On the 119th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today put in the public domain, for the first time, 100 secret files on the freedom fighter whose disappearance 70 years ago remains a mystery.
Flanked by Union ministers Mahesh Sharma and Babul Supriyo, PM Modi pressed a button, making public digital copies of the files at Delhi's National Archives of India (NAI) where twelve members of the Bose family were present.
Later, Modi and his ministerial colleagues went around glancing at the declassified files, spending over half an hour at the National Archives. He also spoke to the members of the Bose family.
The NAI also plans to release digital copies of 25 declassified files on Bose in the public domain every month.
"We welcome this step by Prime Minister wholeheartedly. This is a day of transparency in India," Chandra Kumar Bose, a grand nephew of Netaji said.
PM Modi had, in his meeting with members of the Bose family in October last year, announced that the government would declassify the files relating to the leader.
Two commissions of inquiry had concluded that Netaji died in a plane crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945. A third commission of inquiry and many people, including some of his relatives, have fiercely contested that theory.
"I don't believe the air crash theory. We may not get all the answers today but I do hope that some indications will be given," Chandra Bose, a grand nephew of Netaji, had said earlier today.
There are two other theories about Netaji's disappearance, one of them being that the leader fled to the Soviet Union to continue to fight for India's independence but was 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.
Rejecting the ascetic theory as "total nonsense", Netaji's daughter Anita Bose Pfaff, who lives in Germany and was unable to attend the event, had said that her "personal belief" is that her father "died in the plane crash".
The National Archives of India plans to release digital copies of 25 declassified files on Netaji in the public domain every month.
The first lot of 33 files were declassified by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and handed over to the the National Archives in December last year.
Subsequently, the ministries of home affairs and external affairs too initiated the process of declassification of files relating to Bose in their respective collection which were then transferred over to the NAI, it added.