Provide clarification on reported destruction of files and documents of historical nature, including those related to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi
This petition made change with 1,045 supporters!
UPDATE (12 July 2014): We are happy to note that Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh has stated in Parliament that documents pertaining to Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Louis Mountbatten and others are safe, while admitting that 11,100 files have been destroyed between June 5 and till as late as July 8, well after the matter was takn up by newspapers and blogs. However, a properly structured response to the Right to Information request filed on this matter by Purushottam Agrawal on July 3 2014 is still awaited.
Given the sensitivity of the matter, the potential irreversibility of action as we still don't know whether destroyed records were digitized prior to destruction,and as the Government has still not clarified which documents have been destroyed, the petition continues.
We, the undersigned scholars and students of Indian history and other concerned citizens and friends of India, insist that the Government of India immediately clarify its position regarding the reported destruction of 150,000 files and documents of historical nature, reportedly including documents chronicling events immediately following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, by its Ministry of Home Affairs.
The appended news reports contain worrying information that these priceless historical documents may not have been preserved in digital or any other format prior to destruction ostensibly on account of ‘cleaning up government offices’, and the silence of officials and ministers of the Government on a matter which is of critical importance to the preservation of history causes in us deep disquiet.
We demand of the Government of India and its Ministry of Home Affairs to provide a full and prompt reply to the Right to Information request filed by Purushottam Agrawal, scholar and a former Member of India’s Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), on July 3, 2014 asking:
1. As per the recent newspaper reports, is it true that a large number of files and documents pertaining to Ministry of Home Affairs have been destroyed in the last few weeks, i.e. after May 20th 2014?
2. Were these files and documents destroyed as per the extant Record Retention Schedules of Government of India?
3. Have the important files and documents been identified and retained?
4. Have the important files of permanent nature been retained in digital form or any other form?
5. Please inform where have the important files and documents of permanent nature been sent
6. Have these files and documents been sent to National Archives of India, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library and other libraries?
7. In case, the information contained in these important files and documents is to be retrieved in future for study and research purposes, where should one go?
8. Please provide a copy of the order and file noting vide which the instruction for destroying records was issued to the officials of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
Signed by -
S. H. Raza, painter, New Delhi
Shyam Benegal, film-maker, Mumbai
Gayatri Chakrabarti Spivak , Columbia University, New York
Romila Thapar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Sheldon Pollock, Columbia University, New York
Ashok Vajpayee, Poet, New Delhi
Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago
Purushottam Agrawal, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
Gyanendra Pande, Emory University, New York
Sudipta Kaviraj, Columbia University, New York
Partha Chaterjee, Columbia University, New York
Gyan Prakash, Princeton University
Frank Conlon, University of Washington
Vasudha Dalmia, University of California, Berkeley
Francis Robinson, Royal Holloway, University of London
Lawrence Cohen, University of California, Berkeley
Laurie Patton, Duke University
Raka Ray, University of California Berkeley
David Lorenzon, El Colegio De Mexico
Gopal Guru, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Thomas Blom Hansen, Stanford University
Ania Loomba, University of Pennsylvania
Suvir Kaul, University of Pennsylvannia
Zoya Hasan, Jawaharlal Nehru University (retired)
Om Thanvi, Editor, Jansatta, New Delhi
Swati Chattopadhya, University of California, Santa Barbara
V. N. Rao, Emory University
Harjot Singh Oberoi, University of British Columbia
Bishnupriya Ghosh, University of California, Santa Barbara
David Hardiman, University of Warwick
Balveer Arora, Jawaharlal Nehru University (retired)
Dilip Simeon, New Delhi
Jairus Banaji, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Nirmalangshu Mukherji, University of Delhi
Rammanohar Reddy, Editor, Economic and Political Weekly
Sudhir Chandra, Institute of Advanced Studies, Nantes
Tapti Guha-Thakurta, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences
Juan Cole, University of Michigan
Sumit Guha, University of Texas, Austin
Bhanu Bharti, Theatre Director
Geraldine Forbes, State University of New York, Oswego
Teesta Setalvad, Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai
Javed Anand, Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai
Mrinalini Sinha, University of Michigan
Anand Teltumbde, Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights
Aloka Parashar Sen, University of Hyderabad
Kumar Ketkar, Chief Editor, Dainik Divya Marathi
John S Hawley, Bernard College, Columbia University
Philip Lutdgendorf, University of Iowa
Linda Hess, Stanford University
Francesca Orsini, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Tulsi Ram, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Janaki Nair, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Ruby Lal, Emory University
Akshay Bakaya, Inalco, Paris
Raza Mir, William Paterson University
Indrani Chatterjee, University of Texas, Austin
Ben Baer, Princeton University
Kamala Viswesaran, University of Texas
Geetanjali Shree, writer, New Delhi
Suman Keshari, poet, New Delhi
Ashwini Tambe, University of Maryland – College Park
Sanjay Joshi, Northern Arizona University
Ravi Kant, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
Ananya Vajpeyi, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
William Gould, University of Leeds
Andrew J Nicholson, State University of New York at Stony Brook
Ajay Skaria, University of Minnesota
Mitra Sharafi, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Sanjam Ahluwalia, Northern Arizona University
Subho Basu, McGill University, Montreal
Anjali Arondekar, University of California, Santa Cruz
Durba Mitra, Fordham University
Hilal Ahmed, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
Hemachandran Karah, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
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