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Subhas Chandra Bose in Tokyo and Singapore, formation of Indian National Army, Rashbehari Bose and his activities

The Submarine Journey

The submarine was a U 180 with its forward torpedo tubes removed to create a space for the extra cargo. Bose and Abid Hasan spent time in planning for the upcoming venture. The submarine took a route via Danish water to the Norwegian coast and entered the North Sea, passed through Iceland and entered the rough waters of the Atlantic. According to the vivid account of Prof. Sugato Bose in His Majesty's Opponent, the most feared opponent of British, Subhas Chandra Bose, their most resolute and resourceful enemy, was on the move, stealthily, under the water. The British had much to rejoice. The war situation in the Western theater was clearly in their favour as Erwin Rommel was stopped by General Montgomery in the battle field of El Alamein on Nov 4, 1942. Rommel never received the much needed reinforcements promised by the Fuehrer.  After their rapid advance in Russia, the invincible German army was defeated by the harsh Soviet winter and a desperate, resolute Red army in Stalingrad in February 1943. Mahatma in India was undertaking a fast and Quit India Movement was decisively crushed. Bose alone was the last man standing against the formidable and the invincible Empire. Fortunately however the allies did not have the means to hunt him under the sea. According to the recollections of Abid Hassan, the stench of the diesel oil permeated the air, the food and the blankets. Bose was given a small bunk. Abid gathered some lentils and rice and cooked a Khichdi. Bose and Abid worked tirelessly on the revisions of Indian Struggle and in preparing for the challenges in Asia like negotiation strategy with the Japanese and methods to win over the trust of the officers of the British Indian army. He also wrote out or dictated the speeches he would make to the soldiers of INA, to Hasan for typing. He made future plans for a Government in exile, including having a woman's regiment and putting them in uniform of trousers and shirts. Bose shared with Abid his fear of his worst fate as "to be in exile". In the face of extreme stress Bose showed great courage and detachment. The U 180 had a mandate to attack enemy ships. On April 18 in the South Atlantic, the submarine, on sighting the British merchant ship S.S Corbis, fired torpedoes and the ship went down in flames. Couple of days later another cargo ship was sighted and the U boat had accidentally surfaced. It had to dive back to prevent from getting rammed by the British vessel. In the midst of the crisis Bose remained unperturbed and went on dictating his instructions to Hasan. The captain of the U boat Musenberg instructed his sailors to emulate the conduct of the revered guest in dangerous situation, i.e. by staying calm and composed.

The submarine rounded the Cape of Good Hope and entered Indian Ocean. On April 20, 1943, the Japanese submarine I 29 had left Penang. Its captain was Teraoka. The two submarines met each other near Madagascar coast. The sea was very rough for the transfer of the passengers, so they waited for a day or two and atlast took the risk and transferred Bose and Abid using a raft and a rope. A very drenched Bose got a warm welcome from his Asian colleagues. This is the only submarine to submarine transfer in the history of the two world wars, that too in enemy waters. The risk of this venture was great as the mortality rate in U boats was fairly high. Bose and Hasan were at home with the Japanese. The submarine was bigger and spacious. Teraoka vacated his cabin for Bose. I 29 crossed South India, picked up a message  from Penang to take passengers to Sabang and on May 6 it docked safely in Sabang. Col. Yamamato, whom he had met before in Germany was there in Sabang to greet him. After a few days rest Bose boarded a small Japanese plane to go to Tokyo by mid May. Netaji stayed therein the Imperial hotel. He checked in as Matsuda, a Japanese alternative of Mazzotta.    

Netaji with Iraq PM and Mufti
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose with the PM of Iraq and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in Berlin
Submarine voyage
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Abid Hasan, his secretary, on a submarine journey that started in Kiel in secrecy, to reach Madagascar by circumnavigating almost half the world in order to escape the allied forces. The submarine journey was extremely dangerous

Indian National Army and the Story of the Other Bose

I am a Fighter, one fight more, the last and the best - Rashbehari Bose

According to the History of Freedom Movement volume 3 by Dr. R. C Majumdar, "The outbreak of war in the East in 1941 caused a great stirring among the Indians in these regions. Those living in territories freed from European domination organized themselves into associations with the main objects of contributing their quota to the liberation of India from the British yoke and serving the interests of the overseas Indians during the critical period of transition. Such associations were established in a large no. of towns and villages and attained great popularity. Out of these associations was born the idea of an Indian Independence League of which they regarded themselves as branches. A definite shape was given to this idea by the great Indian revolutionary, Rashbehari Bose."

A great tribute has been paid to Rasbehari Bose in the website by Elizabeth Eston. She and Lexi Kawabe have put up a lot of effort to write in 6 volumes the book "Rasbehari Bose: The father of the Indian National Army". India however has forgotten her one of the best sons who gave his life for her cause. Rashbehari Bose was born in 1886 in Bengal. After Aurobindo went into seclusion, he became the most dreaded revolutionary and the enemy no. one of the British Government. Rashbehari had hoped to join British Indian Army at an early age against his father's wishes. But British Indian army did not accept him. He eventually was posted in the Forest Research institute service in Dehra Dun as a clerk and in that position he masterminded a brilliant attack on the British. On the occasion of a great ceremony organized in Delhi to commemorate the shifting of capital from Calcutta to Delhi, Basanta Biswas, a young revolutionary under the tutelage of Rashbehari, had thrown a bomb on Lord Hardinge who was riding an elephant, thereby critically injuring the Viceroy and killing the mahaut. A manhunt was soon launched. Rashbehari even led a condemnation assembly against the attack in Dehra Dun. When the conspiracy was discovered and police caught the key leaders of the plot, despite their best attempts to catch him, Rashbehari still remained elusive. He planned a coordinated mass uprising taking advantage of the ongoing first world war, along with Ghadar party, Raja Mahendra Pratap, Sachindranath Sanyal, Kartar Singh, Vishnu Ganesh Pingle and the members of the Berlin committee, and another mastermind of revolutionary activities, Jatindranath Mukherjee, popularly called as Bagha Jatin. The mass uprising in the barracks failed because of a betrayal. Bagha Jatin's plan of an armed revolution was shattered when the German cargo with the consignment of arms destined for Orissa coast, was captured. Rashbehari's close associate Vishnu Ganesh Pingle and Kartar Singh  were hanged. Sachindranath Sanyal was deported to the Andamans. A number of mutineers were shot dead after court martial. In Singapore mutineers had won their battle against the British army, but in absence of a coordinated action they had to surrender and were mostly killed by British. Rashbehari could flee from Lahore and by a series of miraculous escapes backed by his capability of disguise, boarded a vessel to Japan. In Japan initially he was planned to be deported to India through the active intervention of the British Embassy, but timely help from Mitsuru Toyama of the Black Dragon society and other notable Japanese sympathetic to the India's cause, made his continued stay in Japan possible. He married Toshiko, daughter of Aizo and Kokko Soma, owners of the Nakamuraya bakery in Tokyo in 1918 in order to gain citizenship in Japan. Just one example of his dexterity and genius - he learnt the Japanese language in just 4 months. Bose and Toshiko had led the life of fugitives as they had to constantly move in order to escape assassination bids on Bose by the British spies. Their marriage lasted only eight years till Toshiko died in 1924. They had a son and a daughter. After Toshiko's death Rashbehari devoted his life for the pursuit of his dream of seeing a free India. He got the citizenship in Japan and along with A. M Nair was instrumental in influencing Japanese people to be sympathetic to the Indian cause. He wrote many articles on the British rule, its impact on India and successfully gained the attention of the Japanese people and Government to look favourably upon India's right to get freedom. It was mainly his efforts that let the  Japanese Government to decide in favour of releasing Indian prisoners of war to form an army that would eventually be a Japanese ally to take on British in South East Asia. Subhas Chandra Bose had been in contact with Rashbehari Bose since 1933, when he (Subhas) was exiled in Europe.

rashbehari ina.jpg
Rashbehari Bose in Japan.jpg
Rashbehari Bose, president of the Indian Independence League and Captain Mohan Singh, commander of the newly formed Indian National Army, taking guards from the soldiers of INA in 1942. Mohan Singh later dissolved the INA on account of differences with the Japanese and was arrested. INA was in a disarray, to be reorganized by Rashbehari, until Subhas Bose came and took responsibility on 4th July 1943. Image courtesy
Rashbehari Bose, in Japan, along with Mitsuyo Toyama, head of the Black Dragon Society, who helped the young revolutionary escape deportation and settle in Japan. Toyama arranged for the stay of Rashbehari with the Soma family of the Nakamuraya bakery, and his marriage with the eldest daughter Toshiko. Rashbehari taught the Indian cuisine to Japanese society and also carried out his fight for India's freedom by creating awareness among East Asians. Image courtesy Wikipedia

Formation of Indian National Army and Azad Hind

The book 'Jai Hind, The Diary of a Rebel Daughter of India' gives a vivid account of the turbulent period in the South East Asia when the Japanese tsunami swept the British away from the islands.  "Everyone is now realizing that the British Empire is not impregnable, that defeat and disgrace can also besmirch its flag. On 7th December (1941), the Japs struck the initial blow at Pearl Harbour. Guam fell on 13th, Wake Island on 22nd, Hong Kong on 25th, Manila on 2nd January. Penang is in Japanese hand from 20th December. Ipoh, the industry base, fell on 29th December." By February Malaya fell in Japanese hands. Then came the turn of the "impregnable" Singapore. "15000 British, 13,000 Australian and 32,000 Indian troops surrendered" on February 15, as per the diary entry of the rebel daughter. A timeline of the Japanese conquests is given in this blog post.

In October 1941 Major Fujiwara, had contacted Gyani Pritam Singh, a nationalist spiritual leader who was based out of Bangkok. Pritam Singh was part of Indian Independence League. Swami Satyananda Puri and Debnath Das too joined him. In December 1941 Captain Mohan Singh and his associates of the British Indian Army had made a daring escape through the Malaya jungles after his army was defeated and captured by the Japanese forces in Malaya. Mohan Singh was taken to Bangkok by Giani Pritam Singh and was assured that Japanese considered Asia for Asiatics. Mohan Singh was persuaded to work for Indian independence and after a lot of discussions Mohan agreed to help the Japanese to win over the Indian soldiers to their side. After the fall of Singapore on 15th February 1942, Indian soldiers were separated from the British and Col. J. C Hunt handed over 40,000 Indian prisoners to Major Fujiwara, who told the soldiers to fight for the Indian National Army for India's freedom and be treated with dignity and respect. The message was received with overwhelming majority by the soldiers, though most of the officers remained non committal. It is estimated that around 40,000 soldiers joined the INA.  There were several other reasons for soldiers to quit the British Indian army. There was widespread racial discrimination as Indian soldiers, even officers, received much lower salary than their British counterparts. The Indian officers did not get membership of most of the clubs. When the British were defeated in Malay their reputation as a superior force was tarnished.  Mohan Singh and Col. Naranjan Singh Gill wanted to send few daring army officers to India to prepare the people for the war with Britain. A 14 member team was supposed to travel, some via submarine, others via land. But the plan was compromised owing to the betrayal of Major Mahaveer Singh Dhillon and his close associates who surrendered to British along with all important documents. All others travelling via Arakan route and via submarine were captured by the British. Satyen Vardhan, Abdul Khader and two others were sent to the gallows. Major General A. C Chatterjee, a prominent member of INA had got wind of the plans of betrayal and had informed Rashbehari Bose. Rashbehari had informed Mohan Singh. However  Mohan Singh failed to act against Mahaveer Singh Dhillon.

When the war had started in the far east, Rashbehari Bose, who was widely respected in Japan, had met Field Martial Sugiyama and asked for help for attack on India. However Sugiyama had turned down the proposal. Rashbehari persisted in getting help from high level Japanese leaders and took initiative in forming the Indian Independence League (IIL) which established its branches across Asia. Because of Rashbehari's efforts, Japanese Army never treated Indians in their occupied territories with indignity. After the formation of the INA, Rashbehari Bose called for a conference of Indian Independence League members in Tokyo. The conference was held in March 1942. But unfortunately Swami Satyananda Puri, Gyani Pritam Singh and Mohd Akram Khan died in an aircrash. In Tokyo conference it was decided to have a conference again in Bangkok to establish a united independence league. On 15 June 1942 the Bangkok conference was held with Rashbehari Bose as the chairman. This conference passed a resolution  that defined the role of the League in the independence movement, its relations with the Indian National Army, and the conditions for Japanese support. The Japanese had then established a liaison office under Iwakuro who replaced Fujiwara. The Iwakuro Kikan acted with arrogance and high handedness that irked the Indian military and civilian leadership. Captain Mohan Singh, after his return from Tokyo conference called a conference of military officers of Indian origin. In this conference he first called for the formation of the Indian National Army as part of Indian independence movement.  In Bangkok conference also Mohan Singh spoke on how he was instrumental in forming the Indian Army and fought the British. In that conference it was decided that Captain Mohan Singh would be the Commander in Chief of this Army of Liberation for India. The IIL would make arrangements for the supply of men, material, and money required by the INA and would coordinate with the Japanese Government to supply the necessary arms and equipment. INA would be commanded by Indian officers and would be only working for the liberation of India. A council of action was established with Rashbehari Bode as the president and Mohan Singh as the leader of the Army. Mohan Singh had only eight or nine years of experience and hence his elevation was not well accepted. British Indian Army officers like Shah Nawaz Khan stayed away from joining the INA. INA was formally established on 1st September 1942. It was ordained that the INA would be free of religious and other biases and would be based on the threefold principles of Unity, Faith and Sacrifice. Because of desertions and betrayals of the officers, and lack of trust between Japanese and Indians, INA remained non functional. Moreover Mohan Singh's haughtiness and impatience in dealing with the Japanese resulted in feuds and the Japan liaison office made some unfortunate comments against Mohan Singh. Mohan acted rashly by issuing an order to the army to dissolve INA and destroy all documents if he was arrested. He also wrote an unfortunate letter to the President of the Council Rashbehari Bose. He made the officers and soldiers take an oath not to join INA if it was formed again.  The young men of the IIL in the meanwhile had decided to form a Youth League and wanted to control the movement themselves. Rashbehari Bose, despite his failing health and age, tried his best to reconcile the differences. In February 1943 he gave an assurance that Subhas Chandra Bose would come and take control of Azad Hind Fauj. This acted as catalyst for many to join and reconstitute the INA. Prior to Subhas's arrival the Japanese army had mistreated Indian army men by assigning them inferior duties, starving them, beating them, or worse sending the anti aircraft gun men to certain death.  After Subhas's arrival and under his leadership this kind of treatment completely stopped.  Subhas had earlier sent a message from the Berlin Radio to the members of the Bangkok conference accepting their invitation to join IIL in its effort to liberate India with its own army. On July 2, Subhas Chandra Bose, accompanied by Abid Hasan, landed in Singapore in a twin engine Japanese aircraft. He was greeted with a song "Subhasji Subhasji woh jaan e Hind aa gaye, woh naaz jispe Hind ko woh Shaan e Hind aa gaye" composed by Mumtaz Hussain and set to music by Ram Singh Thakur.  Now the most popular revolutionary leader was to take the reigns from the most respected elder revolutionary who had spent his life fighting for India, and was preparing for his one last fight.

Situation in India - British Raj's absolute hold and Gandhi's defeat

Michael Edwardes in his book "The Last Years of British India" had said, the Government obliged Gandhi by treating him with considerable respect jailing him occasionally to keep up appearances while they took much more positive action against terrorists and those Western style revolutionaries whom they really feared." He went on, "The British felt that they had little to fear from Gandhi himself, for they soon recognized him for what he was - an anti Western reformer." "Gandhi's whole aim was to minimize violence; the Government's was the same." He added.

Gandhi was fasting in February 1943 but Viceroy Linlithgow was in no mood to placate him. The followers of Gandhi believed that the failure of the August movement was owing to the absence of Gandhi who was interned in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune. Gandhi suffered two personal tragedies as his secretary Mahadev Desai and wife Kasturba passed away while they were interned. Gandhi took a fast for self purification. The August movement turned violent in many places as Government tried extreme means to crush it ruthlessly. The movement was leaderless, disorganized and without any concrete programme, demonstrating a complete leadership failure on the part of Congress. R.C Majumdar observes that 1942 was really a soldier's battle. The general bungled but all glory to the soldiers who laid down their lives as martyrs. Gandhi was not destined to play any active role in struggle for India's freedom again. Gandhi failed in his chief objective of establishing Hindu Muslim unity. In his zeal to ensure the unity he had often acted in a partisan way, against the interests of the Hindus, much to the chagrin of the Hindu leaders. Muslims kept themselves aloof from August movement and remained peaceful and neutral. Muslim League had established ministries in Bengal, Assam, Sindh, and NWFP and increased its influence in Punjab. Thus Jinnah had the supreme authority over the region he considered to be Pakistan. The role of Communist Party was the most disgraceful. They out and out betrayed the National cause in favour of what they considered as people's war. They virtually became agents of British Government with disastrous consequences for India. CPI had earlier sabotaged the Civil Disobedience movement. After a successful strike of the textile industry, Government had declared the party illegal. The party adopted a strategy of infiltrating Congress and sought to form an alliance with the socialists. This Trojan Horse policy was paid off. It used the Congress for its own propaganda. Communists also infiltrated among the student organizations. The conference of Communist students passed a resolution declaring India as a lose confederation of various states instead of being one Nation. This was done clearly to enlist the support of Muslim League. As soon as Hitler invaded Russia in June 1941 the Communists, foregoing their hitherto anti war stance actively supported the British war efforts. Communist leaders were set free, and acted as stooges or spies of the Government and helped them against their own country men. Communists also kept the workers out of national unrest. They supported the demand of Pakistan and sought to destroy the unity of India by openly playing second fiddle to the League. They also made an outrageous claim that every linguistic group in India had a distinct nationality and was therefore entitled to the right to secede. They infiltrated the All India Women's conference and set up literary and cultural organizations as centres of propaganda. It was paid back by the people of India when it failed to win a single seat in the general election to the Central Legislative Assembly.  They had called Subhas Quisling of India, called him names like Tojo's dog and a Fascist leader, which led Subhas loyalist leader Leela Roy to stoutly denounce their hypocrisy and anti nationalist propaganda.

Lord Linlithgow retired from Viceroyalty in October 1943 after holding that office for seven and half years, longer than any other Viceroy. He left India in the grips of a terrible famine which was mainly due to the Government's scorched earth policy in which estimated 3 to 4 million perished. Sapru remarked wryly, Linlithgow left India more divided than it was when he came. Lord Wavell, the commander in chief of India in 1942, succeeded him.  

In the name of God, I take this sacred oath, that to liberate India and the thirty eight crores of my countrymen, I, Subhas Chandra Bose, will continue this sacred war of freedom till the last breath of my life. 

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