JAPAN AND THE INDIAN NATIONAL ARMY
It is well known that India got independence under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, who waged a non-violence war against the British Raj. However, this is only half the truth. There were many Indian revolutionaries who thought they could obtain independence only on the strength of the sord. It is for this purpose alone that an indomitable leader like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose founded an army m Malaya, which fought against the British in Burma. This army was fully backed by the Japanese Government, the Japanese Prime Minister and the Imperial General Head Quarter (IGHQ) in the critical period of World war 2.
Although British Generals like Slim and others have described the Indian National Array (INA) soldiers as porters and as Jiffs(Japanese inspired fifth column), archaeological sources and pages of recent history prove that they were real patriots. Due to the failure of the Burma campaign the unfortunate Japanese commanders were branded as inefficient, but history clarifies that they were fighting for causes. They fought mainly for places of strategic importance around Imphal and Burma border but also supported the cause of the emancipation of 38 crores of Indian people.
Major Fujiwara, whose F-Kikan, a liaison organization proved to be catalyst to the birth of the First I.N.A. was a Junior officer in the Eight section of Second Bureau of the I.G.H.Q.
His Indian counterpart Major Mohan Singh was also a fiery Young man in the late twenties. They met each other in a war-torn rubber plantation of Malaya. Although Singapore was considered to be the bastion it fell into the hands of the Nippon soldiers within a few days. On 17th Feb. 1942, 45,000 Indian soldiers were handed over like cattle to Major Fujiwara Farrar park by the British colonel Hunt. The Indian soldiers were simply shocked at the treatment meted out to them be their masters. They were already facing inequality in the army, were prohibited entry to the same officers’ club, denied promotions and not given the kings commission. Even then they were fighting at the expense of their own country to help the British Empire keep India under subjugation. In this indignant mood their nationalistic spirit was further roused by nationalist like Raghwan, Menon, Swami Satyamand Puri, A. M. Sahaya, S.C. Goho and others. They had already founded Indian Independence League (IIL) branches in Penang, Singapore, Bangkok, Ipoh and many other towns in the Far East.
Delegates from various cities in the Far East, as well as Indian soldiers assembled at the Bangkok and Tokyo conferences and took an oath to attain independence for India. Rash Behari Bose, an old Indian revolutionary was chosen as the president. He was the one who had fled to Tokyo, the then Mecca of revolutionary Toyama Israru of black Dragon Society, with a burning desire to win liberty for his motherland. He was welcomed the opportunity of the Second World War and toiled day and night for the Indian National Army. However, due to the disintegration in the organization, war time secrecy and suspicion, the struggle between the civilians and the army men, it’s revolutionary Zeal died down. In such dire circumstances S.C. Bose was the only ray of hope for them.
A born leader like Subhash Chandra Bose presided twice over the Indian National Congress. A most pragmatic leader, modernist in his outlook and of no less ａ stature than that of Jawahal Nehru，S.C.Bose spoke of family planning, dreamt of Five Year Plans and industrial development even in those days. He welcomed the Second World War as ａ God given opportunity for the dethronement of the British Empire. Inspite of being ａ disciple of Mahatma Gandhi he challenged the Mahatma openly and defeated his candidate in the election for the presidentship of the Indian National Congress. The British machinery considered him the number one enemy and put him behind bars. He fled from prison in disguise and crossed the Afgan countryside on foot. He wandered desperately through Europe, particularly through Hitlerｓ Germany, in quest of freedom. Indians in East Asia invited him to lead them. Shubash Chandra Bose，who was known as Netaji (a Great Leader) was a real leader of the Masses. His charismatic personality stood out in ａ military uniform, he was the cynosure of all Indians in the Far East. Bose revamped the I.N.A. and founded a war-time parallel government which was recognized be the nine Axis countries like Japan Italy, etc. He proclaimed himself the supreme commander and gave the war cry of ‘chalo Delhi'(
Onward Delhi). In response to Bose’s call for “Total mobilization”, Indians in the Far East contributed their maximum Wealth and became fakirs (Paupers). British historians accused Netaji for extracting money from the poor. But there are numerous instances where women voluntarily offered their ornaments and washermen, watchmen offered their passbooks in open assemblies. When the merchants asked Netaji what percent they should offer, the leader retorted。”Tell me, do our soldiers fight and ask what percent of their blood they should spill？” Every action of his was directed towards one goal and that was the emancipation of his country. The British have been deliberately painting a black picture of Netaji. The reason behind this attitude of the British was that they were excessively proud of their British Indian Army and could not endure even the thought of rebellion in it. Therefore, Subhash Bose was and continues to remain a “Real war criminal” in the British eyes. Two years back Netaji’s nephew Sishir told me in Calcutta that, “The British have forgiven Hitler, but they have not forgiven Netaji”. One Mr. Habib a millionaire from Rangoon willingly gave away all his wealth and became a pauper for Netaji’s sake. After the war lie was deliberately arrested, interrogated and compelled to make a statement that Bose had extracted money from him by force. This incident appears in an unpublished autobiography of Colonel Dhillon, the hero of the Red Fort Trial. All these efforts were nothing but an attempt to tarnish Netaji’s image and the unsung saga of the Indian and Japanese heroes who laid down their lives on the way to Delhi. Some historians have described the alliance between Japan and the I.N.A. as a “Jangle Alliance”. But the logic behind it’s existence was a fight against a common enemy. Although the Freedom Army was criticized as turnover and traitor, It was inspired by Patriotic feavour. When influential Indian leaders like Gandhi, Azad and Nehru were behind bars, the INA kept its flag flying high in the Farr East Netaji’s cry of “Give me blood I promise you freedom”, cherished the ambition of Indian people for freedom.
There is no doubt that there were internal clashes, ego problems, lack of understanding between Kikan’s and INA during the hectic days of war. But Netaji was right from the beginning supported by General Tojo. He welcomed Netaji to the 82nd extraordinary session of the National Diet on 16th June 1943 and declared. “We are indignant about the fact that India is still under the ruthless suppression of Britain and are in full sympathy with her desperate struggle for independence”. Netaji was invited by the Emperor of Japan, he delivered speeches in Hibiya park, before students of Tokyo University and was felicitated on several occasions. “The order of the Rising Sun”, was to be conferred on him but he declined it politely and assured that he would be worthy of it, only after his country’s liberty. I feel that no other leader has received such an honor in the Japanese co-prosperity sphere.
In fact, the previous plan of the Imphal campaign that is “Operation 21” had been opposed by General Mutaguchi as an impossible task. But later he himself chalked out the plan for the Imphal campaign, Netaji’s emotional pressure must have been one the reasons.
An important question raised by history is whether Japan had designs on Imphal. But Netaji was confident of the credentials of Japan. Even the first British historian of INA Hugh Toye has admitted that General Mutaguchi asked Netaji for occupation of liberated areas in Memiyo, when Imphal was about to fall.
Mutaguchi was so confident of Victory that in Memiyo he told a Visitor in his garden that, “My officers do everything, I just tend my roses”, Netaji urged him to keep open the road from Imphal to Kohima. The British will withdraw as they always did. But Mutaguchi retorted, Imphal is the lake in which I intend to net the fish, But unfortunately, due to the non-cooperation of his companions, the monsoon, the fish turned in to a crocodile and ate away the net.
The Imphal campaign was already delayed, planning and replanning, as ａ result of the maneuvering of maps and late signals given by Tojo himself. The Japanese forces attacked Imphal with only three weeks’ ration. Half of Kohimａ was conquered and Imphal was ensnared by the Japanese forces. Captain Laxmi, the lady commander of Netaji told me that “Victory was within reach”. Unfortunately, the entire Japanese air forces was diverted to the Pacific battle. Even without air-cover the Indian and Japanese soldiers came close to victory on empty stomachs, but General Slim reorganized his forces and with the help of the Americans he regained his strength. A large stock of food was lying in Dimapore. Mutaguchi ordered Sato to advance on Dimapore．But starved Sato countermanded Mutaguchi’s order. The British were alarmed at the advance of the Indo-Nippon army. If Imphal had fallen and the Japanese had got a foothold in Netaji’s Bengal there would have been panic in India. The question was, who would hold the longest? Netaji was eager to enter India with the INA and start revolution. Mutaguchi desperately told his men, “There must be no room for historians of the future to say we left something undone which we ought to have done”. But destiny, however, played a strange role.
The untimely monsoon, lack of air superiority and other reasons contributed to the failure of the Imphal campaign. Because of sheer misfortune, the fighting INA and Japanese armies were unable to taste the fruits of success. On the thorny path of Imphal and Kohima, in heavy monsoon, coping with perils like leeches, maggots, malaria and other tropical diseases and ravages of war itself. more than 13,376 Japanese lost their lives. The dethronement of the P.M. of Japan who had geared the campaign, the end of Mutaguchi’s career and the untimely death of General Tarauchi were the horrors of the war.
The INA soldiers fought vehemently against their British masters. The POWs turned patriots in thousands. This was a miracle in history. Though they failed, they succeeded in paving a path for freedom. The INA was tried in the Red Fort for waging a war against the king Emperor of Britain, but the INA soldiers were glorified by the Indians as their heroes and the drama of the trial had to be wound up. The British came to the conclusion that they could no longer hold the huge nation by the strength of mere force。The day of freedom drew closer. More than 13,000 Japanese lost their, lives unwept and unsung. But they had sacrificed their precious lives for India, the birth place of the great Buddha, their Saviour and thereby were in ａway repaying their debt to India.
Thane (E) -400 603,,
Indian National Academy Awarded Winner Novelist