West Bengal makes public cabinet papers from 1938 to 1947

Kolkata: The West Bengal government today made public the cabinet papers for ten years from 1938 to 1947, after declassifying 64 files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose earlier this month.

"Today we are doing something unique in the entire history of Independent India. We are putting cabinet papers in the public domain. It was never been done before. While doing this, we kept in mind various laws and rules," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.

"This ten-year-period is very important in pre-Independent India during which many important issues were recorded and many important cabinet decisions taken," she said.

Mamata Banerjee. File pic

Banerjee also released a CD containing information about papers of 401 cabinet meetings during that period, which had witnessed among other events, the Quit India Movement, the Great Bengal Famine and the Partition of Bengal.

The state government had declassified 64 Netaji files earlier on September 18. The Chief Minister said the papers would be available at the state archive, state information centre and state central library for the public, researchers, historians and students.

The work on digitisation of the files started in 2013, she said, adding that currently work was on to digitise cabinet papers of the next ten years after 1947. On the digitisation work, Banerjee said, "You must do it by submitting documents and maintaining transparency and to maintain transparency you must bring all these into public domain."

Stating that the truth should come out, she said there was no reason to keep all documents confined and that people have the right to know and expected that others should also follow suit.

"Why Netaji's daughter has to request her father's files to be made public? Why Lal Bahadur Shastri's son has to say that there was no post-mortem of his father's body? Truth should come out. We will declassify all cabinet meetings in phases," she said.

"Those papers may have been confidential in pre-Independent India, but today there is need to bring them into the public domain. That is why we made them public," Banerjee said.

"I am going to Delhi today. I will hand over all CDs related to Netaji to President Pranab Mukherjee tomorrow. Those CDs will also be sent to the Prime Minister, Union Home Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker and Vice-Chairman of the Rajya Sabha," she said.

Asked if she thought that politics was holding back the Centre from declassifying the Netaji files as the same party had promised to declassify the files before the elections, Banerjee said, "It is better not to comment. (The) Centre must face it. I understand, if I say something before the elections, I must keep my commitment, political consequences or not."

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