Sixty-four secret files relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose that could help throw light on his mysterious disappearance--an enduring enigma for seven decades -- were on Friday released by West Bengal government with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asking the Centre to follow suit.
Fulfilling a long-standing demand, Banerjee described as "historic" the declassification of the closely guarded files on one of the country's foremost nationalist leaders and said people should know the truth. The Centre has 130 files.
Hidden in police and government lockers for years, the 64 files containing 12,744 pages were declassified here in the presence of Bose's family members who have been demanding that information on the leader of the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army-INA) be made public.
The files displayed in glass cascades in the Kolkata Police Museum would be made accessible to the public from Monday, City Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha said.
Of the 64 files, 55 were with the Kolkata police while another nine were with the state police. Purakayastha handed over a DVD containing the files in digitised format to the family members of Netaji who welcomed its release.
"Today is a historic day. Our government has made all Netaji files public. People have a right to know about the brave son of India," Banerjee, who visited the police museum, tweeted.
Later, she said, "We made a beginning. The people should know the truth. Let the central government also declassify the files (on Netaji). Let good sense prevail on all of us. You cannot suppress the truth. Let truth come out.
"In 70 years, the mystery has not been solved. We did not know what happened (to Netaji). It is unfortunate. How long you can keep it under secrecy. You read the files in details."
Welcoming the declassification of the 64 files, Chandra Bose, Netaji's grandnephew said, "It is a correct step. Now it is the duty of the central government to declassify 130 files it has with it."
Chandra Bose said, "By keeping the files (on Netaji) under secrecy for 70 long years, some leaders have committed treachery towards the country. It is the duty of the central government to declassify those files to expose those leaders."
He said that it is not possible to keep those files under secrecy any longer.
Another family member of Netaji and a former Trinamool Congress Krishna Bose said that Mamata Banerjee has taken a bold step by declassifying the files.
"So far there was gossip, now truth will come out. I am happy that the files have been made public", she said, adding that the Centre should also do so.
Bose's family members and researchers have repeatedly maintained the secret files lying in Delhi are of significance, as they contain the answer to the key questions on the disappearance of the firebrand leader and the subsequent years.
The Prime Minister's Office in August told the Central Information Commission it cannot declassify files related to Bose as it will adversely affect relations with foreign countries.
Union Minister of State for Home Kiran Rijiju said the Centre has to keep in mind supreme national interests while taking any decision on the release of the secret files.
Image: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Photograph: Keystone/Getty Images