NEW DELHI: In what is likely to bring a major embarrassment for the Congress party, two declassified Intelligence Bureau (IB) files have reportedly revealed that the government under the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru spied on the family of Subhash Chandra Bose for approximately 20 years.
A media report claims that the spying on the freedom fighter’s family took place between 1948 and 1968 at the time when Nehru was the Prime Minister of India. While Nehru died on May 27, 1964, the reports suggest that the spying continued for four years even after his death.
“The files show the IB resumed British-era surveillance on the two Bose family homes in Calcutta: 1 Woodburn Park and 38/2 Elgin Road. Apart from intercepting and copying letters written by Bose's family members, agency sleuths shadowed them on their domestic and foreign travels,” said the report.
According to the reports, Subhash Chandra Bose’s nephew siblings Sisir Kumar Bose and Amiya Nath Bose were also under the surveillance.
National spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MJ Akbar in the report alleged that the spying was done as Congress was scared of Bose’s return and felt he was the only leader who could mobilize the opposition the Congress in the 1957 polls.
While on one hand, Bose’s only daughter, 73-year-old Anita Bose speaking to a news channel said that she was not too surprised about the surveillance, Chandra Kumar Bose, Netaji’s grand-nephew on the other hand expressed that a judicial inquiry should be conducted in the issue. “That is the least that India can do today for him (Bose),” he said.
The disclosures from these declassified IB files come after the Prime Minister’s Office in February had stated that the PM has no power to declassify top secret files connecting to the disappearance of Subhas Chandra Bose.
“There are no mentions in Manual of Office Procedure or Public Records Rules, 1997, regarding any discretionary power vested in PM to de-classify records,” the PMO had said.
The response from the government came after an RTI application was filed by an IT professional based in Thiruvananthapuram Sreejith Panickar to the PMO asking the government “Does the Prime Minister have any prerogative to issue an order to declassify the files and send them to the National Archives?”
When a Delhi-based RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal last year appealed to the PMO to reveal records related to Bose, it had declined arguing that the ‘disclosure would prejudicially affect relation with foreign countries.’
While Netaji was under a house arrest by the British in then Calcutta, he had fled in 1941 to look for international support for his hard work to liberate India and formed the Indian National Army with the help of the Japanese. Not much is known about his whereabouts ever since Subhash Chandra Bose went missing in 1945.