Azad Hind Fauj/Indian National Army (INA): Few Historical Facts

No Indians can forget Azad Hind Fauj/ the Indian National Army’s (INA) contribution in the freedom movement (Founded on 21 October 1943) . While I was in some countries, many people of Pakistan and Bangladesh talked about the enormous contributions of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and INA/ Azad Hind Fauj. Honestly, writing many told me if Netaji Subhas would have been alive probably partition would not have taken place. Even Mahatma Gandhiji opposed the idea of ‘Two-nation Theory’. He declared, “If the Congress wishes to accept partition, it will be over my dead body. So long as I am alive, I will never agree to the partition of India. Nor will I, if I can help it, allow the Congress to accept it”.

  Indian National Army (INA/ Azad Hind Fauj) was formed by two  great persons Sri Rash Behari Bose and Sri Mohan Singh  in Southeast Asia during World War II. The main objective was to secure Indian independence from British rule. To attain the same Azad Hind Fauj/INA formed an alliance with the Empire of Japan in the latter’s campaign in the Southeast Asian theatre of WWII ( name given to the campaigns of the Pacific War in Burma, Ceylon, India, Thailand, the Philippines, Indochina, Malaya and Singapore).

  The first INA collapsed and was disbanded in December 1942 after differences between the INA leadership and the Japanese military over its role in Japan’s war in Asia. It is pertinent to mention that the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters in October, 1942 set up the Fujiwara Kikan, or the F-kikan, in Bangkok, headed by the Major Fujiwara Iwaichi, chief of intelligence of the 15th army.  As an INA member, Mohan Singh had good relations with the members of Fujiwara Kikan, but he was soon disillusioned with the Japanese Army’s behaviour. It is believed that they wanted to use the Indian National Army only as a part of Japanese army to fulfil their own objectives. In the meantime, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose arrived in Japan in 1943 and INA was invigorated.

    More than 60,000 soldiers of Indian origin were associated with Azad Hind Fauj/Indian National Army who were prisoners of war in those days and because of the initiative of Sri Mohan Singh they joined in INA/Azad Hind Fauj to fight against the British.  Out of them about 26,000 soldiers sacrificed their lives so their sacrifice must be saluted.  It may be mentioned  that the I.N.A. brigades, named after Gandhi, Azad, Nehru and Subhas, distinguished themselves in several battles which they won because  of complete bravery, courage and discipline. The INA/Azad Hind Fauj’s first success was capturing Moirang of Manipur.  On 18 April 1944, the suicide squads led by Col. Shaukat Malik broke through the British defence and captured Moirang. After Moirang, INA penetrated the Kohima road, creating a threat to the British positions in both Silchar (presently in Assam) and Kohima (now capital of Nagaland state). Col. Gulzara Singh’s column had entered 250 miles into India. Anyway rest is history as Azad Hind Fauj/INA could not succeed to come up to Delhi. Azad Hind had diplomatic relations with nine countries. These  were  Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan, Fascist Italy, the Independent State of Croatia, Wang Jingwei’s Government in Nanjing, Thailand, Burma, Manchukuo and the Philippines. On the declaration of its formation in Singapore, President Eamon de Valera of the Irish Free State sent a note of congratulations to Bose.

It has to be admitted that  INA’s activities influenced the decision to leave India by the British. In this  regard, the views of Mr. Clement Richard Attlee, who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951 may be mentioned. Mr. Attlee cited several reasons, the most important of which were the INA activities of Subhas Chandra Bose, which weakened the very foundation of the British Empire in India, and the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny which made the British realise that the support of the Indian armed forces could no longer be relied upon.  It is pertinent to mention that former Army officer Sri G.D. Bakshi in his book “ Bose or Gandhi: Who Got India Her Freedom?” appreciated Netaji’s role in the freedom movement. He  wrote on Facebook, “They (British) were not in the least bothered by the Non-violent movement of the Congress. Indeed in 1942 Quit India movement had been decisively crushed with ease. The INA trials and Naval mutiny generated such serious alarm that contingency plans for evacuation of all British nationals and soldiers from India were drawn up by Commander in chief Fd Mshl Auchinleck. Wavell (Viceroy) clearly told London they had just 18 months to get out of India before they lost the power to shape events.”

  On this auspicious occasion of 21st  October 2020, my great salute to the all INA/ Azad Hind Fauj  members. 

The following websites have been consulted to write the article

  1.  www.aicc.org.in/indian_national_army.php  
  2. https://enacademic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/618570
  3. https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2020/01/24/bose-or-gandhi-who-won-india-freedom-g-d-bakshi-launches-hindi-book.
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Indian_Navy_mutiny
  5. https://www.mkgandhi.org/articles/gandhi-partition.html

Dr Shankar Chatterjee, Hyderabad

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