The Defence Ministry has brought in a policy to publish, compile, archive and declassify histories of wars and operations under which everything will be officially recorded, and handed over to the National Archives. However, this will not take away the government’s discretionary power over the records. It will allow the government to have discretionary powers over the records it finds sensitive.
The Defence Ministry has mentioned on Saturday that, Defence minister Rajnath Singh has approved the policy of compilation, archiving, declassification, publication of wars, operations histories by Defence Minister. Under this policy all the organizations under the MOD Integrated Defence Staff, Services, Indian Coast Guards and Assam Rifles will transfer all the records including letter of proceedings, war diaries and operational record books to the ‘division of History’ of the council for the proper archive and history writings.
Further it added that, there should be time to time amendment of Public Record Rule of 1997 and Public Record Act 1993. It also added that the records should be declassified in 25 years and the records older than 25 years should be appraised and sent to the National Archive of India.
Importantly, this does mean that the reports like Hender Brooks-Bhagat report an operational review of war with China back in 1962, which is still classified, is tend to make public. This decision lies in the hands of the government of what to make public and what not.
However, the need for such a policy on declassification of war records was recommended by Kargil Review Committee led by K Subrahmanyam as well as NN Vohra. This was done in order to provide an analysis of the lessons and avoid future mistakes.
As per The Indian Express reports, the ministry stated that the timely publication of war histories will give people “accurate account of the events, provide authentic material for academic research and counter the unfounded rumours.”