Thursday, June 22, 2017

Centre will not respond to RTI pleas on Netaji

The Hindu: New Delhi: Thursday, June 22, 2017.
The Home Ministry has decided not to provide any details about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. It will instead ask applicants to visit the website, launched by the NDA government in 2015, which contains declassified documents on Netaji’s life and death.
The Ministry took the decision a month after it goofed up in a RTI response that “Netaji died in 1945 in a plane crash in Taiwan”. Later, it had to issue a clarification that the reply was based on a “conclusion arrived at by the then UPA government in 2006”, and it was willing to examine any new facts if they came up in future.
“Since all the files and documents pertaining to Netaji have been declassified and are in the public domain, we have directed officials not to frame any response and instead direct them to the website,” said a senior Home Ministry official.
The “death” of Netaji in an “air crash” is an emotive issue particularly in West Bengal and the ruling BJP has on several occasions blamed the Congress for sidelining Netaji in its bid to promote the “Nehru-Gandhi” family.
The Congress has accused the BJP of conducting a “mischievous political campaign” to appropriate Netaji.
‘Casual handling’
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had accused the NDA government of handling the matter “casually.”
On September 18, 2015, the Bengal government made its files on Netaji public and hours later the NDA government announced that it has constituted a panel to examine whether the files with the Centre could be released in public domain.
On January 23, 2016 Prime Minister Narendra Modi released digital copies of 100 files related to Netaji on to meet “the long-standing demand by public to access these files.”
Digital copies
The National Archives of India, which maintains the website subsequently, released digital copies of 200 declassified files in seven batches from March 29 to September 30, 2016.
Ms. Banerjee slammed the Centre for handling the matter “in a casual manner” and claimed to have drawn the attention of the Prime Minister.
“After considering the reports of Shahnawaz Committee, Justice GD Khosla Commission and Justice Mukherjee Commission of Enquiry, the government has come to the conclusion that Netaji has died in plane crash in 1945,” said the reply to the RTI plea filed by an activist Sayak Sen.
The official said that instead of “has,” the reply should have said, “had,” which made it suggest that the government had come to a conclusion about Netaji’s death.