Seeking to dispel the apprehension that there could have been tinkering with history through the recent weeding out of old government files, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said that the Bhartiya Janata Party “understands history’’ and will never negate the valuable contribution of Mahatma Gandhi in the country’s freedom struggle.
Responding to clarifications in the Rajya Sabha on his suo motu statement on the issue, Mr. Singh said, “As Home Minister let me give the assurance that the BJP will not break the continuity in history. India’s past is glorious and the role played by the Father of the Nation is valuable not just for India but the world. We have no agenda to change history.’’
Asserting that the files were destroyed as per norms set under the Manual of Office Procedure of the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, he said the government was willing to table in Parliament the list of files that had been destroyed. Files had been weeded out during the United Progressive Alliance government’s tenure as well and he could provide details to the House on that later.
Files to be digitised
Replying to CPI(M) member Sitaram Yechury’s charge that each file was disposed off in barely less than a minute, Mr. Singh said it took 500 personnel to destroy the files that pertained to the period August 2012 to May 2013.
“We have nothing to hide,’’ he said. “The files to be weeded out were reviewed and categorised by concerned section officers in three categories, including the important ones that needed to be kept in safe custody in micro-films; files that needed to be kept historically safe and files that must be preserved for 10 years.’’
Besides historic files that are older than 25 years, the files that are normally preserved relate to policy, policy-related decisions, important court cases, departments or institutions that are set up, sensitive matters, issues of public importance, international events that are inspirational and so on.
To Mr. Yechury’s charge that last week Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had refuted that any files were destroyed, Mr. Singh said his colleague was referring to any files relating to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.
Saying that the weeding out of files is a continuous process in the government, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suggested that the files be micro-filed, scanned or digitised and the government will soon start the process of digitisation.
Appealing to members not to be sceptical of the party’s “intention’’ and “integrity’’, the Minister said Gandhi’s assassination had upset not only India but the world. “Files relating to freedom movement and no file of historic importance have been destroyed,’’ he assured members, adding that if required he can come back to the House on queries relating to Subhash Chandra Bose and Jammu and Kashmir.