Probably most of the younger generation would not even have heard about the Azad Hind fauz or the Indian National Army. The army which was formed 75 years back to fight the Britishers and secure Independence by Mohan Singh had played many crucial role during the World War –II. Although the real intention of INA was to unite people against the British, the INA did not receive much support from Gandhi and Nehru cadre and instead forced them to join hands with the British to fight against Japan and Germany in the World War-II.
The INA which sought the help of Japan to drive away the British was ridiculed by the so called freedom fighters in the Congress party. The same year of its formation the INA leadership and Japan’s military faced a huge clash over the support of INA to British which lead to the downfall of the Indian National Army.
In 1943 under the leadership of Subash Chandra Bose, the INA again regained strength. It was under his leadership that INA got enormous support from the people of India and every youth were attracted to the call given by Subash Chandra Bose. Bose who was completely against the non-violent movement of his own party Congress wanted to form a Swarajist party. Although he was elected as the President of Congress twice in 1938 and 39 he had resigned from the post quoting dissatisfaction in the way the freedom movement was lead.
Subhash Bose became the President of the Indian National Army as well as the President of Indian Independence League on 4th July 1943. Bose knew that British enjoyed the topmost power because there was no strong force which protested against them and peaceful movements were not sufficient to stop the British rule in India. The INA under Bose drew ex-prisoners and thousands of civilian volunteers from the Indian expatriate population in Malaya (present-day Malaysia) and Burma. They joined hands with the Imperial Japanese Army to fight against the British.
Bose prepared master strategy to tackle the British and immediately gave a call “Delhi Chalo” (On to Delhi). His main idea was not just to launch physical war, but to awaken every Indian conscious and reject the British rule. He wanted to create a movement where the British could no longer sustain the Indian pressure. Within a year, the INA grew stronger with thousands of youth and volunteers joining the force. In 1944, the INA along with Japan army even hoisted the Indian Flag in Kohima for the very first time. When the story of their courage and bravery was spread, people realized the power of INA which led to the upsurge of a revolution in the entire country.
The British then started to realize that it was difficult to stop INA and the patriotism of Indians had become impossible to be bought! Subash Chandra Bose and INA became the biggest threat to the Viceroy. The INA had reached the zenith of success and this was the time the Congress party started pressurizing Bose to fall in line with the non-violence movement.
When Bose refused to stop the movement, a public trail was conducted against the soldiers of Azad Hind Fauz on charges of treason. But this incident further aroused the patriotic sentiment of people and INA gained more support. The INA leaders and soldiers were convicted but however the leaders were released later due to extreme revolt by people. But the soldiers were still under imprisonment which led to bitter relation with INA and Congress party for not showing support.
The country believed that Indian Independence will be soon achieved in 1945 and India will be free from the British rule. But the constant clash between the Congress and INA showed that Congress did not want Bose to take the credit of Independence. It is said that there were many deals done by the British and the Congress party which cornered the fight of Subash Chandra Bose. But the sudden disappearance of Netaji in the 1945 put a break to his relentless fight against the British.
The INA which was in the peak of success was shattered, the soldiers were left leaderless and lack of support from the Congress made them hopeless. Although there were many leaders who continued their fight against the British, the movement lost stern and soldiers were largely demoralized. Most of the soldiers were jailed, killed by the British and the Congress party showed no protest or anger. Many soldiers went in hiding to escape the imprisonment.
It is said that thousands of women had donated their jewels, money to support Bose’s movement. There were men, women who had left their homes and livelihood just to join the army and help the great movement of Subash Chandra Bose. The army which was built with great hope, could not sustain the betrayal from Congress. In the later stages it is said that Nehru had even snatched all the wealth which was meant for buying ration for the soldiers. Many soldiers and children have said to have died without proper food.
Even after India gained Independence in 1947, the INA was completely neglected. Nehru had out rightly rejected to recognize the INA as a Nationalist organization. The soldiers were treated as terrorists and Anti-Nationals and they were refused jobs everywhere. It is said that order was passed by the government that INA leaders and soldiers should not be given government jobs in the country. Nehru even refused to reinstate Colonel Prem Sahgal, Colonel Gurubaksh Singh Dhillon and Major General Shah Nawaz Khan into the Indian army.
The Hindustan Times ran a special called The Enigma of Subhas Chandra Bose which has an extract:
Sardar Patel, India’s first Home Minister, explained to me in 1950 that he had been very careful indeed not to reinstate any of the officers who had gone over to Subhas Bose’s I.N.A. and also saw to that they did not thrive in politics.
I cannot find the source, but it is believed that Lord Mountbatten recommended this decision and it was agreed upon by Nehru, as a precondition to independence.
Even in Pakistan, those people who fought for partition and demanded separate state for Muslims were made Generals and were given top most positions in the Army. But our PM Nehru could not help these people who fought the Independence of the country. No other leader in any country could have treated their own soldiers with such disrespect.
What an irony!