Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose
Handout portrait of the leader of the Indian National Army Subhas Chandra Bose that is on display at the Netaji Research Bureau in Calcutta.Reuters File

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has refused to make public the files pertaining to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's mysterious disappearance and death saying the disclosure will "prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries."

"Disclosure of documents contained in these files would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries. As such, these files are exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(a) read with Section 8(2) of the Right to Information Act," PTI cited Prime Minister Office's reply to a RTI.

Ironically, the minister who refused to disclose nearly 39 classified files on Bose's mysterious death had once asked the earlier UPA government for the same. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was the BJP President during UPA rule, had asked the Congress-led UPA government to reveal details of Netaji's mysterious death.

"The entire country is impatient to know how Netaji died and under what circumstances," The Hindu quoted him as saying at a book release function in January this year on the occasion of Bose's 117th birth anniversary.

However, when it was BJP-led government's turn to share the files with RTI applicant – activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal – it refused.

"The government has just given me the subject matter but not the copies. I had asked for both. The response is partially satisfactory. What is the government scared of," IBNLive quoted Agrawal as saying.

The PMO has just shared the list of files documented between 1953 to 2000 that includes t two "Top Secret" files on correspondences with and about Netaji's widow and daughter (last amended in 1971) and the transfer of his ashes to India (created in 1998) and another two "Top Secret" files about inquiry reports by Justice Mukherjee Commission.

The others files include two on the Indian National Army's treasure, created in 1956-57 and 1988, a file marked "Secret" contains a 1991 document titled "Bharat Ratna Award – Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Subhas Chandra Bose, JRD Tata, Morarji Desai."

The files that the NDA government is refusing to share also contain papers on acquisition of Netaji's birth place – Jankinath Bhavan at Cuttack by the Orissa government, and two references from Professor Samar Guha, MP, in 1990-91 on his disappearance. Among all, the government has also refused to share files marked as "Unclassified."

In his letter to the PMO's Appellate Authority, Agrawal said the government had not named the nation with which diplomatic relations will be affected and added that "in case it is the United Kingdom, then a much larger public interest is involved in making the revelations."

"The Central Public Information Officer did not specify the name of the country with which relations would be prejudicially affected... Here in this case, public interest definitely overweighs the harm protected, where even several commissions/committees have been formed by the Union government to probe the mystery," Agrawal said.

Agrawal had filed his first application in this regard 14 months ago, but he plans to continue filing more applications until he gets the files.