West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday announced her government's decision to declassify 64 files on freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, saying the mystery surrounding his disappearance needs to be put at rest.
"Still the mystery surrounding Netaji's disappearance continues to be unsolved. So whatever files we have, we will declassify them which may help in unravelling the mystery.
"From next Friday (September 18), all the 64 files that we have will be open for public. They will be kept at the city police archive," Banerjee told mediapersons at the state secretariat.
Netaji's descendants and researchers, who have been steadfastly campaigning for declassification of the secret government files, welcomed Banerjee's decision saying it will create pressure on the Narendra Modi-led central government which is claimed to have at least 100 such files in its possession.
Citing various reasons including adverse effect on foreign relations, bureaucrats at the prime minister's office, home ministry and ministry of external affairs have so far stonewalled attempts to access the classified files that can throw light on Netaji's disappearance.
Banerjee said the files did not concern internal security or the country's international relations.
"I don't think the documents relate to any issues concerning internal security or the like.
"Even we were not aware that we had such files. We believed all such files on Netaji were with the central government," said Banerjee, adding that top city police officers have been entrusted to allow people to access the documents in a systematic manner.
"Netaji lived here, his fight for the country's freedom began from here, so it is only appropriate that the people of Bengal get to know all the facts about him. People deserve to know about his last days," added Banerjee.
The chief minister also said the process of digitisation of all government files between 1937 and 1947 will also be undertaken.
Netaji's grand nephew and convener of Open Platform for Netaji, Chandra Kumar Bose welcomed the decision.
Open Platform for Netaji is a forum comprising a host of descendants of the nationalist leader and researchers steadfastly campaigning for declassification of the secret Netaji files.
"We wholeheartedly welcome the decision. It is a great decision and will pave the way in unravelling what actually happened to Netaji. I think her decision will also prompt the central government to take a decision in this regard," Chandra Kumar told IANS.
Earlier in April, another of Netaji's grandnephews, Surya Kumar Bose had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Berlin raising the issue of declassification of the files.
Anuj Dhar, the author of "India's Biggest Cover-up", said Banerjee's decision will create pressure on the Modi government to release the files.
"Most of the important files that can really blow the Netaji cover-up are with the central government. Mamata Banerjee has given a huge boost to our fight for declassification. This will surely create pressure on Modi government," Dhar, whose next book deals with the issue of declassification, told IANS.