Subhas Chandra Bose’s grandnephew has said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will consider a demand to declassify files on the iconic freedom fighter even as Netaji’s family organised a rally in Kolkata on Tuesday to pressure authorities to make public all secret papers.
Surya Kumar Bose raised the demand for declassifying all secret files with Modi against the backdrop of a controversy over successive Congress governments spying on Netaji’s family for two decades.
He also told the media that most members of the Bose family did not believe the freedom fighter had died in a plane crash in Taipei in 1945, days after Japan surrendered in World War II.
Surya Bose met Modi, currently on an official visit to Germany, after attending a reception hosted in the Prime Minister’s honour on Monday.
“He (Modi) said he will look into it seriously, and then will make a decision. He said he will try his best to open them up because he himself hasn't yet seen any of those files. So he said he cannot judge what the contents are like, or what they could be. It was a very honest answer I must say,” he said.
The prime minister gave an assurance that that he would look into the matter right away as he too felt the "truth should come out", Surya Bose said.
“I think as far as declassification (of the files) is concerned, to the best of my knowledge, at the moment I think the whole family is united,” said Surya Bose, a businessman who is now president of the Indo-German Association in Hamburg.
“But there are differences of opinion as far as the plane crash theory is concerned. But the majority of the family as of now do not believe in it,” he said.
In Kolkata, several of Netaji’s relatives, including nephew Dwarka Nath Bose and grandnephews Chandra Bose and Avijit Roy, joined dozens of people for a rally demanding the full disclosure of more than 150 files on Netaji that are with the central and West Bengal governments.
As the rally made its way through a three-kilometre stretch in central Kolkata, the people distributed leaflets demanding declassification of the files.
Differences within the family too came to the fore as grandnephew Sugata Bose (a Trinamool Congress MP) and Krishna Bose (the wife of Bose's nephew Sisir Bose) did not join the rally.
The demand for declassifying the files got a boost after the meeting between Surya Bose and Prime Minister Modi. Chandra Bose told Hindustan Times that Modi had invited members of the family to Delhi to meet him and discuss the issue.
The sensitive subject has come to the front burner after a recent media exposure that between 1948 and 1968, the centre snooped on Sisir Bose and Amiya Nath Bose, two nephews who were extremely close to Subhas Bose.
The demand for declassifying the files on Bose came amid a controversy that successive Congress government mounted surveillance on Netaji's kin between 1948 and 1968. Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru was the prime minister for a majority of this period and the Intelligence Bureau reported to him.
The details of the surveillance were included in two files from the West Bengal intelligence department that were declassified and sent to the National Archives.
Surya Bose earlier said it was the duty of all people of India to raise the issue of declassifying the Netaji files.
"Subhas Bose did not belong just to his direct family. He had himself said that the whole country is his family. I do not think it's just the duty of the family to raise this issue (of declassifying the Netaji files). It is the duty of the people of India to raise the issue,” he said.
Chandra Bose said, "The time has now come to declassify the Netaji files. Saying it would affect India's relations with other nations is simply a lame excuse. The Modi government has been talking of transparency and now it is the time to provide transparency by releasing those files which will tell us what happened to Netaji during his last years."
In reply to a query under the Right To Information Act, the Prime Minister's Office refused to declassify secret files on Netaji on the ground that the "disclosure would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries".
Surya Bose pointed out that Netaji had played a key role to play in the Indian freedom struggle.
“Diplomatic missions and the government should no longer propagate untruth about the freedom struggle. It is not just (Mahatma) Gandhi’s non-violence, non-cooperation that brought India its freedom,” he said.
“It was Subhash Bose and his INA that gave the final blow which sent the British packing and this has been admitted by Prime Minister Attlee, by Lord Mountbatten,” he added.
Surya Bose attacked Nehru’s administration, saying it was "shocking" that a government of independent India had spied on Netaji's family. Asked about the commissions of inquiry that probed Netaji’s reported death, he said the “first two were totally bogus”.
The Mukherjee Commission, he said, had done more but it did not have investigative powers.