Defence Ministry okays policy to archive, declassify histories of wars, operations

By Indian Express

The Defence Ministry has brought in a new policy to compile, publish, archive and declassify all war histories and histories of operations, under which everything will be officially recorded within five years, and will be handed over to the National Archives.

However, the government will continue to have discretionary powers over withholding any such records it finds sensitive.

The Defence Ministry mentioned in a statement on Saturday that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh “has approved the policy on archiving, declassification and compilation/publication of war/operations histories by the Ministry of Defence” under which “each organisation under the Ministry of Defence such as Services, Integrated Defence Staff, Assam Rifles and Indian Coast Guard, will transfer the records, including war diaries, letters of proceedings & operational record books, etc., to the History Division” of the ministry for “proper upkeep, archival and writing the histories”.

It said that the “responsibility for declassification of records rests with the respective organisations as specified in the Public Record Act 1993 and Public Record Rules 1997, as amended from time to time”.

Further, the statement said that according to the new policy “records should ordinarily be declassified in 25 years” and “records older than 25 years should be appraised by archival experts and transferred to the National Archives of India once the war/operations histories have been compiled”.

Sources, however, said that it does not mean that reports such as the Henderson Brooks-Bhagat report, an operational review of the 1962 war with China, which is still classified, will automatically be made public.

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