The Pakistan government did not allow two INA soldiers to attend seminars on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in India, reveal one of the files in the fresh set of Netaji files declassified by MoS Culture Mahesh Sharma on Friday.
The file, which relates to a communication before the Third International Netaji Seminar to be held in January 1979 in Kolkata, reveal that despite invitations from India, the Pakistan government did not let the two soldiers visit India for the second seminar.
A May 1978 letter by Dr Sisir K Bose, Executive Director of Netaji Research Bureau, to then Foreign Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee says: “We have been trying for the past few years to get a number of such important persons from Pakistan who can make a positive contribution to the study of our common struggle for Independence.”
“Last year, we attempted to bring Mian Akbar Shah and Col. Shaukat Malik to participate in our seminar,” Bose wrote, underlining that the Indian government supported the cause and issued them visas. Bose noted that the two “actually left their homes on their way to India but the government of Pakistan at the last moment raised objections to their leaving the country.”
Bose wrote that Shah was a “close associate of Netaji”, and Malik was “the first man to hoist the national tricolour on Indian soil in 1941.”
Emphasising that their presence would help the seminar, Bose sought “advice and guidance” of Vajpayee for “taking up the matter again with the Pakistan government for the Third International Netaji Seminar in 1979”.
Subsequently, Bose also sent separate invitations to Malik and Shah.
An MEA note of July 1978 said that “it could be explained to the bureau that it would not be possible for us to ensure the participation of the two Pakistani nationals concerned, as the Pakistan government would eventually decide on its own whether or not to allow the two persons travel to India”.
The MEA wrote back to Bose in September 1978 that the government “would certainly assist you, to the extent possible…we cannot, however, presume on the Government of Pakistan’s response”.
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