How India got independence, legacy of the INA trials, Netaji hailed as liberator
Death or Disappearance
What happened on 18th August is vividly described in Wikipedia article on Subhas Bose and therefore need not be elaborated on the website. Prof. Sugato Bose deals with the subject matter in great details in His Majesty's Opponent. The story is largely based on the testimony of those who claim to be the eye witnesses, including Col. Habibur Rahman, Netaji's adjutant, and the other Japanese army men who survived the so called crash. Ayer was packed on a bomber to Tokyo and was given the news on 20th August by Rear Admiral Chuda, no. 2 in Japanese Navy in the Burmese waters, on the day he was waiting for his plane in the Saigon aerodrome. Debnath Das, Col. Gulzara Singh, Col. Pritam Singh and Abid Hasan were to be flown to Hanoi in another plane. Major General Chatterjee was brought to Saigon and then he was also transported to Hanoi to be with his colleagues. On 23rd August Sahai informed them that Radio Tokyo had broadcasted the news that Netaji was dead. As per the official version, the bomber carrying Netaji, Habibur Rahman, Shidei and other Japanese army men, had stopped for the night in Tourane in French Indo China. It resumed its flight the next day and arrived in Taihoku (Formosa or Taiwan). On August 18, at around 2.30 PM it took off after re-fueling and suddenly it lost height and crashed. General Shidei died on the spot along with the pilot and few others. Among 14 men there were seven survivors to tell the tale. Netaji and Habib managed to come out of the plane but Netaji's clothes were on fire and his face and body parts were badly burned. He was taken to the Japanese military hospital in Taihoku and was still conscious but in great pain. His last words to Habibur Rahman was, "I feel that I shall die very soon. I have fought for India’s freedom until the last. Tell my country- men India will be free before long. Long live Free India." He passed away between 8 and 9 PM. Habibur Rahman sought to embalm the body and get it transported to Singapore but the provisions for embalming were not available and the coffin size was too large to be put in a bomber. Habibur Rahman did not allow to take photograph of the dead body as the face was badly distorted. The body was taken to the Taihoku crematorium and was consigned to the flames with only Habibur and few other Japanese petty officers as witnesses on August 20. It was not immediately known what happened to Shidei's body. The ashes were later brought to Tokyo by Habibur Rahman and funeral rites were observed in the Renkoji temple on September 14. Japan broadcasted the news of death from Radio Tokyo on 23rd August, 5 days after the actual incident. The world, particularly India and the SE Asia, was stunned. Many disbelieved the death story, among them were his close followers, elder brother Sarat Bose and even Mahatma Gandhi.
Incidentally when S.A Ayer decided to go to Taihoku after 19th Aug upon hearing of the plane crash of Netaji he was accommodated in a bomber that was supposed to go to Taihoku, but instead of Taihoku the Japanese bomber took him to Taichu and despite his repeated protests they could not send him to Taihoku, citing poor weather conditions as the reason. So effectively none but Habibur Rahman remained the sole witness and what passed between Japanese leaders and Netaji in that closed room conference in Saigon with Habibur Rahman being the only participant, still remains a closely guarded secret.
Writes Hugh Toye, "But It is humanly certain that he died on August 18th, 1945, in the Nammon Ward of the Japanese Military Hospital at Taihoku. Had he survived and reached Dairen, he would have tried to place himself and as many of his faithful friends as possible under Russian protection." Question is, did he even intend to do that? Nobody can answer and therefore this matter is best explored in the light of the evidences and the counter evidences, testimonies and the gaps in them, facts and arguments. Hugh Toye’s argument is clearly wrong – any attempt to bring his colleagues would have made known to the world that he was not dead, there were infiltrators in IIL, Japan would be in a very embarrassing position and so would be Russia. Bose would never have risked it. Instead, he would have focused on building it up all over again. One night in April 1945 – Major Swami and Ayer was called to his room, and he said to them, "Italy gone, then Germany, then Japan. Which other world power shall we turn to next ? What about turning to Russia ? " Was he really joking or had he already made up his mind about seeking help from Russia in the event that Japan surrendered? It is now quite evident that Netaji's planned end destination was Dairen in Manchuria and not Tokyo. They key question would be, had he really set up and staged a disappearance to continue with the struggle for freedom, or did he accidentally die in an aircrash?
Impact on South East Asia
The Japanese surrender came as a surprise to the allied forces as the long haul of reoccupying the erstwhile colonies had to be done quickly and decisively. But the task was made onerous by the fact that in many of these places Nationalistic movements had taken their birth and they were no longer willing to have a foreign power on their soil. From Malaya to Sumatra to Java to Indo Chin, it was the same story repeated. In 1940, The Vichy regime in France had decided to give access to Tonkin to the Japanese following the Japanese occupation of French Indo China. By 1945 Japanese had a complete control of Indo China. Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were proclaimed as independent states, members of Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (source: Wikipedia). After the surrender of Japan, the French tried to reassert their authority but came into direct conflict with the Viet Minh. On 2 September 1945 President Ho Chi Minh declared independence for the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. French control was reestablished by the European allied forces. By 1950 French suffered its first defeat and by 1954 Viet Minh won its decisive victory. Cambodia also became free under Sihanouk in 1953. Between 1945 and 1960, three dozen new states in Asia and Africa achieved autonomy or outright independence from their European colonial rulers. Local nationalists who had been fighting the Japanese occupation started fighting the colonial rulers once Japan surrendered. In Indonesia for instance Japan had defeated Netherlands in 1942. After Japan's surrender on August 17, 1945, Indonesia declared its independence under its leaders Sukarno and Hatta, with Japanese support. Indonesia became completely free from Dutch influence by 1949. Thus although Japan was vanquished, it's battles and conquests paved the way for the liberation of Asian countries through a newfound assertion of Nationalistic identities against the colonial masters. It is also believed that a retreating Japan helped the rebels of the colonies with arms and ammunition for them to wage war against the European powers. Netaji's Azad Hind Fauj was thus a forerunner for all the Nationalistic movements against the colonial powers in Asia. In Burma where Aung San had sided with the British to drive out Japan, a military administration was established. After the war ended, the British Governor, Colonel Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith, returned. A rift had developed between the Communists and Aung San, and they had opposed the Government. Dorman-Smith was replaced by Major-General Sir Hubert Rance as the new Governor, and almost immediately after his appointment, the Rangoon Police went on strike. The strike, starting in September 1946, then spread from the police to the government employees and came close to becoming a general strike (Wikipedia). A new executive council was formed with participation from Aung San and negotiations for Burmese independence was carried out. Aung San had an agreement with Attlee in January 1947, that led to dissatisfaction among some of the key stakeholders in Burma. Aung San also succeeded in concluding an agreement with ethnic minorities for a unified Burma on 12 February, celebrated since as 'Union Day'. However in July 1947, Aung San was assassinated. On 4 January 1948. Burma chose to become a fully independent republic, and not a British dominion upon independence. This was in contrast to the independence of India. In Malaya, after Japanese retreat and surrender, a Federation of Malaya was created under British protection, but because of a Communist insurrection that lasted until the 1950s, independence of Malaya became an established fact. A general election was held in 1955 and Malaya became independent in 1957. Thus the Japanese surrender in its wake had ensured that the Nationalists take control in almost all the South East Asian Nations, driving out the colonial powers, in many cases through armed revolution and insurgence, a la Indian National Army of Subhas Chandra Bose, one of the most popular Asian leaders.
The Capture and the Trial of INA men - Treatment of INA prisoners of war
After the failure of the Simla Conference, British Government wanted to make it clear that they were committed to the realization of their promise of self governance to India. Accordingly on 21st August they had declared the elections for the various legislative councils to be held in the winter. Wavell was intent on making his Executive Council after the main elections. The moribund state of Indian politics was rejuvenated once more with the arrival of the news of death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the imprisonment and the impending trial of the INA men, esp. their top brass - G.S Dhillon, Prem Kumar Sahgal and Shah Nawaz Khan. Prior to the issue of INA emerging, Congress was in a rather sorry state. Six years of complete inaction had taken its toll on the party and its leadership. In the words of Dr. R.C Majumdar, "The impending elections served, in a sense, to clear the political sky in India. The Muslims outside the Muslim League could clearly feel which way the wind was blowing and flocked to the standard of the League. The number of Nationalist Muslims who still adhered to the Congress was almost negligible. Thus, on the eve of the election, the two rival Parties—the Congress and the Muslim League—stood face to face, representing, broadly speaking, the Hindu and Muslim elements of the population in India. Both the Parties made elaborate preparations for contesting the election. The Muslim League fought on the single issue of Pakistan. The Congress announced that it would contest the elections on the issue of the immediate transfer of power." Dr. R.C Majumdar made a pointed reference of how the INA trials helped to shape up Congress to get back to the mainstream. He writes in the History of Freedom Movement in India, "The Congress had grave difficulties in fighting the elections. It had been in wilderness for more than three years, its organizations had broken down as many leaders and members were still in prison, and its party funds had been sequestrated by the Government. But, as on more than one occasion in the past, the blunders committed by the Government came to its rescue just at the psychological moment when its fortunes were at a very low ebb. It was the trial of the Indian soldiers who had joined the Indian National Army (I.N.A.) organized by Subhas Bose in Singapore. About twenty-five thousand Indian soldiers —-prisoners of war in the hands of the Japanese, who had joined the I.N.A., were rounded up after the collapse of the Japanese army in Burma. The military authorities, on the basis of evidence in their possession, brought charges against some of the Officers not only of waging war against the King but also of committing gross brutality on the members of the I.N.A. accused of desertion. Accordingly a Military Tribunal was constituted by an Ordinance and the first batch of three accused officers—a Hindu, a Muslim, and a Sikh—were put on public trial in the historic Red Fort at Delhi.
The then Advocate General of India, N.P Engineer, brought serious allegations against the INA like using force on the prisoners of the war to join the Azad Hind Fauj, killing unwilling soldiers who refused to join INA, torture and other means to get the British Indian soldiers on the side of the INA and also sending the enemies to the concentration camps. Prima facie they all seem to be false allegations and without rational. Nobody can be forced to join an army like INA that survives on the basis of commitment to the cause. Bhulabhai Desai, who had cross examined the witnesses, proved that there were many inconsistencies in their statements, and therefore their statements were unreliable. Several witnesses of the Government like Dilasha Ram or Shahidullah Khan actually gave statements in favour of the defendants and thus made the case against the accused Shah Nawaz, Dhillon and Sahgal, untenable. In the course of the trial it was clearly mentioned that since INA had been the armed military wing of a Government that was accepted and accredited internationally, the soldiers of the Azad Hind Fauj would be entitled to be given the status of Belligerent as per international law. Therefore they should not be tried in a British court. The defendants denied all the charges against them and said that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had made it clear that only those who were ready to face extreme hardship and even death, were eligible to join the Azad Hind Fauj. So there was no question of any coercion or threat to induct soldiers in the INA. The cases that were highlighted by the British Government, of killing of the antagonists, were pointed out to be false. The charges of sending enemy soldiers to the concentration camps was also false as the Government could not even prove the existence of any such camp run by the INA or the Azad Hind Government. Dhillon for instance highlighted that several of his soldiers from his regiment, when they were told about the likely hardships, decided to leave the regiment and were all sent back to Rangoon.
The British and the allied forces had a nick name for the INA soldiers. They were called JIFC (Japanese Indian Fifth Column) or in short, JIFFs. Writes Peter Fay, "What the (British) Indian Army saw in the rest, the ex-Indian Army men, was a distorted mirror image of itself, men turned by some dreadful combination of circumstance, temptation, and duress into dupes, renegades, utterly faithless men. They could not simply be held until the war was over, then sent back to their families in India. Nor could they all, the many thousands of them, be quietly hanged or shot. A mix of reincorporation, rehabilitation, and punishment was required. To make this operative, some way had to be found of winnowing out the recoverable, then arranging the rest in groups ranked according to the severity of the proposed punishment simple men who, overwhelmed by defeat and the abrupt withdrawal of their British officers, had lost their bearings and behaved like sheep.They were to be denominated “whites,” sent back to their regimental depots, and readmitted into the ranks. Then there would be those who, while entitled to a measure of sympathy and understanding because of the pressure put upon them and the indoctrination they had undergone, nevertheless showed by their manner that they had bent to the one and listened to the other. These were “greys,” bound for special “reconditioning” camps before being allowed, perhaps, to rejoin. Finally, there were those who exhibited by word, deed, or rank a fundamental disloyalty, compounded perhaps by criminal behavior. Let them be called “blacks.” Blacks were not to be returned to their regiments. They were security risks, just as Japanese soldier prisoners were—but doubly so, since the war’s end would not make them “safe” and therefore eligible for repatriation. For them there would remain the question of court-martial and appropriate sentencing. It was the Forward Interrogation Unit that determined whether a man was white, grey, or black. (If black, he was sent at once, if feasible, to CSDIC at Delhi, where he was questioned again with an eye to his probable trial.) He continues, "By early July of 1945, half a dozen shiploads (of INA men) had already gone. When Japan surrendered, the Government of India had no option but to bring home the rest. So as the rains petered out and the cool weather approached, large bodies of Jiffs reached Chittagong and Calcutta by sea and and were carried thence to places all over north India. To Jhikargacha (Jassore) of course, and Nilganj (which is also near Calcutta).To Khadki outside Poona, and Bahadurgarh close to Delhi. To Attock on the Indus two hundred miles northwest of Lahore, Multan on the Chenab two hundred miles southwest, Delhi itself (men likely to be tried or whose testimony might be needed were collected at the Red Fort), and other places, some named in the newspapers and some not. The camp at Bahadurgarh received the blacks from Bose’s German-sponsored Indian Legion."
Ayer had noted in Unto Him a Witness that when he was put up in a "cage" in the Red Fort, he asked for and got several newspapers and it suddenly seemed to him that the exploits of INA and the Netaji were everywhere and everybody was paying a glowing tribute to the role INA had played in trying to liberate India. Congress party was quick to grab the offer as the God sent opportunity that enabled it to pull itself out of the "ditch into which the Quit India crackdown had flung it" (as per Peter Fay). On the last day of the AICC session Nehru moved a resolution for the instant release of the INA soldiers held in captivity. It would be tragic, the resolution ran, if these men were to be punished for having laboured, "however mistakenly", for the freedom of India. According to the reminiscences of Dilip Kumar Roy who was a great admirer of Pandit Nehru, Subhas made a remark about Nehru that he would always try to play to the gallery. He would always go with the tide and therefore he could be popular with everyone, but that would also mean a compromise of principles and ideals at every step. Nehru also announced for the setting up of an INA Defence Committee by the Congress. In order to gather funds for the rehabilitation of the INA men as well as to meet the administration expenses of fighting their court cases, an INA Funds Committee, later known as the Relief committee, was established which raised funds from the public. Generous contributions poured in from across India. In Calcutta the movie houses donated one day box office receipts. In Cuttack a benefit football match was played until the district magistrate banned it. In Bombay the local funds committee chaired by the Mayor himself, raised Rs. 15,000 in three weeks. In Lukhnow Nehru auctioned oil paintings and raised Rs 1200 in one afternoon. Writes Dr. R. C Majumdar, "The Indian public did not, so long, know anything of the I.N.A., but now came to regard them as a band of patriotic heroes fighting for the liberation. of their motherland, and a wave of sympathy for them swept the whole of India." Congress Defence Committee included several legal luminaries including Nehru himself, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Asaf Ali and Kailas Nath Katju, apart from Bhulabhai Desai.
Gandhiji had written to the Viceroy a note saying that although he did not support taking resort to arms even in self defense, he would nevertheless request the Viceroy to not to ignore what Indians were thinking as he was not blind to the courage and patriotism of the persons. He however would end with a pathetic request, "Let His Excellency decide what is best in the circumstances." The Viceroy himself had developed doubts. He wrote to Pethick Lawrence, "This is the first occasion on which an anti British politician (read Subhas Chandra Bose) has acquired a hold over a substantial number of men in the Indian Army, and the consequences are quite incalculable." Even British officers had warned, "Bose, had filled his men with an ineradicable sense of mission. Defeated, dispersed, captured, they nevertheless remained so bitten by the independence bug as to be beyond rehabilitation."
Apart from Congress's defence committee, Achhru Ram, father of Prem Sahgal and a judge of Lahore High Court, decided to fight for all the three prisoners. But the star of the show from Defence was Bhulabhai Desai. Sapru had only made a guest appearance. Bhulabhai was a well known member of the Congress and one of the architects of the notorious Tripuri Congress where Subhas was deliberately trampled by the Gandhivadis that included Desai, Acharya Kripalani, Vallabh Bhai Patel, Rajagopalachary, Govind Ballav Panth and others. Bhulabhai was one of those who not only voted, but also actively campaigned against Subhas. Bhulabhai was now almost seventy years old, and his health was poor. Moreover he had fallen out of favour of the Congress Working Committee for his meetings with Jinnah against the wishes of the Congress. He probably had also developed a tinge of repentance and as he came to know more and more about the deeds of Subhas and INA, the Nationalist in him strongly overcame any inhibition that he might have had. The trial was scheduled to open on October 8, but defence sought more time to gather witnesses. One Captain Harichand had informed the British Government that Congress really had no interest for the INA. They had just wanted to take advantage of the impending elections, by looking at the public sentiment that strongly favoured a release of the INA men. This was revealed to Harichand by none other than Asaf Ali himself (Ladlimohan Roy Choudhury - "Azad Hind Fauj er Court Martial o Gana Bikkhobh"). It was also revealed by the British intelligence that Congress was planning to organize a large scale movement capitalizing on the Nation's mood on the Azad Hind Trials, if its demands were not fulfilled. Since the prisoners under trial involved a Muslim and a Sikh, the Muslim League of Jinnah and the Akali Dal had come forward to support the prisoners and even Hindu Mahasabha had come out openly in support for the release. The C in C Claude Auchinleck had thought that the trial was absolutely necessary to ensure that the Indian Army would see and treat them as traitors. The British Government had left no stones unturned to suppress any news about the INA's march and victories on the Indian soil, so Indian public knew next to nothing about them, not until the trial publicized their activities and that of their Netaji. The Indian Army had also had ample opportunities to mingle with the INA forces and had seen them from close quarters, in their encounters in Burma and Malaya. They had met the local Indians and seen the patriotic fervour and heard from them the exploits of the Azad Hind. However when the newspapers in India began to report about the activities of the INA in the context of the trials, it created waves of anger and resulted in an upsurge in public emotion in favour of the INA and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. SA Ayer, upon his arrival in Delhi from Tokyo to testify at the trials, realised with thrill that the "INA had literally burst upon the country... from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin was aflame with an enthusiastic fervour unprecedented in its history." Dr. Majumdar writes, "The fame of Subhas Bose’s I.N.A. and the fact that the Congress had taken up the cause of the accused excited great interest in the trial throughout India. The official evidence, given in course of the trial, brought home to the Indians, for the first time, the magnitude of the I.N.A. organization set up by Subhas Bose and the heroic feats performed by I.N.A. men. Popular enthusiasm now rose to the highest pitch. When the Muslim League associated itself with the defence of the accused, the agitation became all-India in character. There was great resentment at the persecution of the ‘patriots’ and wild popular demonstrations were held over a wide area, from Calcutta to Lahore and Bombay, and from Lucknow to Madurai, occasionally accompanied by popular outburst of violence and the firing of the police." Punjab had seen massive demonstrations and strikes on the first two days of the trial, with thousands of students demonstrating in Lahore, Lyallpur and Rawalpindi, and "INA days" were observed in Karachi, Madras, Vellore, Salem and other parts of India. In Madurai, two people were killed in police firing, and in Calcutta there was a riot with the police resulting in the death of several persons. There were open hostilities against the Europeans, even to the extent of denying them services and goods by Indian shops. Sir Norman Smith, Director of the Intelligence Bureau, in a confidential note to the Home Department, said, "There has seldom been a matter which has attracted so much public interest and it is safe to say, sympathy."
The trial lasted for 8 weeks. The main arguments put forth by the Government were that the Azad Hind Fauj in general and the prisoners under trial in particular, were guilty on three counts - They were 1) guilty of high treason, of desertion from Indian Army to help a foreign army, the Japanese, to act as collaborators and traitors 2) they had instigated and in several cases had murdered themselves those who had refused to comply with their plan, i.e they had tortured or killed British Indian Army soldiers who had refused to join them 3) They had perpetrated heinous crimes against their own men, by executing them on charges of treachery and disobedience. In the Court Martial there were seven members, including Major General A.B Blaxland. There were four British and three Indian Army members. Judge Advocate was Col. F.C.A Kerin. Waiting members included two British and two Indian Army members. Military Prosecutor P. Walsh was appointed to help the Advocate General N.P Engineer. The Government witnesses include Lt. D.C Nag, who held important positions in the Azad Hind Government. The Defence had planned for around 112 witnesses but did not need them as the Government witnesses had provided many crucial evidences in favour of the defence. Several Japanese officials were called to offer their testimony, who included Hachiyya, Katakura and Matsumoto. Former Azad Hind Government representatives like S.A Ayer, Lt. Col A.D Loganadhan, Dinanath of Azad Hind Bank etc. had been called to testify. Apart from Dhillon, Sahgal and Shah Nawaz, charge sheet was filed against three more INA soldiers - Captain Abdul Rashid, Subedar Shingara Singh and Fateh Khan. Soon they were joined by Burhanuddin. Writes Peter Fay, "The reconquest of Burma had been the Indian Army’s greatest triumph. That it should encounter there a force composed of men who had once belonged to it, constituted perhaps its greatest disgrace. The disgrace could be expunged, and the honor of the Indian Army made whole again, only by bringing to justice some, at least, of the leaders of this traitor force. A process for doing this had been set in motion. Buffeted from the outside by a rising public outcry that Congress Party orchestrated, half paralyzed on the inside by muddle, weariness, and the necessity of arranging in haste what would normally be done with magisterial deliberateness, the process faltered."
In the trial of the top three, the defendants as well as the Japanese witnesses testified how they had responded to Netaji and in glowing terms depicted the courage, the patriotism, and the leadership of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Shah Nawaz for instance proved false the allegation against him that he ordered the execution of one Mohammad Hussein for treachery, proving in the court that Hussein was convicted but was not shot as his sentence was commuted. The Government had revealed how Burhanuddin, one INA officer, had flogged to death one of the soldiers Joga singh for a petty transgression. But it was proved to be an exception attributed to a particular person. Shah Nawaz also revealed how British Army had forced them to surrender in Singapore by giving them up to the Japanese, how they had fought on equal terms in Burma and in Imphal despite severe shortages, how the INA had to endure many hardships that they had willingly borne for a cause, that of India's freedom, and how they had been motivated to that cause by their Supreme Commander and leader, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Prem Sahgal and Dhillon in their defence stated very clearly their motivation and proved that the allegations against them were baseless. Finally Bhulabhai rose to argue the case. In a ten hour long summation, disregarding his own failing health, Bhulabhai argued that it was "not a case of three individuals waging war against the King, but the right of the Indian National Army — the organised army of a duly-constituted Provisional Government of India — to wage war for India’s liberation." Bhulabhai reminded the British of the fight of the Maquis, the French revolutionaries, against German occupation. While the secret rebel army laid down its life to protect its motherland, The French emperor was a willing collaborator of the Germans. Did by rebelling against the ruling emperor the Maquis become traitors? And yet, the same Maquis were supported by the Britain. He reminded the court that when Garibaldi battled against the Italian monarch, England had given him Nationalist status. He reminded the British that Col. Hunt had handed over forty five thousand Indian prisoners of war in the Farrer Park in Singapore, without any consideration of what was going to happen to them. So the British Emperor himself did not do his duty to his men. Therefore the question of treason did not arise. A revolutionary war, waged for the liberation of a people, if properly declared and conducted, gave those waging such a war the rights of belligerents, as Britain had in the past conferred to the Bolivarian rebels in South America, of the Confederate Army in the US Civil War, or of the Dutch, Polish and Yugoslav governments-in-exile during World War II (even while they had no territory to call their own and Azad Hind Provisional Government had legitimate territories and it was recognized by no less than nine countries of the world).
It is difficult to say what the British Government aimed to achieve through an open trial. Auchinleck had written to the India Office in mid-October, “that when the evidence comes to be made public, as it will be made public because the trials are going to be open to the public, some of those gentlemen out there who have been so loud in their sympathy for the I.N.A. may sing a different tune. I think it will be difficult for them to defend murderers and torturers of people of their own race simply because they remained loyal to their salt." Writes Peter Fay, "There were two arrows in Sir Naushirwan’s quiver, the treason charge, and the charge of murder and/or abetting of murder. But as the tales were told, it became more and more apparent that they had nothing to do with Sahgal, Dhillon, and Shah Nawaz. In his closing address Engineer admitted as much. Kerin made it explicit. “There is not and never has been,” he advised the court, which as required listened to him before it retired to reach a verdict, “the least suggestion that these three accused before you were ever personally engaged in the ill-treatment of prisoners, or even that they were at any time present when men were tortured or ill-treated." In this respect Ayer's testimony was most useful as he narrated all the voluntary activities done by the Azad Hind Government's people, without any threat or coercion, like raising money, recruiting and training people, sending tonnes of rice for Bengal famine and so on. Even the witnesses of the prosecution had nothing to say against the three accused officers. One of them, Dilasa Khan, remembered Shah Nawaz saying that if they noticed any Japanese soldier mistreating any Indian woman, that soldier had to be stopped and if needed shot, because the fight was for the freedom of India and not for the well being of the Japanese. A report on Nov 17 by the Governor of Punjab, Bertrand Glancy declared that in the eyes of the Punjabis, who comprised of the most of the men in the Indian Army, Sahgal, Dhillon and Shah Nawaz were heroes. The report said that the public did not take the charges against them of murder and abetment of murder, seriously. Calling them traitors simply fed their popularity. The report stated that if a sentence of death was pronounced and was actually carried out, the British Government in Punjab would face agitation worse than that preceded the Amritsar (Jallianwalah Bagh) massacre of 1919, violence more serious than any seen during the Quit Indian Movement of 1942. The forcible suppression if any would prejudice for years any hopes of a constitutional settlement in India. Sir George Cunningham, Governor of the North-West Frontier Province, suggested something that Glancy had stopped short of. Auchinleck, he wrote, ought to announce that “as Indian opinion is opposed to the trial of these persons (Sahgal, Dhillon, and Shah Nawaz), he wipes the whole thing out and takes no further proceedings against anyone.” Announce it now, he urged the C.-in-C. Halt the first trial and cancel any that are scheduled to follow." Auchinleck wrote to the Viceroy on 26th Nov, 1945, "I know from my long experience of Indian troops how hard it is even for the best...that there is a growing feeling of sympathy for the INA."
The court pronounced its verdict. The accused were guilty of waging war against the King Emperor, but not of murder or of abetting murders or tortures. The sentence on all three was cashiering (dismissal from the service), forfeiture of pay and allowances, and transportation for life. Later the C in C Auchinleck remitted the transportation of life sentence and made them free. On the next day in Delhi a huge rally was organized in the honour of the INA heroes by the Congress in which Asaf Ali presided. More than hundred thousand people gathered in the rally. When the three officers came out of their train in the Lahore station on 5th January, 1946, they received a triumphant welcome from a huge crowd, despite section 144 imposed. The police did nothing to stop the crowd, India had progressed far from the days of the Jalliawanwala Bagh. The table had turned. Slaves were no longer slaves. Peter Fay rightly observed in the Forgotten Army that the victorious armies are granted ceremonial triumphs, defeated armies were not. The INA of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and had almost united and liberated India, exactly as he had predicted and promised to them two and half years back. The second and third trials and all subsequent trials were moved to the Delhi Cantonment. Burhanuddin was found guilty and sent to seven year's of rigorous imprisonment. Similarly Shingara Singh's and Fateh Khan's trials were delayed and their sentences were set aside after independence. One case of interest was that of Abdul Rashid. Rashid had sought help only from Muslim League and he claimed that he had joined because "he could see that Mohan Singh and his Sikh and Hindu friends intended to ride into India on the backs of the Japanese and, once there, make it a place where no decent Muslim could hold up his head. He had joined, as other Muslims he assured the court had joined, so that they could arm themselves against this conspiracy." Rashid's sentence brought the Muslim students together on the streets along with the Hindus, but with a difference. The Muslim students wanted to chant Pakistan Zindabad, instead of the customary Jai Hind (Peter Fay). It just showed how powerful the Muslim League had become and how it had indoctrinated and poisoned the youth. The supposed communal harmony that the INA trials had created broke to pieces soon. Writes Peter Fay as an astute observer, "For three years the Congress was proscribed and almost dormant. The Muslim League was not. Its membership swelled. Its organization hardened. It announced that it alone spoke for Muslims, and torpedoed Wavell's Simla Conference by insisting that all five Muslim seats on the Viceroy’s Council be filled by League men. It entered the Central and Provincial elections of late 1945 and early 1946 determined to make the point again, this time at the polls, and took every Muslim seat in the Central Legislative Assembly and nine out of every ten seats reserved for Muslims in the Provincial Legislative Assemblies. Though Congress Muslims survived (Asaf Ali entered the Central Assembly with a handy win in his Delhi open constituency), it was clear, now, that in most provinces they would continue to do so only if Hindus voted for them." In Bombay the police prevented a procession in support of the INA not to proceed through the Muslim quarters. In Jhansi, a Bose birthday procession passing through a Muslim quarter was attacked. Hooligans attacked Shah Nawaz with slogans like Pakistan Zindabad. Thus the vision of a united India that Netaji had hoped for, came to an end quickly and abruptly owing to the sinister designs of the Muslim League and the duplicity of Congress.
On 12 April, 1942, in a Delhi press conference Nehru declared that if Subhas proceeded with his force he would be resisting Subhas because he believed Subhas's army to be dummy force under Japanese control. Gandhi said that "in fact I believe that Subhas Bose will have to be resisted by us." Communists and the M.N Roy's party had directly opposed Subhas. So none of them were in fact a willing friend of the INA and Subhas. Dr. Majumdar is extremely blunt in asserting that, "There are some grounds to believe that the Government decision to put the I. N. A. men on' trial met with gratified approval, even from the Congress leaders." There were suspicions in some quarters that the Congress deliberately used the I.N.A. as an election stunt. Dr. Majumdar argues that, Whether this is true or not, there is not the least doubt that the Congress swept the polls at the crest of the wave of enthusiasm created by the I. N. A. trial. Last words were spoken by Nehru and Patel. The same Nehru who had vowed to fight Subhas's army had they brought the Japanese to India, had stood up for its defence, and remained in its support only until the elections. In a meeting in Calcutta for the INA week celebration Patel rose and explained to the crowd that the men and women of the Indian National Army deserved to be recognized for their courage and self-sacrifice, but not because they had taken up arms and fought for India’s freedom. Their greatest accomplishment, he said, had been the suppression of communal divisions. Because of this the Congress welcomed them and had a place for them. But there was a condition to meet. If they wished to enter the Congress fold they would have to adhere to the Congress creed—’’and put their swords back into the scabbard", in short, erase the memory and legacy of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Some INA men including Shah Nawaz did just that, others like Dr. Pabitramohan Roy chose not to respond and remained an outcast. Still others, like M.Z Kiani and Habibur Rahman, migrated to Pakistan.
The Possibility of a Mutiny, Worst Fears of Britain
As popular resentment against the INA trials grew and the mutiny infected the Navy, the British confidence was shaken. They were no longer certain about the loyalties of the Indian soldiers. It was no longer possible to hold on to the power in India without increasing the number of troops, administrators and other expenses, which the almost bankrupt Britain living on a beggar's bowl could ill afford. Congress, meanwhile, after winning the general elections on the INA wave, had shown a volt face. Nehru had accompanied Mountbatten to Singapore where he, despite an initial confirmation, never turned up to put a wreathe on the destroyed INA memorial, leaving the Indians there seething. On the issue of the reinstating the INA soldiers to the Indian Army, he wrote a letter to the Commander in Chief General Auchinleck on 4 May, 1946 - "I believe everyone who has thought seriously about the INA knows that it is dangerous and risky to undermine the discipline of an Army. It would damage the fine instrument that the Indian Army is." - a hollow statement. To the general public however, Bose stood as a colossal figure whose loss was sorely felt amidst the lack of leadership and the ensuing chaos. The British intelligence reports had admitted that Bose enjoyed a greater support among the Muslims than Mr. Jinnah, atleast definitely in the Eastern Bengal. There were confessions of Muslim League leaders like Suhrawardy and later Mujibar Rahman, to that effect. According to Rudolf Hartog, who had seen the Indian Legion and its Muslim soldiers from a close quarter, the "Muslim league, under the leadership of Jinnah, was no legitimate representative of the Indian Muslims, but rather a reactionary clique with selfish plutocratic interests. Their propagated division of India, was a hidden British maneuver to divide India as they had once divided Ireland.
Auchinleck's concerns about the Indian Army getting impacted by the INA trials was not unfounded. British Intelligence reports pointed to the same possibility. The so called JIFFs (and HIFFs) often came from the same villages as that of the loyal British soldiers and were close relatives to many of them. When the JIFFs would tell the villagers the story of a freedom army, that had fought for what even villagers of India had begun to aspire after, they would most certainly influence the so called loyal army men. Home Secretary on the subject of detention camps had said that longer the INA men were kept together, the worse they became. In Burma senior officers begged New Delhi to ship the last Jiffs home before the blacks finished infecting the whites (Peter Fay). Wavell had sent a report to the prime minister narrating the possibility of a armed struggle by Congress with the help of the INA men. His note read, ”The rising would come in the spring, or “quite possibly earlier.” It would mean an organized assault upon the fabric of government, attacks on railroads, telegraph offices, police stations, public buildings generally. Government servants would be hunted down and killed. It would be 1942 all over again, though on a much larger scale. And its object would be “the expulsion of the British." Auchinleck also wanted the British Government to declare their plan for India. “In the absence of a firm declaration,” Auchinleck added, “the loyalty of the Indian Forces is likely progressively to deteriorate. . . .” If the rot went far enough and an insurrection occurred, it would be up to British battalions to suppress it. But there were very few British battalions in India. The task would be beyond them. They would not even be able to protect the lines of communication over which reinforcements from abroad would have to move." Attlee wrote Pethick Lawrence that everything depended upon the reliability and the spirit of the Indian Army. He wrote, "Provided that they do their duty, armed insurrection in India would not be an insoluble problem. If, however, the Indian Army were to go the other way, the picture would be very different. It is therefore clear that all possible steps should be taken to foster the loyalty of the Indian Forces, to show them that they have the solid backing of His Majesty’s Government (source: The Forgotten Army). In his conclusion Peter Fay says in his 'The Forgotten Army', "In the autumn of 1945 India was swept by a storm of excitement and indignation, a storm that Bose and his renegades ignited. It was a storm the Indian officer, and the jawan too, could not ignore. They did not ignore it. We have it on the authority of the Commander-in-Chief that they did not ignore it. In 1942, at the time of Quit India, there had been no question of their reliability. Now their own commander doubted it. Three years of campaigning, three years climaxed by battlefield victories in Europe and on the Irrawaddy, do not explain the change. Only that autumn storm can. It was the Indian National Army that forced Britain’s hand. Not by struggle would India become free, Mason was saying. Not by struggle did she, the twelve volumes of India: The Transfer of Power announce. The instruments of governance were not won, they were delivered, in the manner of the father handing the car keys to his son. Among those instruments, perhaps chief among them, was the Indian Army. It was to be passed on as it stood, regimental flags, battle honors, the full range of practice and tradition, untouched and inviolate. It was because Bose and his Jiffs had by their very presence threatened to bring the structure down, that it had been thought necessary (Bose being dead) to put Jiffs on trial."
Peter Fay rues the fact that though there are many roads, statues and avenues in the name of Subhas Chandra Bose and a museum dedicated to him in Calcutta (Netaji Bhavan), he could not find a single road, statue of any officer or a museum dedicated to the Azad Hind or INA. Since then atleast Delhi has an Azad Hind Marg and an INA museum has been set up in the Red Fort. The Netaji related papers that have been classified are in the National archives and are available through netajipapers.gov.in.
Clement Attlee's claim - the real cause of India's independence
Justice Phani Bhushan Chakrabarty, who hosted Clement Attlee when the former Prime Minister of Britain had visited India in 1956, in the Governor's house, made a sensational claim. In a letter to the publisher of the noted historian Dr. R.C Majumdar's book, History of Bengal, he stated that, "When I was the acting Governor, Lord Attlee who had given us independence by withdrawing British rule from India, spent two days in the Governor's palace in Calcutta. At that time I had a prolonged discussion with him regarding the real factors that had led the British to quit India. My direct question to Attlee was that, since Gandhi's Quit India movement had tapered off quite sometime ago and in 1947 no such new compelling situation had arisen, that would necessitate a hasty British departure, why did they have to leave? In his reply Attlee cited several reasons, the principal among them being the erosion of loyalty to the British crown among the Indian army and the Navy personnel as a result of the military activities of Netaji. Towards the end of our discussion I asked Attlee, what was the extent of Gandhi's influence upon the British decision to quit India. Hearing this question Attlee's lips became twisted in a sarcastic smile as he slowly chewed out the word, m-i-n-i-m-a-l." (Source: Bose: an Indian Samurai, by Maj. Gen. G.D Bakshi)
Murder of INA prisoners - the Nilganj massacre
It is also alleged that the British Government had killed a large no. of INA soldiers in the Jhikargacha and the Nilganj camps. There are collective memories from the local population who had been witnesses to large scale firings during the midnight. According to the eyewitness testimony a large no. of INA soldiers who were identified as "blacks" by the British Government were killed on the night of 25th September 1946, and their bodies were burnt. Machine gun fires were heard throughout the night and in the morning villagers and local residents could see piles of burnt and unburnt bodies. Many bodies were dumped in the local river whose water turned red. While commenting on this incident, Amrita Bazar Patrika reported that Nehru had said that there was a firing in Nilganj camp and only 5 people had died. Till date no serious research has been done on this subject by the eminent historians.
An account of the slaughter is given here -
Writes Kanailal Basu in his book Netaji Rediscovered, "File relating to the Jhikargacha camp, available in the National Archives, contains documents showing a report sent by the Eastern Command to the General HQ, informing them about the killing of INA prisoners. There were about 1580 prisoners in Jhikargacha camp." None of them were released. So it is presumed that all were killed in one night's covert operation that left no witness alive.
The Mutinies in the Army, Navy and Airforce - India gets her Independence
The airmen of the Royal Indian Airforce had gone for a strike by the end of January, 1946 to protest against alleged discrimination against the officers. American journalists reported the desertion of Indian Army troops in Indonesia when they were asked to shoot the nationalists. But the most serious threat came from a mutiny on the Navy. On 18 February, the ratings of the Signal School in Bombay went on a hunger-strike in protest against what their Central Strike Committee described as ‘untold hardships regarding pay and food and the most outrageous racial discrimination,’ and in particular against their Commander’s derogatory references to their national character. They were joined later by ratings from other naval establishment. Naval rating MS Khan and fellow Naval rating Madan Singh had begun the revolt on HMS Talwar in Bombay. In Karachi port ratings began a revolt on HMIS Hindustan. By 19 February 1946, ratings from Castle and Fort Barracks had joined the revolt. Soon the revolt spread to Kochi, Vizag and Kolkata ports. One of the participants was B.C Dutt, a five year veteran in Navy, who was an ardent nationalist who, along with his colleagues took the name of Azad Hindi, in obvious reference to the INA as inspiration. The insulting taunts of the commanding officer King, disrespect and discrimination, disparities in salary between Indians and Europeans and poor quality of food were contributing factors, but the mutineers had already been caught by the Nationalist bug. What started as acts of vandalism soon turned into strikes. Mutineers took hold of all the ammunition and trained their guns on the major landmarks. About 78 ships were occupied by the mutineers including HMIS Bahadur, Chamak and the Himalayas.
A central Naval Strike Committee was established and a charter of demands was prepared. About 20,000 ratings joined the strike. Union Jack was pulled down from all ships and Tri Colour was hoisted atop. Strikers had asked for Aruna Asaf Ali to be part of the negotiation. More and more rating from the signal communications joined the strike. Members of the Royal Indian Airforce joined the strike on 21st February. The ratings had pledged to remain non violent based on assurance from the Congress leaders. Muslim League had also advised the Muslim members to resolve amicably the differences in the negotiation table. Gandhiji, Patel, Nehru, all the top Congress leaders had refrained from supporting the ratings, although the ratings had appealed to them. Lockhart, leader of the Southern command, had promised to break the mutiny. He deployed British Indian Army to chase the mutineers to their barracks from the streets. But large scale violence started with an assault on the ratings. Because of Congress's indifference Communists soon tried to hijack the movement. Congress, who knew that a transfer of power was in anvil, could ill afford a militant army or a navy, so their leader's assurance of support was a mere lip service. The mutiny was remarkable for the Hindu Muslim unity and solidarity in the face of severe communal tensions fostered by League. Naturally League was apprehensive. The unrest spread to the lands as mill workers, students, railway workers all joined the strikes. Army took to violently curb the protests and the British authorities including Godfrey, the officer commanding RIN, threatened to exterminate the ratings as police forces refused to take part. Sardar Patel who had urged for restraint, did not provide any help. Artillery guns were trained against the ratings in HMIS Hindustan. There were many casualties among Indian sailors. British destroyers positioned themselves along Gateway of India. By 22nd February, having no national leaders supporting their cause, and being betrayed by the violent actions of the Army, the ratings had surrendered. It is significant that the mutineers called themselves as Indian National Navy and used slogans like Jai Hind. The ratings also used the picture of Subhas Chandra Bose. One of their demands was to release the INA prisoners. After the great betrayal of Congress and the League, the ratings were subjected to court martial and about 476 of them including Dutt, Madan Singh and Khan were dismissed, never to be reinstated in either India or in Pakistan.
Mutiny in the army barracks in Jabalpur took place on 27 February. The people involved were Indian Signal Corps personnel posted in the Signal Training Centre in Jabalpur. The Jabalpur mutiny, in which more than 1700 men were involved, was also put down with an iron hand. This was the first major mutiny in the armed forces after the war and it unnerved the British Government.
Provisional Government of India was formed on 2nd September, 1946 with members from the Viceroy's Executive council, with the council's Vice President Nehru assuming the prime ministership of a largely Congress Government. Patel became the Home Minister. Muslim League later joined the Government with Liaqat Ali as the Finance Minister. Clement Attlee had sent the cabinet mission to negotiate the transfer of power arrangements. Mountbatten assumed power from Wavell to become the Governor General post independence. Rob Lockhart became the Commander in Chief post independence, taking over the baton from Claude Auchinleck. In August 1946, Muslim League declared Direct Action Day and severe violence followed. Many people, mostly Hindus, were killed by the marauding Muslim mobs in the Great Calcutta Killings in August, 1946. Great carnage followed in East Bengal, particularly in Noakhali where Hindus were massacred by a huge gathering of Muslim mobs. many women were raped, and men were converted or killed. Hindus retaliated in Bihar and United Province. Mountbatten got Cyril Radcliffe to draw the borders across the heart of India, denoting the Hindu and the Muslim majority areas which would be part of India and Pakistan resp. The waves of insanity followed in the wake of the partition and the independence or the transfer of power from the white sahibs to the brown ones who continued the same legacy of divide and rule. India got her independence but not in the way Subhas had hoped for, nor in the peaceful way that Vivekananda had envisioned, nor through only non violence as was the desire of Mahatma. Subhas did not fight for a moth eaten India that would be cut into pieces by the crafty politicians in connivance with the British who dealt a parting blow. Particularly the agony of Bengal would have made him very very angry and he would have vowed to re unite India.
Said Jawaharlal Nehru, "The truth is that we were tired men, and we were getting on in years too. Few of us could stand the prospect of going to prison again - and if we had stood out for a united India as we wished it, prison obviously awaited us..The plan of partition offered a way out and we took it." - A candid admission. Leonard Mosley in his Last Days of the British Raj had said, "But for Nehru and Patel, and all the Congressmen yearning for the fruits of power the carrot Mountbatten dangled in front of their noses was too delectable to be refused. They gobbled it down."
Youtube video of exploring INA Musuem, courtesy Anuj Dhar
Treatment meted out to the INA and Netaji's legacy in free India
How the Government of free India treated INA - Taken from S.A Ayer's Indian National Army -
"An l.N.A. rally at Bombay in 1949 urged the Government of India to accept their sacred obligation to the families and dependents of the l.N.A. men who had laid down their lives in the war of liberation, and to the wounded and the disabled; the rally also urged the government to provide an opportunity to all ranks of the l.N.A. to serve free India by reabsorbing them in their proper ranks in the armed forces of India and to pay them their just dues. Two years later, in April 1951, at a joint meeting of the All-India I.N.A. Inquiry and Relief Committee and the I.N.A. Advisory Committee at the Government of India secretariat in New Delhi, under the chairmanship of the prime minister, a memorandum on behalf of the I.N.A. was presented to the prime minister by the I.N.A. representatives. The memorandum referred to the fifteen thousand officers and men of the I.N.A. who had reached India from east Asia by the first quarter of 1946. Their arrears of pay and allowances since the fall of Singapore in February 1942 had been forfeited by the then British government of India. Since then about seven thousand of these officers and men had managed to find some employment or other. The remaining eight thousand officers and men were destitute and in a pitiable plight. If the absorption of the I.N.A. in independent India's army was still considered impracticable, then the memorandum urged that as a symbolic gesture, five thousand jawans might be reinstated, obviating any structural difficulties that might perhaps follow the reinstatement of senior and junior officers. If even this was considered impossible, then the I.N.A. might be employed in the border police, the armed police, the ordinary police, intelligence, the home guards or customs and excise. A melancholy but somewhat amusing sidelight on this conference was the presence of Colonel Gulzara Singh of the I.N.A. who was an ex-minister of the provisional government of Azad Hind, and one of the six trusted associates whom Netaji took with him upto Saigon on his last known flight and "adventure into the unknown". On reaching India, Colonel Gulzara Singh decided that he would only be a soldier in independent India also, and applied for a commission in the army de novo as a lieutenant. He joined as a lieutenant, and as a lieutenant in independent India's army, he attended the conference of the I.N.A. with the prime minister.
In April 1948, the government of independent India declared that no stigma should be attached to the members of the I.N.A.; certain monetary payments including lump-sum grants ranging from Rs 400 to 800 were made. In 1950, de novo commissions were provided for the re-employment of I.N.A. officers. Other ranks were permitted to join at the lowest rank. In 1961, the government declared the I.N.A. movement a national movement and its participants at par with other political sufferers.
In 1963, a financial relief of about Rs 30 lakhs was granted. But the most important demand contained in the appeal related to the arrears of pay and allowances forfeited by the British regime to penalise the LN.A. and deprive the freedom fighters of their hard-earned life-time's savings. The forfeited amount totaled to two crore rupees in 1946, and by 1967, with compound interest, it must have swelled to five crore rupees even by modest reckoning. As against the five crores, the government had disbursed only 68 lakh rupees. At long last, the agitation bore fruit after sixteen years of unrelenting efforts of a handful of I.N.A. officers in Delhi, the moving spirit behind them being Captain L.C. Talwar, the indefatigable general secretary. In a circular dated November 28, 1970, addressed to all LN.A. personnel, the Azad Hind Fauj Association conveyed the happy news that the Government of India had finally decided to settle the question of arrears of pay and allowances to the satisfaction of the I.N.A."
Patriots like M.Z Kiani, I.J Kiani, Shaukat Malik, Habibur Rahman did not have a place in independent India, they were forced to migrate to Pakistan since no opportunities were provided to them by the Nehru Government (source: Ami Subhas Bolchi, Shailesh De). No INA memorial was ever erected and INA chapter was erased from history text books. Historian Pratul Chandra Gupta was entrusted with writing an authentic history on INA, but his work, though completed, never saw the light of the day. It is alleged that Historian Dr. R.C Majumdar was asked by Nehru to write the history of the freedom movement of India but when he had truthfully depicted the role of INA vis a vis that of Congress's role, he was removed (source: https://medium.com/dharma-dispatch/how-jawaharlal-nehru-and-his-coterie-ruined-prof-r-c-majumdars-career-eba45077cfe3).
In 1949 a prohibitory order was issued by the Indian Army to not to use Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's photo in the Army canteens or in any other places in Army barracks, although Jai Hind was adopted as a means of greeting in Indian Army, giving acknowledgement to its growing popularity.
How Netaji and INA had helped in forming the Indian statehood - North East India
There are other accounts as to how Netaji's actions impacted subsequent Indian statehood formation, esp. in the North East. One of the early attempts of Subhas Chandra Bose was to ensure that Muslim League did not succeed in getting Assam out of India. It was Bose's effort that led to the formation of the Nationalistic Government in Assam under Gopinath Bordoloi and thereby Assam and North East could be saved from Pakistan. In 1937 when Muslim League Government had taken over the Assam province, they had a larger design or goal, to annex Assam with the future state of Pakistan that they were demanding. With that goal in sight they had flooded the Assam valleys with Muslim immigrants from the East Bengal, esp. from Mymensingh district. The Assam Congress had given a distress call. Subhas Chandra became president in 1938 and he listened to that SoS. He sent Maulana Azad to assess the situation, but Azad did nothing. Subhas Chandra made a tour of Assam Province, held talks with the warring factions of the Congress and resolved their issues. He ensured the Assam had an Assamese prime minister and nobody else other than Gopinath could hold that post. Subhas won over the tribals and enlisted their help and support for the cause of the Congress. He also got support from Nationalist Muslim leaders like Tayebullah. Muslim League ministry resigned in 1938. The British Governor, with the active connivance of the Muslim League, tried to delay the oath taking ceremony of Gopinath. Subhas accused him of being partisan. The Governor finally relented and Bordoloi government came into existence on 21st September. In later days Bordoloi however had opposed Netaji's collaboration with Japan.
Netaji and INA had close association with the Manipuris and the Nagas during their assault on the British forces. Without active help and support from the Meiteis of Manipur and the tribal Nagas and Kukis of the Naga hills, INA soldiers would have been in greater difficulties.
“Discovery of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: Delhi Chalo Last Camp in Nagaland” is a book written by Er Vekho Swuro of Nagaland. It states how Subhash Chandra Bose intruded into Nagaland particularly in Phek district and met the Naga public and displayed weapons at Ruzazho village. Villagers of the Naga hills had shown their solidarity by giving away their resources in the form of paddy, animals and other items necessary for their survival to INA. The villagers, by their timely intervention and quick thinking, helped the INA men escape from an advancing British army towards their camp at British Bungalow, Chesezu Village.
Communists and their portrayal of Netaji
The Communists had played a very negative role in the entire saga of INA and Netaji. Not only they had joined hand with the British to vilify Subhas chandra Bose and jeopardize his endeavours, but also they ensured that all activities of INA on Indian soil were thwarted. They carried out campaigns to paint Subhas Bose as the Quisling of India and even called him as Tojo's lapdog. Even after India got her independence and Netaji's contribution was made known to public, their attitude did not change much. They had given more importance to the fact that Germany waged war against Russia, and this was more important to them than National interests and considerations. This was in stark contrast to the Chinese Communists to whom National considerations mattered. Indian Communists were the real Quislings.
Some of the Communist artworks in vilifying Netaji is depicted below - courtesy Swarajya magazine.