A day after the Trinamool Congress slammed the BJP government at the Centre for observing Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary on January as “Prakaram Diwas” and not “Desh Prem Diwas” as celebrated in West Bengal, the party on Wednesday demanded that a book chronicling the history of Azad Hind Fauj (INA) – compiled by the history division of the defence ministry decades ago – be made public.
Addressing a press conference here, Trinamool Congress MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said the book, edited by historian P C Gupta, is still awaiting release, as both the UPA and the NDA governments at the Centre did not take any initiative to get it published.
Roy said that he had received an anonymous letter with an official note exchanged between the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of External Affairs a few years back. “According to that note, pages 186 -191 of the unpublished book could strengthen the view that Netaji may have survived the plane crash in August 1945… In the note, the MoD (Ministry Of Defence) wanted to know from the Ministry of External Affairs whether publishing the book in any way would harm India’s relations with any countries. The External Affairs Ministry gave a green signal to publish the book but in its note said that pages 186-191 would likely to be more controversial as those only added to the view that Netaji may have escaped alive from the plane crash.”
According to Roy, Chandrachur Ghose, a researcher from Haryana, had filed a PIL in 2009 seeking a copy of the book. In September 2010, the then Chief Information Commissioner had directed the Centre to either hand over a draft copy of the book to Ghose or publish it.
“…but the then UPA government said more details will be added to the book before its release, a proposal turned down by a single bench of the High Court. The court ordered the book cannot be edited further and had to be released in its original form. Subsequently, the government moved the division bench and the case is still pending,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.
“On June 7 last year, I sent a letter to the Prime Minister urging the Centre to file an application before the High Court for publishing the edited version of the book. The PM acknowledged my letter but thereafter no steps were taken. This is very unfortunate,” said Roy, adding that he wrote a letter to the PM again on Tuesday asking him to publish the book and declassify all the files related to Netaji.
“Both the Congress and the BJP are indifferent to the legacy of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who had formed the Indian National Army (INA). As many as 26,000 soldiers of that force had laid down their lives,” Roy said, pointing out that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had released all Netaji-related files available with the state government in 2015.
The TMC MP’s demand comes just two days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bengal on January 23 to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji. The Trinamool has accused the BJP of using Netaji as an election prop ahead of the Assembly polls in West Bengal.