A 50-member delegation comprising 35 members of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose family and 15 associates streamed into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official 7 Race Course Road residence on 14 October at 5 pm. The national issue of declassification of all files relating to the brothers Sarat Chandra Bose and Subhas Chandra Bose was on the top of their minds. In spite of it being a hot and sultry day, the evening turned out to be rather pleasant. The officials at the Prime Minister’s residence were all geared to receive the honoured guests — a privilege given to them for the first time in independent India by any Prime Minister.
The family members and associates waited patiently for the Prime Minister’s arrival. There was complete silence and then we could hear the exchange of pleasantries taking place with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, Minister of State for Urban Development Babul Supriyo and BJP national spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh with the family members.
Suddenly, from the left of the lawn, Prime Minister Modi walked in casually, which took everybody by surprise. At first, there was a photo session with the family members, followed by a group photo with the associates. Thereafter, a short speech was given by the core members of the family.
The welcome address was given by Rajnath Singh. Members of the Bose family, representing each branch of Janaki Nath Bose’s family, addressed the Prime Minister. A memorandum was handed over to the Prime Minister on behalf of the delegates.The central issue, which each of the members stressed upon, apart from exchanging pleasantries, was to know the truth about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. We noticed that the Prime Minister was listening attentively to each of the family members who spoke. We could feel tension building up among the family members, as well as the entire nation’s expectation to a positive signal from the Prime Minister to start the process of transparency to know the truth about the Liberator of India. A sense of duty and responsibility toward the nation took over, and the expression on everyone’s face made the stress the Bose kin had to go through, clear. Then came the final moment, when the Prime Minister stood up to address the gathering. It was a historic moment. Even the weather seemed to change and with the raindrops, it seemed as if the Almighty was inspiring the Prime Minister to make an announcement, which would completely change the history of our freedom movement and alter the course for the generations in future.
Our Prime Minister did not disappoint the Bose family and the nation. He stated that his government did not believe in strangling history and it did not affect him to release the Bose files. The announcement was followed by a pin-drop silence, as if everyone missed a heartbeat.
Narendra Modi created history by taking a positive decision to unravel the mystery of independent India’s biggest cover-up. All the previous governments have been successful in keeping the records on the Bose brothers — Sarat and Subhas — hidden and locked in secret vaults.
The Prime Minister assured us that he would take up the matter with the foreign countries — to start with Russia and the United Kingdom — by having access to the classified documents from their archives. The Prime Minister highlighted a new era in the history of transparency by making this announcement.
The process of declassification of the Netaji files will begin on 23 January 2016 on the auspicious day of Netaji’s 119th birth anniversary. The nation has been eagerly waiting for this moment for the past 68 years and the people of India and the world who believe in transparency have reasons to celebrate.
A nation cannot prosper if it loses the thread of its history, heritage and culture and it seems the Prime Minister is committed to give back to the citizens of India their history, heritage and culture.
Chandra Kumar Bose is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s grandnephew and convenor of the Open Platform for Netaji.