India is set to get new insights into the life of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi releasing 100 new files pertaining to the freedom fighter on his birthday on Saturday, 23 January.
An official statement from the Ministry of Culture said the move is expected to "meet the long-standing public demand to access these files; it will also facilitate scholars to carry out further research on Netaji".
Sources in the ministry told IBTimes India the files would be in two formats — digital as well as physical. In fact, 25 of the 100 files, which have reportedly undergone preliminary conservation treatment, have been digitised.
After the prime minister releases them, they will be available for the public to see at the National Archives of India in Delhi. Digital copies will be available on the National Archives website.
In 1997, the National Archives of India had received 990 declassified files pertaining to the Indian National Army from the Ministry of Defence, and in 2012, 1,030 files and items — pertaining to the Khosla Commission (271 files or items) and the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry (759 files or items) — were declassified from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
All these files and items are already in the public domain under the Public Records Rules, 1997.
There have, however, been repeated calls from different quarters for the government to declassify other documents pertaining to the founder of the Forward Bloc, in hopes that they would shed light on his end, which is still shrouded in mystery.
Modi, in his meeting with some members of Netaji's family in New Delhi on 14 October, 2015, had announced that the government would declassify files pertaining to him and make them accessible to the public.
Subsequently, the first lot of 33 files was declassified by the Prime Minister's Office and handed over to the National Archives on 4 December, 2015.
Interestingly, the prevailing view in political circles is the BJP-led NDA government has decided to release the files now because the saffron party will look to gain political mileage from them in the West Bengal Assembly elections later this year.
The BJP, which is only starting to make inroads into what was once a Left bastion, sees the ruling Trinamool Congress as its biggest challenge, with the Left parties struggling to reassert their identity in West Bengal.