Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday released the first set of 100 digitised files relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in the public domain, the freedom icon who created the Indian National Army to throw off the shackles of British colonial rule in India.
The declassification of the documents is widely expected to reveal the truth behind the disappearance of Bose seven decades ago.
Saturday also happens to be the 119th birth anniversary of Bose. Modi also met family members of Netaji, including Prof. Chitra Ghosh, Shri Chandra Bose, and Shri Surya Kumar Bose, a government statement said.
Two commissions of inquiry had concluded that Bose died in a plane crash in Taipei on 18 August 1945. A third commission of inquiry and many people, including some of his relatives, have contested that theory.
Modi had, in his meeting with members of the Bose family in October, conveyed to them that the government would declassify the files relating to the leader.
“There are some 33 files which the prime minister’s office had in its possession related to Netaji and these have been transferred to the National Archives. Different ministries of the government were also told to transfer whatever files they had in their possession to the National Archives” said an official adding the number of files released were about 100.
“Remembering Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his birth anniversary. His bravery & patriotism endears him to several Indians across generations,” Modi said earlier in a post on Twitter.
“Today is a special day for all Indians. Declassification of Netaji files starts today. Will go to National Archives myself for the same,” he said in another post.
There are some other theories about Netaji’s disappearance, one of them being that the leader fled to the former Soviet Union to continue to fight for India’s independence but was later killed. The other says that Netaji returned to India as an ascetic, ‘Gumnami Baba’, and continued to live in Uttar Pradesh’s Faizabad till 1985.
Netaji’s daughter Anita Bose Pfaff, who currently lives in Germany, however believes that her father had died in the Taipei plane crash of 1945. In an interview published in the Hindustan Times on Friday, Pfaff said that her “personal belief” was that her father “died in the plane crash.”
A museum in Kolkata dedicated to Bose preserves memories of the leader. Its walls are lined with black and white photos of Bose’s parents, of him as a young boy, his May 1942 meeting with Germany’s then leader Adolf Hitler in Berlin and a picture of his German wife, Emilie Schenkl, holding baby Anita.
Other pictures capture his 90-day journey from Germany to Japan aboard a submarine between February and May 1943. Another is allegedly the last known picture of Bose, in which he is seen stepping off a plane in Saigon on 17 August 1945, a day before his widely disputed death in an aircrash in Taipei.