One of history's most intriguing mysteries surrounding the disappearance of a political figure could soon be solved. The West Bengal government on Friday will declassify 64 secret files on nationalist leader Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, finally providing both historians and conspiracy theorists with some answers. Some running to almost 300 pages, the files also hold key insights into Bose's life at a time when India was rising against the colonial rule.
Bose's mysterious disapperance in mid-1940s had led to speculations that he may have perished in a plane crash in Taihoku, Taiwan.
"A total 64 files are there with us. There may be one or two more files also which would also be put in the public domain. After properly reviewing all the files, we have decided to put them in public domain from next Friday (September 18)," PTI quoted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as saying.
Times of India reported that the files on Bose may contain enough circumstantial evidence to piece together the theory that he was alive till at least 1964. It quoted an American intelligence report from the early 1960s that suggests that Bose may have returned to India sometime in February 1964.
British and American intelligence agencies believed that Bose was alive and behind a number of communist uprisings in Southeast Asia between 1948 and 1949, according to recently declassified documents.
An Indian Express report suggested that some of the documents raised questions over the nationalist leader's death, widely believed to be in a plane crash in 1945 in Taipei.
"Everybody wants to know what happened to Netaji. He was a brave son of our soil and he was from Bengal," Banerjee said.
The Chief Minister also announced that the record of the freedom struggle from 1937 to 1947 would be digitised in order to preserve history. Netaji's grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose said it is a "very positive step and in the right direction" and demanded that the files lying with the central government should also be declassified.
Recently some files relating to Bose, which were declassified by the central government, had revealed that the Home Ministry had snooped on at least two of Netaji's nephews when Jawaharlal Nehru was the PM. The files revealed that the Intelligence Bureau had kept a tap on the relatives of Netaji between 1948 and 1968. Subsequent to this, family members of Netaji had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to declassify all Netaji files.
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"I regret I could not find out that news about Netaji which have been published in Chinese newspaper in Nanking some time ago. I am still believing that he is alive," Express quoted a letter written by Ohou Hrian Kuan, from the Publication Division of the I&B Ministry, intercepted by the Intelligence Bureau, as saying to make the point about Netaji's whereabouts during 1948-49.
Writing for TOI, logician, researcher and columnist Adheer Som said that Anuj Dhar, a Bose researcher and activist, believed the contents are "in-between earthshaking and merely interesting". (With inputs from PTI)