Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Following PM Modi’s directive, home ministry destroys 1.5 lakh files

NB: In the absence of any assurance that files of historical value will be preserved or even vetted before being destroyed, ("asked if these files of historic value were saved or junked, an official expressed ignorance"), all those who respect knowledge and historical research have cause to be gravely alarmed at this news. This is particularly so in light of the attempt of the previous NDA government, under AB Vajpayee, to tamper with Mahatma Gandhi's Collected Works (see more on this below). As also the Gujarat governments actions with regard to riot-related intelligence records. The files destined for the shredders may be of the highest historical value and it is unacceptable that the Prime Minister and Home Minister should destroy them without a transparent vetting process by respected scholars.

India's historical archive is not the private property of the RSS and Mr Modi. Scholars and intellectuals regardless of ideological persuasion need to protest against this, and seek clarifications and assurances from the Government that nothing will be destroyed without being examined for its archival value. In the absence of such assurance, these actions can and must be condemned as an act of intellectual vandalism on par with the burning of libraries and destruction of human knowledge by history's greatest tyrants. All officials should kindly remember that they are servants of the Constitution, and not of the government of the day. If they come across files which are of historical importance, they are duty bound to save them from destruction - DS

Following PM Modi’s directive, home ministry destroys 1.5 lakh files
NEW DELHI: On the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union home ministry is on a cleanliness drive and, in less than a month, has destroyed nearly 1.5 lakh files that had gathered dust for years. While going through the steel almirahs of North Block, officials also found some interesting files which gave an insight to some historic moments. One of these files was about the presidential sanction given to pay India's first governor general Lord Mountbatten a princely sum of Rs 64,000 as TA/DA allowance for moving back to his country. In today's time, the amount will be equivalent to several crores of rupees, a ministry official said. Even the salary of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was sent to the calamity fund after he refused it, the files showed. Another interesting snippet that came out was that after India's first President Rajendra Prasad refused to take any pension, it was eventually sent to the government's calamity fund.  Another file has details about the Cabinet meeting that was called before the death of Mahatma Gandhi was announced, an official said. Asked if these files of historic value were saved or junked, an official expressed ignorance

NDA government's (1998) brazen attempt to 'revise' Gandhi's Collected Works
Here is the report of the first NDA government's (1998) brazen attempt to 'revise' Gandhi's Collected Works. Hundreds of whimsical deletions and changes were noticed by well-known scholars and Gandhians in India and around the world, who viewed them as an insult to scholarship, and demanded an end to such attempts to play with historical documents. Read the history of the controversy. Tridip Suhrud, now director of Sabarmati Ashram, wrote a detailed analysis of this shameless behaviour in EPW in November 2004. It was only after the defeat of the NDA government that the fraudulently 'revised' edition of the CWMG was withdrawn, in 2005. See more:
Modi says Congress committed 'sin' of partition // The Non-politics of the RSS

Also see
Gujarat asked to file report on ‘destroyed records' (2011)
The G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta Judicial Enquiry Commission probing the post-Godhra communal riots, on Wednesday directed the Gujarat government to file a report within 10 days on riot-related intelligence department records, which are said to have been destroyed. The directive was issued by the Commission on an application by the Jan Sangharsh Manch, a voluntary organisation that represents the riot victims before the Commission, following claims by State government pleader S.B. Vakil that some of the intelligence department records on the 2002 communal riots were destroyed in 2007 as per “standard procedure.” The Commission, which was hearing the Manch application, directed the Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence) to file a report within 10 days detailing specific records of the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB), which were destroyed and those which were still available. The Commission said orders on the Manch application would be issued after the ADGP filed his report. Mr. Vakil created a flutter last week by claiming before the media that some of the documents, particularly relating to the SIB's telephone registers, the police vehicle log books and officers' movement diaries covering the 2002 riots, were no longer available as they were destroyed in 2007 following the “standard procedure.”
The Manch moved the application before the Commission on Monday seeking directions to the State government to clarify whether the SIB records had been destroyed. Stating that “the documents in controversy can have a direct bearing on the reference pending before the Commission for enquiry,” the Manch pleaded that the Home Secretary be directed to file an affidavit stating which specific records were destroyed covering the period February 27-May 31, 2002. It also sought fixation of responsibility on the officer who gave the orders to destroy the documents and the reasons for doing so. “The government should also state and produce the certificate of actual destruction of the documents so destroyed,” the Manch demanded. It also wanted to know whether documents or records of the office of DGP and the State control room as well as the offices of Police Commissioners of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot and their city control rooms for the same period were also among those destroyed. The Manch sought a directive to the State government either to produce the necessary records or permit inspection of all the log books of the vehicles used by DGP K. Chakravarthi, ADGP G.C. Raigad, the then IGP, O.P. Mathur, Ahmedabad Police Commissioner P.C. Pande, the then Deputy Commissioner of the Intelligence Bureau, Sanjiv Bhatt, and some other police officers.
Sri Lanka, thirty one years after: Burning of the Jaffna Public Library, May 1981

Twenty years after - the destruction of books in Sarajevo, 1992