Essay on Indian nationalist army

3. In December 1941 the Japanese defeated the British at Malaya and Captain Mohan Singh together with Indian officers/soldiers capitulated to them.

Indians residing in Southeast Asia were much inspired at the victory of Japan at the initial stage of the war.

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A number of associations were formed aiming at the independence of India. Pritam Singh (a leader of such an organization) and Major Fujihara, a Japanese officer, requested Mohan Singh to form an Indian Army comprising the captured Indian soldiers.

4. Mohan Singh hesitated but ultimately agreed. Fujihara handed over about 40,000 Indian soldiers, who had surrendered to him, to Mohan Singh. It was actually the first step towards the formation of the INA.

5. Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15 Februaryl942. Advancing further north they attacked Burma (Myanmar) and captured Rangoon (Yangoon) on 7 March 1942.

6. The famous revolutionary Ras Behari Bose was residing in Japan during this time. He arranged a meeting of the leading Indians residing in Tokyo on 28 March 1942 and there it was decided that an Association of Free Indians’ would be formed and a National Indian Army constituted under the command of Indian officers.

7. A conference was held at Bangkok on 15 June with this end in view. The conference continued up to 24 June and 35 proposals were adopted.

8. It was agreed that Subash Chandra Bose would be invited to Southeast Asia. The Bangkok conference approved the army already formed by Mohan Singh. A five member working committee was formed and Ras Behari Bose was made its president. The formation of the INA was formally declared.

9. Subash Bose who silently left Calcutta on 17 January 1941 and arrived in Germany, formed an India government in exile, in Berlin and extended support to Germany.

10. He began to broadcast his aims and objectives over Radio Berlin and made contact with Japan. This aroused tremendous enthusiasm in India. Indians in Germany gave him the title of ‘Netaji’ and the slogan of ‘Jai-Hind’ was initiated here during this time.

11. Subash left for Japan in a German submarine and arrived in Tokyo on 13 June 1943.

12. Hideki Tojo, the Japanese Prime Minister (1941-44), accorded him a cordial reception on his arrival.

13. The Prime Minister declared in their parliament that Japan would advance all sorts of help to India in its fight for independence.

14. A huge crowd gathered at Singapore to receive Subash when he arrived there on 2 July 1943.

15. On 4 July Ras Behari Bose resigned and Subhas became the president of the Indian Independence Movement in East Asia.

16. He formally took the leadership of INA on 25 August and dedicated himself in bringing discipline within its rank and file.

17. On 21 October 1943 Subhas, declared the formation of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind and on the 23rd declared war on Britain and America.

18. The INA was being organized in such a way so that they could also take part in the invasion of India together with the soldiers of Japan.

But Terauchi, the Japanese commander, gave objection to the plan on three grounds. He considered that the Indians (as war-prisoners) were demoralized, they were not painstaking like the Japanese and they were mainly mercenary soldiers.

So he opined that the Japanese would take part in the invasion and the INA would stay in Singapore. Subash could not accede to the proposal.

19. Ultimately, after much discussion, it was decided that only a regiment of the Indian soldiers would take part in the fight with the Japanese as a detached unit.

If they could prove themselves equal to the Japanese, more Indians would be permitted to march to the border.

20. A new brigade named Subash Brigade was formed with select soldiers from the erstwhile Gandhi, Azad and Nehru Brigades. The women’S wing of the army was named after Rani Laxshmibai.

21. The INA Headquarters was shifted to Rangoon in January 1944 and sensation was created with the war cry ‘Dilli Chalo’ (March on Delhi).

22. He gave the country the slogan of Jai Hind.

23. The Subash Brigade reached Rangoon towards the beginning of January 1944. In the mean time it was decided that the Indian detachment would not be smaller than a battalion, its commander would be an Indian, the war would continue under Joint plan of Action and Indians would fight as a separate unit on selected spots.

It was also decided that battles would occur at the Kaladan valley of Arakan and Kalam and Haka centre of China hills to the east of Lusai hills.

24. The Subash Brigade was divided into three battalions. The first contingent advanced across both the banks of Kaladan and captured Paletoa and Doletmai.

It captured Maudak, a British border out-post at a distance of 64 km from Doletmai a few days after.

It was very difficult to get supply of arms and ammunitions and foodstuff, so the Japanese wanted to fall back, but the Indians refused.

So only one company was left behind under the command of Surajmal and the rest went back.

The Japanese commander also left behind a platoon of his contingents under the disposal of Surajmal.

25. In the mean time the other two detachments of the Subash Brigade took the responsibility of Haka-Kalan borderline.

26. At the fall of Imphal at Manipur it was decided that INA would take position at Kohima, so that it could enter Bengal across the Brahmaputra. Gandhi and Azad Brigades also advanced towards Imphal.

27. On the 21 March the Japanese PM declared that the Indian territories freed from the British would be brought under the administration of a provisional independent government formed under Netaji.

28. In spite of various hazards and want of food and war materials the INA advanced up to 241 km inside India.

29. A few days after the declaration of the Japanese PM the Americans and the British reinforced their power in the Pacific and took steps to invade Japan.

At such a critical juncture the Japan forces had to give up the plan of invading India. Consequently the INA also had to retreat and was forced to surrender when the allied powers recaptured Burma.

Achievements:

Though the INA failed in achieving its objective it did require great significance in national movements.

1. It internationalized the question of Indian independence and thus speeded up the process.

2. It proved that the Indian soldier was not only a mercenary but patriot too and hence the British could no longer depend on him for subjugation of his country.

3. It also suggested that the non-violent methods of the Congress did not exhaust the armory of the struggle for freedom.

4. Its organization set a beautiful example of communal harmony and commandership.

INA agitation Why was it landmark?

1. The high pitch or intensity at which the campaign for the release of INA prisoners was conducted was unprecedented.

2. It had wide geographical reach and the participation of diverse social groups and political parties was immense. This had two aspects.

i. Nature of the agitation was extensive

ii. Spread of pro INA sentiment to social groups hitherto outside the nationalist pale.

3. Significant section of government employees’ loyalist section and even men of the armed forces submerged in the tide of Pro INA sentiment.

4. The response of armed forces was extremely sympathetic

The INA Trial Agitation/Reaction:

A new phase of India’s freedom struggle started after the end of the Second World War (1945).

The heroism and determination of the Indians had already been revealed by the QIM and the INA.

Now with the release of the national leaders India was geared up for the final struggle which centered on the protests of the Court Martial of INA soldiers and officers (Red Fort Trail 5 Nov. 1945) charged of breach of loyalty to the British crown.

Persistent demands were made by the entire political leadership of the country for the release of the INA officials, viz., Shah Nawaz, Gurudial Singh Dillion, Prem Sehgal and Rashid Ali, now hailed as national heroes.

The Congress infact set up an INA Defence Committee (consisting of Bhula Bhai Desai, T.B. Sapru, K.N. Katju, Nehru and Asaf Ali) to defend their national heroes and organized an INA Relief and Enquiry Committee, which provided small sums of money and food to the men on their release and secured jobs for them.

British Govt, now being in no position to ignore Indian opinion felt it expedient to set them free even though they were held guilty of brutality or active complicity.

Significance:

The INA agitation was landmark on many counts.

i. there was unprecedented campaign for the release of INA prisoners-.priority to press coverage, publicity through Pamphlets, posters,

ii. Threats of revenge and public meetings observing INA day 12th Nov. and INA week (5 to 11 Nov. 1945).

iii. wide geographical spread (reaching even to such distant places as Coorg, Baluchistan and Assam) and participation of diverse social groups and political parties hitherto outside the nationalist place (the Muslim league, the CPD, the unionist party, the Akalies, the justice, party, the Ahrars in Raval Pindi, the RSS, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Sikh league all supporting the INA cause in varying degree).

Significant section of Govt, employees, loyalist sections and even men of the armed forces were submerged in the tide of pro-INA sentiment.

Three Upsurges:

The growing nationalist sentiment that climaxed around the INA trials developed into three upsurges in Calcutta and Bombay, in Nov’45 and Feb’46.

These upsurges marked a violent confrontation with the authorities (this was in contrast to the peaceful demonstration of nationalist solidarity of the earlier period).

The upsurges followed fairly similar patterns. In initial stage the students (at Calcutta) and the | ratings (at Bombay) challenged the authority and was repressed.

In second stage people in the city joined in, resulting in a virulent anti-British mood and the virtual paralysis of Calcutta and Bombay.

In the third and last stage people in other parts of the country expressed sympathy and solidarity.

1. In Calcutta lakhs of people demonstrated in Nov.45 to demand the release of INA prisons. For three days, the government machinery was paralyzed.

2. Again in Feb’46 there was a mass demonstration in Calcutta to demand the release of INA official Rashid Ali.’

3. Then on 18 Feb’46 the ratings of the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) went on strike in Bombay. The ratings were probably inspired by the example of INA and disgruntled over a number of grievances like flagrant racial arrogance, inplatable food.

The RIN revolt was the most significant of all. On 22 Feb. Bombay observed a complete hartal and general strike, in factories and offices in sympathy with the RIN revolt.

The ratings had fought a 7hour battle with Army and the Navy and surrendered only when asked to do so by the national leaders (VallabbRai Patel, Jinnah) on 23 Feb. Over 228 civilians died in Bombay while 1046 were injured.

In RIN revolt, Karachi was a major centre second only to Bombay. Sympathetic token strikes also took place in other military establishments like Madras, Calcutta, Delhi, Jamnagar, the Andaman, Bahrein and Aden. Royal Indian Air Force men also went on sympathetic strikes at many places.

Significance

i. The upsurges gave expression to the militancy in the popular mind. It showed that the Indian people were no longer in a mood to tolerate the humiliation of foreign rule.

ii. The RIN revolt in particular had a symbolic significance. Its dramatic impact can be gauged by the liberating effect’ it produced on the popular con scrounges.

The revolt in the armed forces was seen as an event which marked the end of ” British Rule’ almost as finally as the Independence Day.

Limitations

These upsurges which took the form of an extreme, direct and violent conflict with the authority did have certain limitations.

Only militant sections of society could participate. The liberals, conservatives and men and women of small town and villages could not participate (as was the case in the INA cause and the mass movement of earlier decades

i. They were short lived. The Calcutta on 11-13 Feb’46 was relatively quite during the RIN revolt of a week later.

ii. They had urban concentration (Calcutta, Bombay, Karachi etc.): This was in contrast to the general INA Agitation which reached the remotest villages and made the suppression an easy task.

iii. The manifestation of the communal unity in these upsurges was more organizational unity than the unity of the people. Moreover, the organization came together only for specific agitation.

Calcutta during Rashid Ali’s trial was to witness a communal frenzy only 6 months later.

The RIN revolt also showed limited communal unity with the national leaders addressing their coreligionists to suspend their agitation.

Response of the Political Parties:

These upsurges are believed to have been led by the communist, the socialists or Foard Blockiest or all of them together and the relationship between them and the Congress is seen as one of op opposition or at best dissociation.

The role of Congress is seen as one of defusing the revolutionary situation, prompted by its fear that the situation would go out of its control or by the concern that disciplined armed forces were vital in the free India and the party would rule soon.

These upsurges, however, in a way, were an extension of the earlier nationalist activity of the Congress.

It was the strong anti-imperialist sentiment fostered by the Congress through its electioneering, its solidarity with INA cause and its exposing the excesses of 1942 that found expression in these upsurges.

The Congress however did not give the call for these upsurges nor did any other political organization do so.

People rallied spontaneously in sympathy with students and ratings to voice their anger at the repression that was let loose.

Although the Congress lauded the spirit of the people and condemned the repression by the Government, it did not officially support these struggles as it felt that their tactics and timing were wrong.

It was evident to the Congress leaders that the Govt, was able and determined to repress. It was in the fitness of thing that Vallabbhai Patel asked the ratings to surrender and so id communists in Calcutta together with Congress men, by asking the people to return to their homes.

Such a gesture on the part of Congress, infact reflected the fact that negotiation and settlement w an integral pa o t e Congress struggle a possibility which had to be exhausted before a mass movement was to be launched.

In 1946, exploring the option of negotiation before launching a movement was seen to be crucial since the British were likely to leave India soon.

At the same time pressure had to kept up on the British to reach a settlement and to this end preparedness for a movement (built steadily through 1945 by refurnishing the organization, electioneering and spearheading the INA agitation) was sought to be maintained.

Reaction of Gandhi :

To Gandhiji it was a matter of great relief that the ‘ ratings in Bombay listened to Sardar Patel’s advice to surrender.

His objection was to the action of mutineers ‘ without a call from a prepared revolutionary party.

In, his eyes ‘Swaraj was not to be obtained by the happenings of Bombay, Calcutta and Karachi for a real union at Barricade’ there had to be union also at the constitutional front.

Response from the authority:

Here a note of caution is well placed with regard to the response of these upsurges, esp. the RIN revolt evoked from the colonial authority.

One popular perception that the RIN revolt shook the mighty British Empire to its foundation is not grounded in reality. These upsurges in fact, demonstrated that despite

Launching of the non co-operation movement:

When the British refused to meet any of the demands of the Congress and the Party Conference was held at Allahabad in June 1920 and a programme of boycott of Government schools, colleges and law courts was approved.

The Congress met in a special session in September 1920 at Calcutta and agreed to start the Non considerable erosion of the morale of the bureaucracy and the resolve of the armed forces by this time the British machinery for repression was intact

Further, the contention that the Cabinet Mission was send under the impact of the RIN revolt (18th Feb. 46) is likewise also not tenable.

The decision, to send it, had in fact been taken on 22nd Jan’46 itself and even its announcement was started a week earlier.