Confirmed victory

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 1,042 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The appended news reports contain worrying information that these priceless historical documents may not have been preserved in digital or any other format prior to destruction ostensibly on account of ‘cleaning up government offices’, and the silence of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. 



Relevant news reports:



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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