By : S. A. Ayer

The author was a close associate of Netaji in his eventful days in his capacity as the Minister of Publicity and Propaganda to the Provisional Government of Azad Hind. Shri Ayer accompanied Netaji up to Saigon in the same plane in his “adventure in to the unknown”. When Netaji left Saigon for an unknown destination with Col. Habirbur Rahaman in a Japanese Bomber plane on the 17th August 1945 Shri Ayer was selected on the19th August to join Netaji out of the five close associates of Netaji and he was the first Indian to lean the sad news of Netaji’s death in a plane crash from the Japanese Officers. After returning to India Shri Ayer has been holding high posts of responsibility under Government of India and have been fighting for the cause of NETAJI and INA. Shri Ayer is the author of “UNTO HIM A WITNESS” and regular contributor to the Netaji and INA literature. Now Shri Ayer lives at Bombay.
. . . . . . Editor,

IMPHAL, Manipur, and Moirang have nostalgic memories for all men and women who played their humble part in the I.N.A. under the leadership of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Moirang the rare sanctity of being the hallowed spot where the immortal heroes of the I.N.A. hoisted the National Tricolor on the sacred soil of India for the first time after crossing the Burma border into India. Especially to all those who participated the Indian Independence Movement in East Asia. Moirang is a place of pilgrimage. It will remain a place of pilgrimage to all Indians and for ever. Moirang will go down in history as the spot where the dawn of India’8 Freedom came into view on the 14th April 1944.

On 2lst October 1968. On the occasion of the celebration the Silver Jubilee of the Proclamation of the provisional Government of Azad Hind, Moirang witnessed an impressive ceremony to celebrate the Jubilee and to pay homage to the I.NA Martyrs, a Memorial to whom is fast taking shape in Moirang. Last year, on 23rd September our Prime Minister Shrimati Indra Gandhi came to Moirang and inaugurated the Museum wing of the I.N.A. Martyrs Memorial Hall. Our President, Siri V. V. Giri, is expected to visit Moirang and install the life size statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, at the I.N.A. Martyrs Memorial site on 23rd January, 1971, on the occasion of the 75th Birth Anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

When the battle for Imphal was at its height a quarter of a century age, news of its capture by the I.N.A. supported by the Japanese forces was eagerly awaited every moment. But it was not to be. The odds against the I.NA. proved formidable. After coming within striking distance of Imphal, the I.N.A. had to withdraw.

If Imphal had fallen to the I.N.A., the course of history would have been changed. And Independence would have come to India even earlier than 15th August. 1947. Manipur would have been the first liberated territory administered by the Provisional Government of Azad Hind. Netaji had worked out the plan of administration to the minutest detail. A Governor designate had already been nominated for the liberated territories. The Azad Hind Dal had already been recruited and trained for reconstruction work. The Dal was composed of farmers, artisans, administrators, postmen and telegraphists, engineers and doctors.

These men were ready to follow the liberation forces to set up civil administration in areas vacated by the withdrawing British authorities. Normal civilian life would have been restored with the least dislocation. Temporary shelters would have been built with the least delay, cultivation of land would have been resumed quickly ; water supply would have been ensured ; medical relief would have been prompt. Money orders and other postal facilities would have been restored. Postage stamps and money order forms were ready ; currency notes of the Azad Hind Government were also ready. There would have been no dislocation of normal life for civilians – for want of currency notes or postal stationary.

A full-fledged administration of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind on Indian soil would have been an accomplished fact as a result of meticulous advance planning by Netaji. That was the Dream of Subhas Chandra Bose. The dream did not become a reality. The dream was no less glorious, though it remained only a dream.

Those of us who had the rare good fortune and privilege of being closely associated with Netaji during the twenty five hectic, fateful months that he spearheaded the Independence Movement in East Asia, were fascinated by the charm and magnetism of the man. Love of the Motherland was a burning passion with him ; his physical and moral courage was the highest order. His thoroughness was striking. From the moment the I.N.A. started advancing towards Imphal, Netaji began drawing up a Proclamation to the people of Manipur. He held a series of consultations with some citizens of Manipur who had crossed the Burma border and reached Rangoon. He wanted to understand the Mind of Manipur before drawing up the Proclamation. Once the proclamation was ready, he had it translated into Manipuri language by citizens of Manipur in the Rangoon camp.

He had an unshakeable faith in his destiny. He carried his life in the palm of his hand. Nobody could persuade him to take shelter when enemy bomber came overhead in swarms and rained bombs on Rangoon and other I.N.A. camping areas. When those near him begged of him to get into underground shelters at the height of the bombing, he would laugh off the suggestion and simply say : “The bomb to kill me has not yet been made.”

His moral courage amazed even the Japanese. When news of reverse on the battlefronts began reaching Netaji at his Headquarters, he was totally unper turbed. He went ahead with his usual routine as if nothing untoward had happened. He never even for a moment lost his faith in the ultimate victory of his efforts. His self-confidence was of an infectious type. And the high-ranking Japanese civilian and military officers often wondered at this supreme self-assurance of Netaji. The secret of Netaji’s moral courage was his undying faith in God. He did not give a moment’s thought to the immediate success or failure of his campaign for India’s liberation from foreign rule. He concentrated all his thoughts and energies on the job in hand. He had knack of turning defeats into victories. When a small group of I.N.A. officers betrayed the cause and went over to the enemy, Netaji refused to be depressed by the betrayal. He used the betrayal as the occasion for a raging, tearing propaganda campaign to rouse the spirit of the entire I.N.A. personal to fever pitch, and made thoroughly sure that there would be no further desertions to the enemy. When news of reverses began trickling from the battlefronts, Netaji took the civilians into confidence, and told them the unpleasant truth that the I.N.A. had failed to capture Imphal. At the same time he appealed to their sense of patriotism and urged them to support the I.N.A. with more men, more money, and more materials to attack Imphal ten times if necessary. Netaji’s appeal had an electrifying effect. The civilians rose to the occasion and came forward to pour all they had into Netaji’s war chest.

Netaji’s finest hour was when news reached him that the Japanese had surrendered to the Anglo-Americans, and that the war was over. This meant an abrupt end to the I.N.A. fighting and a disastrous end to all his dreams. As he was upset only for a few moments. Then he recovered his composure and took supreme command of the entire situation, and issued a series of important orders to the civilian and military wings of the Movement in East Asia and told them in the smallest detail what was to be done by them to look after the entire civilian and military personal. Simultaneously, he held top level consultations with his own colleagues and with the Japanese military authorities as to his own future. He had to make the most momentous decisions about his own immediate plans. He had to take the ultimate decision on the fateful question as to whether he should stay in Singapore and allow himself to be taken prisoner by the Anglo-American forces returning as victors to Singapore and other areas.

In those dramatic few days after Japan’s surrender, Netaji was extraordinarily cool and calm, and after listening patiently to all that his advisers had to say, finally decided to go on what he himself described as his “adventure into the unknown”.

The life and achievements of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will always serve as a beacon light for the present and future generations of Indians who can draw inexhaustible inspiration from his patriotism, suffering, self sacrifice, and indomitable courage.

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