New Delhi : A political row broke out over reports on declassified intelligence files suggesting that the government of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru snooped on freedom struggle icon Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s family for about 16 years. 

The surveillance reportedly began in 1948, three years after he is supposed to have died in a plane crash. The declassified files show that the Intelligence Bureau heavily tailed Bose’s family, secretly read their personal letters, including those having references to his Austrian wife Emilie Schenkl. 

Nehru and Bose shared a good rapport before the latter quit the Congress in 1939, due to differences with the former prime minister, to float his own party. The documents have been handed over to the National Archives by the Home Ministry so that they can be accessed by the public.

The ruling BJP lapped up the reports to express its “shock” and “surprise” on Nehru putting the firebrand freedom fighter’s family under intense surveillance and targeted the Congress for making

snooping a habit. On the other hand, the Congress denied the charges and attributed the reports to the NDA government’s “sinister propaganda of selective leaks and half truths” to malign Nehru. 

“The BJP today is definitely taking a stand that this is really surprising and shocking. Already on the dimension of snooping, research that has come out, I certainly feel that till 2010-11 snooping has become a part of Congress’ DNA...We express our concern,” Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters.

Bose’s extended family, too, was dismayed over the reports but insisted that the Narendra Modi government should make the files public.

During the last Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had demanded making public secret files to unravel the mystery behind Bose’s death. But after Modi came to power, the Prime Minister’s Office refused to reveal contents of 39 secret files on the ground that it would compromise diplomatic relations – a position the previous UPA regime took to keep the sensitive issue under wraps.  

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