Home > History, India, Indian media, Politics > Indian Government hesitates to de-classify documents

Indian Government hesitates to de-classify documents


Indian Government’s reluctance to de-classify documents creates a conspiracy theory industry.

The business of secrecy?  |  Cartoon by Ben Sargent; source & courtesy - slate.com; on February 15, 2006  |  Click for image.

The business of secrecy? | Cartoon by Ben Sargent; source & courtesy – slate.com; on February 15, 2006 | Click for image.

The first excuse was trotted out by the Indian government in February 2008 when it refused to release the 1963 Henderson Brooks Report on the Sino-Indian War of 1962. The second excuse was given in August 2009, when the government refused to declassify a January 1966 document pertaining to the death of Premier Lal Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent.

It is difficult to believe these reasons given the efflux of time. It is, in fact, very frightening if security implications noted in 1963 have not yet been dealt with. But keeping things under wraps is the default position of the Indian government. It doesn’t have a declassification policy — documents are rarely released, and never without tedious prodding.

The last time any documents were declassified was back in 1997. Those archives centred on the Naval Mutiny of 1946, and on Netaji and the INA circa 1942-46. Earlier, in 1989, some documents from 1950-60 were released. Nothing has been declassified since 1997.

As a result of this tight-lipped attitude, conspiracy theories abound in Indian public life. There are persistent whispers about Shastri’s death, about the 1962 War, the death of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Netaji’s disappearance. (via Devangshu Datta: Institutionalised ignorance).

Protecting colonial legacy! Why …

Why would the Indian Government classify and withhold information pertaining to the colonial era? What purpose would this serve? For instance, what is the reason for delaying de-classification of the 1946 February Uprising by the ‘Naval Ratings’? That was indeed a milestone in India’s history.

Why hide!

The three legged horse of the Congress Party

I can see three reasons! Propaganda. Propaganda. Propaganda.

The Congress which has ruled India for more than 45 years of the last sixty years has arrogated all credit to itself for British departure from India. This propaganda leg is one of the three legs of the Congress post-colonial strategy.


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