What Happened To Netaji? The Quest Continues

Anuj Dhar

May 30, 2015, 12:30 PM | Updated Feb 11, 2016, 09:45 AM IST

The Intelligence Bureau keeps dodging RTI queries on spying on Subhash Chandra Bose’s kin even after he was supposed to be dead for many years. What are they afraid of?

The Intelligence Bureau has turned down an RTI application of this writer seeking information and records concerning spying on the kin of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, which was first highlighted by Swarajya in December 2014.

In a response that is clearly evasive, the Central Public Information Officer of the intelligence agency has curtly stated in response to my carefully drafted RTI application that the IB is exempt from providing answers under the section 24(1) of the RTI Act.

In stating so, the IB has completely ignored the contention in my application that, “while the RTI Act exempts IB from giving any information, under the clause 24(1) of the Act, the exemption given, according to the same clause, is not applied in case of the ‘allegations of corruption and human rights violations'”.

Evidently, the IB does not think intrusion into the privacy of those who are no threat to society constitutes a violation of rights. The agency is apparently still living in the Nehruvian era when India was a past master in doing what Nixonian America came to learn much later.

The worrying aspect is that the IB has gone ahead and denied me information even though my application was seen and duly forward to the IB by Joint Secretary, Internal Security Division in the Ministry of Home Affairs, under which the agency functions.

The MHA had agreed with my contention that the human rights violation charge was applicable here and hence forwarded it after initial waffling.

“Intrusion into the privacy of those posing no threat to national security, misuse of intelligence agencies, snooping on freedom fighters, their kin, journalists and passing on illegally gathered information about Indian citizens to former colonial bosses all make up for that,” I had clearly stated in my application, adding that the spying instance was reminiscent of the Watergate scandal of America.

The waffling on the part of IB is somewhat natural considering the tough questions I had put: “Who authorized the snooping on the Netaji family members and for what purpose; how long did it continue,” was the first one. I then sought “all records connected to Netaji Research Bureau, Emilie Schenkl, Anita Pfaff, Sarat Bose, Suresh Bose, Amiya Nath Bose, Subrata Bose, Dwijendra Nath Bose, Sisir Bose, Krishna Bose, Prof Sugata Bose and other members of the Bose family”.

To buttress my point of intrusion into the privacy of the Bose family members, I even appended copies of relevant documents with the application:

[The National Archives, New Delhi]
[The National Archives, New Delhi]
Also sought by me was the entire correspondence between SB Shetty of IB and KM Bourne of MI5 in view of clinching documentary evidence coming from a declassified MI5 file that IB had passed on intelligence concerning Bose to the British intelligence after Independence.
[The National Archives, Kew]
[The National Archives, Kew]
To top it all, I even incorporated in the application a list of 5 still secret IB files, whose disclosure I sought, explaining that their contents “prima facie show that people/institutions spied upon posed no threat to national security”.

One such file (No 17/DG/83) is about journalist Hemandra Nath Pandit who was making some inquiry about the missing INA treasure. Two more files are about “Aims and Objectives of Netaji Research Bureau” and views of different political parties on the issue “whether Netaji Subhas Bose is still alive or not”. The latter was created in the year 1970.

File NumberSubjectContents
17/DG/83Netaji Subhas Chandra BoseA note on Hemandra Nath Pandit, journalist, Calcutta. He made a request to examine the contents of two suitcases of Subhas Chandra Bose
I/INA/D/60INA personnel- General fileCorrespondence with MEA on Netaji Research Bureau, Aims and objectives
25/DG/70 INANote on the issue ‘Whether Netaji Subhas Bose is still alive or not’, comments and views of different political parties
15/D/87(13)Enquiry related to Subhas Chandra BoseRegarding exploitation of Netaji’s name by political leaders and others
I/INA/D/61(1)VPapers released by a former JDNotes on statements of general public on Netaji’s death, formation of Shah Nawaz Committee

Now that I have been handed out a rejection letter in elegant Hindi, I will appeal with the Appellate Authority in the IB. But I am not very hopeful of getting information from the intelligence agency, unless the media and political class take up the matter in a befitting manner. Public support by way of shares on Facebook and RTs on Twitter in national interest is also solicited.

For more than a decade, Anuj Dhar has devoted himself to resolving the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Subhash Chandra Bose. His 2012 bestselling book India's Biggest Cover-up (Netaji Rahasya Gatha in Hindi) triggered the demand for declassification of the Bose files.

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