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Azad Hind Fauj/Indian National Army and Freedom Movement of India

ESTABLISHMENT OF AZAD HIND FAUJ 

Indians remember this 21 October as Great Day and it is celebrated with full gaiety in many parts of the country as on this date in 1942, the Indian National Army (INA/ Azad Hind Fauj) was formed by two stalwarts and Indians Sri Rash Behari Bose and Sri Mohan Singh (in 1942) in Southeast Asia during World War II. Its 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 INA member, Mohan Singh had good relation 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 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 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. 

SUCCESS STORY OF AZAD HIND FAUZ

The INA/Azad Hind Fauj first success was capturing of 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. 

But the INA's activities influenced the decision to leave India by the British is reflected by the views of Mr. Clement Richard Attlee, who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951. 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. In the book written by Indian army scholar, General G D Bakshi, mentioned that in 1956, Mr. Clement Attlee had come to India and stayed in Kolkata (then Calcutta) as a guest of Sri P.B. Chakraborthy then Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court and also serving as acting Governor of West Bengal. During the course of discussion, Sri Chakraborthy asked about the contribution of Mahatma Gandhi and Subhas Chandra in independence movement. This may be quoted from the book itself, ‘Bose An Indian Samurai: Netaji and the INA A Military Assessment’, “Toward the end of our discussion I (means Sri Chakraborthy) asked Mr. Attlee what was the extent of Gandhi's influence upon the British decision to quit India. Hearing this question, Attlee's lips became twisted in a sarcastic smile as he slowly chewed out the word, m-i-n-i-m-a-l!" Regarding the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny it may be mentioned that it took place in the context of the Indian National Army trials (INA trials), which are also known as the Red Fort trials, took place between November 1945 and May 1946. In the first trials, INA persons were Colonel Prem Sahgal, Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, and Major General Shah Nawaz Khan. And in the second trials the INA officials were Abdul Rashid, Shinghara Singh, Fateh Khan and Captain Munawar Khan Awan. Most of the INA soldiers were set free after cashiering and forfeiture of pay and allowance. 

No Indians can forget Azad Hind Fauj/INA’s contribution in freedom movement. While I was in abroad even many Pakistanis and Bangladesh persons told about Subhas Chandra and INA/ Azad Hind Fauj.

Dr Shankar Chatterjee
Former Professor & Head (CPME),
NIRD & PR (Govt. of India), 
Hyderabad-500091 , India
Email <shankarjagu@gmail.com>