- The release of the three INA members (Shahnawaz Khan, Prem Sahgal and Gurbaksh Dhillon), however, did not result in the rest of the captured INA troops going on trial.
- Although the British Indian Army was recommended to cease the trials, as it could lead to mutinies, the force’s then commander-in-chief, Claude Auchinleck, decided to go ahead with the rest of them.
- This led to the loyalties of the serving Indian Army men shifting towards the country as the majority turned nationalist. The resistance of Indian armed forces to British pressure kept growing, as well as their loyalties towards the nation.
- In January 1946, a massive strike was imposed by officers and pilots of Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF). By February, the ships of Royal Indian Navy (RIN) also joined the mutiny. Civilians in Mumbai joined the strikes as well.
- This was a clear sign of mass mutiny to the British government, which resulted in the final dialogue of independence between the British government and India.
- The high pitch and intensity at which the campaign for the release of INA prisoners was conducted was unprecedented.
- Initially, the agitation got wide publicity through extensive press coverage with daily editorials, distribution of pamphlets often containing threats of revenge, graffiti conveying similar messages, holding of public meetings and celebrations of INA Day.
- The nerve centres of the agitation were Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, United Provinces towns and Punjab, but the campaign spread to distant places such as Coorg, Baluchistan and Assam.
- The forms of participation included:
- Fund contribution
- Participation in meetings
- Closing of shops
- political groups demanding release of prisoners
- student meetings and boycott of classes;
- organising kisan conferences; and
- All India Women’s Conference demanding the release of INA prisoners.
- Those who supported the INA cause in varying degrees, apart from the Congress, included the Muslim League, Communist Party, Unionists, Akalis, Justice Party, Ahrars in Rawalpindi, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Hindu Mahasabha and the Sikh League.
- Pro-INA sentiments surfaced in traditional bulwarks of the Raj, as well:
- Government employees collected funds
- The loyalists, i.e. the gentlemen with titles appealed to the government to abandon the trials for good Indo-British relations.
- With all the collective effort, the central theme became the questioning of Britain’s right to decide a matter concerning Indians.
Importance of the Rebellion
- Fearless action by the masses was an expression of militancy in the popular mind.
- Revolt in the armed forces had a great liberating effect on the minds of people.
- Clement Attlee, the then British prime minister, cited that that the INA activities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, had weakened the Indian Army, which was the foundation of the British Empire in India
- Further, the rebellion made the British realise that the Indian armed forces could no longer be relied upon to support the Raj.
- Although Britain had made, at the time of the Cripps Mission in 1942, a commitment to grant dominion status to India after the war, this suggests that the INA and the revolts, mutinies, and the public resentment they germinated were an important factor in the complete withdrawal of the Raj from India.