West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has decided to put in public domain 64 intelligence department files related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, capping decades of speculation on what they contain and rising demands to publish them.
"We have decided to put in public domain all government files on Netaji that we have," Banerjee told media persons at the state secretariat.
Bureaucrats at the Prime Minister's Office, home ministry and ministry of external affairs have so far stonewalled attempts to access the classified files that can throw light on Netaji's disappearance.
The Centre has 130 files and is yet to take a decision on whether to make them public despite amid clamour from a number of circles.
"The state government has a number of files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. There is a huge curiosity among the public to know what is in those files. The state government also wants that people should want more about Netaji. I have decided to put the files in the public domain from next Friday at the police archive at the office of the DC North of Kolkata Police," Banerjee added.
"This state government believes in total transparency and therefore, we have decided to put them out in the public domain," she added. She also said all documents between 1937 and 1947 are being digitised.
"We have discussed it with the Kolkata Police commissioner and the director general of state police. We won't think there will be any internal problems if we bring the contents in public," she said.
The chief minister also said the one-member Mukherjee Commission set up to probe the mysterious disappearance of Netaji asked for some files from the state. He gave the files back after going through them, she said.
"I congratulate the chief minister on behalf of the Bose family. The Centre should take a cue from the decision and put everything in the public domain," said Chandra Kumar Bose, great grand nephew of Subhas Chandra Bose.
An August 22, 1945, Tokyo Radio broadcast announced the 'death' of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in an air crash in Formosa (now Taiwan) on August 18, 1945, en route to Japan.
But the crash theory has been rejected by scores of Netaji's followers and admirers and claims of the revolutionary leader resurfacing continue to intrigue and divide Indians over the years.
To the public, a section of his family as well as some historians, the news of his "death" was largely unacceptable due to insufficient evidence and since Bose in his numerous escapades had proved to be a master of disguise.
Some believe he fled to the erstwhile Soviet Union and was locked up in a labour camp.
Others say he escaped altogether and appeared in Paris in 1969.
Or did he indeed carry on in hiding? The Indian government constituted as many as three probe commissions to ferret out the truth behind the disappearance, but the mystery lingers on.
(With inputs from IANS)