Relevance of Azad Hind Fauj in India’s freedom struggle
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TOPIC: General Studies 1
- Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present significant events, personalities, issues
- The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors or contributions from different parts of the country.
In News: Due to the 75th Year of Establishment of Azad Hind Government
The existence of the Azad Hind Government gave a greater legitimacy to the independence struggle against the British. Pertinently, the role of Azad Hind Fauj or the Indian National Army (INA) had been crucial in bequeathing a much needed impetus to India’s struggle for Independence.
Prelims oriented Details
Founded on: 21st October, 1943
Constituted in: The Provisional Government of Free India, or, more simply, Free India (Azad Hind), was an Indian provisional government established in occupied Singapore in 1943 and supported by the Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and their allies.
Known as Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind, it was supported by the Axis powers of Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, the Italian Social Republic, and their allies.
Events leading to the formation of the Fauj:
An important development in the struggle for freedom during the Second World War was the formation and activities of the Azad Hind Fauj, also known as the Indian National Army, or INA.
- Rash Behari Bose (supreme advisor), an Indian revolutionary who had escaped from India and had been living in Japan for many years, set up the Indian independence league with the support of Indians living in the countries of south-east Asia.
- When Japan defeated the British armies and occupied almost all the countries of south-East Asia, the league formed the Indian National Army from among the Indian prisoners of war with the aim of liberating India from the British rule.
This first INA collapsed and was disbanded in December that year after differences between the INA leadership (Mohan Singh) and the Japanese military over its role in Japan’s war in Asia. It was revived under the leadership of Subhash Chandra Bose after his arrival in Southeast Asia in 1943.
Role of Subhas Chandra Bose
- Leader of Azad Hind Government
- Head of State of this Provisional Indian Government-in-exile
Bose was convinced that armed struggle was the only way to achieve independence for India. He had been a leader of the radical wing of the Indian National Congress in the late 1920s and 1930s, rising to become Congress president in 1938 and 1939 but was ousted following differences with Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress leadership.
- Subhas Chandra Bose had escaped from India in 1941 and gone to Germany to work for India’s Independence. In 1943, he came to Singapore to lead the Indian Independence league and rebuild the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) to make it an effective instrument for the freedom of India.
- Netaji went to the Andaman which had been occupied by the Japanese and hoisted there the flag of India. In early 1944, three units of the Azad Hind Fauj (INA) took part in the attack on the north-eastern parts of India to oust the British from India.
- The Azad Hind Fauj, with the slogan of ‘Delhi Chalo’ and the salutation Jai Hind was a source of inspiration to Indians, inside and outside the country. Netaji rallied together the Indians of all religions and regions, living in south-east Asia, for the cause of India’s freedom.
- A women’s regiment of Azad Hind Fauj was formed, which was under the command of Captain Lakshmi Swaminathan. It was called the Rani Jhansi regiment. The Azad Hind Fauj became the symbol of unity and heroism to the people of India.
Bose’s death was seen as the end to the Azad Hind movement. The Second World War, also ended in 1945 with the defeat of the Axis powers.
“Let your battle cry be, ‘To Delhi! To Delhi! How many of us will individually survive this war of freedom, I do not know,” Bose told them. “But I do know this…our task will not end until our surviving heroes hold the victory parade on another graveyard of the British Empire – Lal Qila – of ancient India.”
Last nail in the coffin of the British Empire
A joint court-martial of hundreds of captured INA soldiers, led by Colonel Prem Sehgal, Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, Major General Shah Nawaz Khan, was held during 1945- 46 at the Red Fort.
Leaders of independence movement Jawaharlal Nehru, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Kailashnath Katju, Bhulabhai Desai, Asaf Ali, along with Muslim league defended the comrades of Bose despite difference of ideology.
However, none of the INA soldiers were later inducted in regular army of India.
The famous INA trial sparked off massive unrest across the country, including the strike by the ratings (sailors) and officers of the Royal Indian Navy and Air Force — from the ports of Mumbai and Karachi to Madras, Vishakhapatnam and Calcutta in February 1946. The airmen too stuck work at various places including Karachi and Kalaikunda (now in West Bengal).
Connecting the Dots:
- Even in its defeat, the INA had been successful in ringing the death knell of Colonialism. Comment.