Q: Sir, talking about your preferred genre of reads, what do you like to flip through in general?
Srinivasan: I really liked the last session on book publishing actually. And talking about book preferences, I write both fiction and so called serious International Relations books.
Q: Which written work of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has attracted you the most?
Srinivasan: Basically, I think there’s less about what he’s written excepting his speeches, and more about people who have written about him. So, I’ve read Rudrangshu Mukherjee’s book , Sukanto Bose’s book, Leonard Gordon’s book and I think that, it’s more about what people have written about him, rather than what he’s written. I’m sorry, I’ve only read his speeches at the Congress meetings. At this session I hope we can touch upon the more difficult parts because everyone probably knows about the rest of the story, as it is in front of us.
Q: What according to you took the previous governments prior to the present one to start with the declassification process of the “Not to Go Out of Office” files”?
Srinivasan: (laughs) I think it’s a good thing of course, maybe long overdue. I don’t know if there’s anything left to come out. I suspect most of it is now out, I don’t know if there’s anything that is still held back. I’m glad that it’s out now. (There wasn’t probably any reason why it should have been kept a secret for so long I suppose?)- Precisely, I agree with you. I have no political view on that, because I think that it’s simple history and the archives need to be made public. And of course when they did come out, it was a bit of a “damp squib”, a sensation. So, there was no reason for it to be kept back. It seemed to have nothing to do with contemporary relations with any important country.
Q: Justice Mukherjee Commission of enquiry (JMCI) report suggested that the story of Bose’s death in a plane crash was “nothing but a smokescreen”. Why was that so?
Srinivasan: You really want me to talk about that? I think it was very good firstly, that the government rejected this report. Secondly, I can’t avoid the impression that he seems to have neglected the most basic principles of investigation, which is to look at the facts. I can only assume that he was influenced by certain quarters, but I wouldn’t like to speculate who those quarters were.
Q: What does your research and learning conclude on the story of Netaji’s death?
Srinivasan: Okay, I haven’t personally done any research on this, I have just read the books I’ve mentioned already, latest being Ashis Ray’s. I think that what I’ve said earlier to Ashis already is the last word on the subject. We do not need to look any further. This book has all the evidence, all the witnesses, most of whom have died but mostly the descendants of the eye witnesses are still alive. And, Mr. Ray has covered the ground very thoroughly. I think that there is nothing more to say on this subject. It has been concluded that there was a plane crash, Netaji died, and his remains are in Japan. What more is there? I think that’s the end of the story. No ifs and buts.
Interviewed by Astha Pramanik