- Azad Hind Fauj or the India National Army (INA) was first established by Mohan Singh in 1942. It was revived by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on October 21, 1943, during the Second World War to secure India’s complete independence from British Raj.
- Hence, every year on 21 October, the anniversary of the formation of Azad Hind Government is celebrated across the country.
- On this day, India’s first independent provisional government named Azad Hind Government was announced.
Formation of INA
- There were many Indian Revolutionaries working abroad for the country’s cause. Among these was Rashbehari Bose, living as a fugitive from the British since 1915 in Japan
- During WW2, he seized the opportunity to mobilise Indians for an armed struggle against the British.
- There were a number of Indian soldiers fighting on behalf of the British
- The Japanese after defeating British in South East Asia, persuaded captain Mohan Singh to work in collaboration with the Japanese for India’s freedom.
- In 1942, a conference of Indians was held in Tokyo, and they formed the Indian Independence league
- This was followed by conference in Bangkok (June 1942), where Rashbehari Bose was elected president of the league and a decision was taken to raise the Indian National Army
- Captain Mohan Singh was appointed the commander of the INA, which had about 40,000 Indian soldiers
- This conference invited Bose to lead the movement.
- Earlier, Bose had escaped from India in 1941 to Berlin. In June, 1943 he came to Tokyo and then Indian joined the INA at Singapore.
- Rashbehari Bose handed over the leadership to Subhas Bose, and an Azad Hind Sarkar was formed.
- Later, In November, 1943 the Japanese announced their decision to hand over the administration of Andamans and Nicobar islands to the INA
- Thus, started the heroic struggle of the INA for India’s independence.
Actions of INA
- The INA in a few months’ time had three fighting brigades named after Gandhi, Azad and Nehru.
- Soon other brigades were raised, namely the Subhas brigade and the Rani Jhansi brigade (an exclusive women force).
- The overseas Indians contributed heavily in terms of money and material for the army.
- On October 21, 1943, Subhash Bose formed the Provisional Government for Free India at Singapore with H.C. Chatterjee (Finance portfolio), M.A. Aiyar (Broadcasting), Lakshmi Swaminathan (Women Department), etc.
- This provisional government declared war on Britain and the United States, and was recognised by the Axis powers.
- Recruits were trained and funds collected for the INA.
- The famous slogan—“Give me blood, I will give you freedom” was given in Malaya.
- The INA headquarters was shifted to Rangoon (in Burma) in January 1944, and the army recruits were to march from there with the war cry “Chalo Delhi”
- On July 6, 1944, Subhas Bose addressed Mahatma Gandhi as ‘Father of Nation’—from the Azad Hind Radio (the first person to call Gandhi, ‘Father of Nation’). He asked for Gandhi’s blessings for “India’s last war of independence”.
- Further, The Azad Hind Fauz crossed the Burma border, and stood on Indian soil on March 18, 1944. The INA units subsequently advanced up to Kohima and Imphal
- The tricolour was hosted on Indian soil
- However, the INA failed to capture Imphal due to two reasons:
- The Japanese failed to supply the necessary material and air cover to the INA
- The Monsoon prevented their advance
- In the meantime, the British were able to regroup their forces and made counter attacks.
- The INA fought heroically, but the course of war was changing.
- The steady Japanese retreat thereafter quashed any hopes of the INA liberating the nation. The retreat continued till mid-1945.
- On August 15, 1945 the surrender of Japan in the Second World War took place and with this the INA also
- On August 18, 1945, reportedly, Subhash Bose died mysteriously in an air-crash at Taipei (Taiwan).
- But when the INA POWs were brought back to India after the war to be court-martialled, a powerful movement emerged in their defence.
Impact of INA
- The INA had failed to achieve its goal, but it made a significant impact on the freedom struggle:
- It became clear to the British that, they could no longer depend on the loyalty of Indian Soldiers and treat them as mercenaries
- The struggles of the INA demonstrated that those who waged an armed struggle against the British, were not at all affected by communal division. As, there were Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in the INA who had fought as Indians
- The actions of Rani Jhansi Brigade, an exclusive women force, demonstrated the capabilities of Indian Women waging armed struggle against the British.
- The INA had also demonstrated the enthusiasm and concern of overseas Indians for the freedom of their motherland.
On the whole, in dealing with the role of Subhas Bose during this period, we have to take note of the fact that, what he did was not due to his support to Fascist Germany or expansionist Japan, but for India’s freedom. He was determined to maintain the independent existence of INA from the Japanese. However, the British Government court martialled the INA soldiers, which led to a series of protests and trails later on.