Netaji’s legacy

Leading his men:Bose with the Indian National Army.Photo: The Hindu Archives  

October 21, 1943 marked an important day in Indian history as the Azad Hind Government was established in Singapore. The Provisional Government meant Free India, and it was proclaimed on this day with Subhas Chandra Bose taking over as President in those territories of British India that had been captured by Japan. Bose was convinced that an armed struggle against the mighty British was the only way to throw them out, and sought Japanese assistance. The Japanese government handed over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the new state, and Bose announced that Azad Hind was joining Japan in the war against the U.S. and Britain. The army comprised mainly the Indian POWs (prisoners of war) captured by Japan during the Malayan campaign at Singapore. It also had diplomatic relations with nine other countries: Germany, the Empire of Japan, Italy, the Independent State of Croatia, Wang Jingwei’s Government in Nanjing, Thailand, the State of Burma, Manchukuo and the Second Philippine Republic.

Calculated moves

On 26 January 1941, Bose started his journey through Calcutta to the North-West frontier with Afghanistan, which was also under British rule, to the Soviet Union. Here, he tried to get support for an armed revolt in India, but was sent to Germany, where Bose was caught up in discussions with the Foreign and Propaganda Ministries. They discussed on an intensive recruiting campaign among Indian POWs. This was a re-initiated plan meant to be carried out in two phases — the formation and subsequent disbandment of the Indian National Army (INA) under Captain Mohan Singh Deb, and secondly, the formation of Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind under Subhas Chandra Bose, and reformation of the INA as its army.

In January 1942, the propaganda ministry announced formation of the Indian National Army (Jai Hind) in Berlin. At the end of July 1942, 300 volunteers were issued with German Army Uniforms bearing a badge on the right arm showing a leaping tiger superimposed on the Indian Tricolour with the phrase Freies Indien, meaning Free India. They were then officially designated as the “Free Indian Legion”.

Bose then turned his attention to South East Asia. With its large overseas Indian population, the region was recognised as a fertile ground for establishing an anti-colonial force to fight the Raj. The Azad Hind Fauj or the INA, which was earlier established by Captain Mohan Singh in Singapore in 1942, had been disbanded by then. Bose revived it and assumed charge of it. The government was inspired along the concepts of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and had its own currency, court and civil code.

Though the INA could not succeed in recapturing India, it has been hailed as one of the most influential factors for the British to leave India.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 5:06:07 PM |

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