list upsetting them? Oh well.