You often read the names of Azad Hind Fauj and Subhash Chandra Boss in the history of the Indian independence movement. The Azad Hind Fauj fought directly with the British government for the independence of India during the Second World War. Although there was the help of the Japanese government behind him and as soon as Japan surrendered, the Azad Hind Fauj also withdrew. But the Azad Hind Fauj had made the British government realize that now India could not be kept slaves for long, finally India got independence on 15 August 1947. Today in this blog we will evaluate the contribution of Azad Hind Fauj to freedom.
Subhash Chandra Bose
Subhash Chandra Bose was a prominent Indian nationalist leader who was born on January 23, 1897, in Cuttack, Odisha, India. He is also known as Netaji, which means “Respected Leader” in Hindi.
Bose was deeply influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi. He played a key role in the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule, advocating for complete freedom from British rule.
Bose organized the Indian National Army (INA) in 1942, with the support of the Japanese, to fight against British forces in India. He also traveled extensively throughout Asia and Europe seeking support for the Indian independence movement.
Bose died on August 18, 1945, under controversial circumstances, in a plane crash in Taipei, Taiwan. His death has remained the subject of speculation and conspiracy theories.
Today, Bose is remembered as a great leader and patriot who fought for the independence of India. His contributions to the freedom struggle have inspired generations of Indians to continue working toward the betterment of the country.
Background of Azad Hind Fauj
After the failure of the Quit India Movement of 1942, the political activities in the country had become sluggish till the end of World War II in 1945. All the popular leaders associated with the freedom movement were in jail and the situation was not such in which a new leadership could emerge. There was a feeling of discontent and sadness in the Indian public, but the fire of the movement was burning inside. The Indian independence movement came to a standstill due to the prolongation of the Second World War.
The same opportunity came again during the Second World War. The leader of this type of movement at this time was Subhash Chandra Bosh. They had resolved to take advantage of the Second World War in the interest of India.
Mr. Mazumdar has written in this regard that “While the Cripps Mission was talking in vain in India with the Congress leaders, Subhas Chandra Bose was having a different type of conversation with Germany and Italy, which had a greater hand in shaping India’s destiny. As a result of their activities, Azad Hind Fauj was formed and thus a new turn came in the freedom movement.
When World War I was looming in Europe, Mr. Bose wanted to take advantage of the time, and by taking the war between Britain and Germany, by striking a blow, India wanted to get freedom. He believed in the old Irish saying, ‘England’s need is Ireland’s opportunity’. Therefore, he wanted to bring Gandhi Congress leaders on his policy that for the independence of India, the help of the enemies of England should be taken.
But due to Gandhi’s non-violence – perhaps because of the feeling of not leaving his side in the days of England – Subhash Chandra Bose did not get Gandhiji’s support, although the Second World War had started. Subhas Chandra Bose was elected President twice in the Congress movement, but there was a fundamental difference of opinion between him and Gandhi on the question of non-violence. Eventually, Bose left Congress and founded the Forward Bloc.
The arrest and detention of Subhash Chandra Bose
The British government saw a dangerous revolutionary in Subhas Chandra Bose, and thus arrested Subhas Chandra Bose in July under the 1940 India Security Act and imprisoned him in the Presidency Jail in Calcutta. He was facing two cases even while under house arrest. On 19 November 1940, Subhash Chandra Bose started a hunger strike, due to which his health started deteriorating, due to which the government was compelled to release him from jail on 5 December 1940. After his release, he started living quietly in his house on Elgin Road in Calcutta. There was a police guard outside the house.
On the night of 17 January 1941, he left his house at about 1.15 pm and reached Peshawar by train. He reached Nadhi, leaving the Ladi Kotal beside Jamrud, where he did it on foot on the Indian border. They reached Kabul by motor. From there he went to Russia with an Italian passport. Subhash Chandra Boss went to Russia to seek help for India’s independence. Meanwhile, Germany invaded Russia and Russia joined the Allies. Subhas Chandra Bose went from Russia to Germany with the intention that perhaps he could get help from there.
He flew from Moscow to Berlin on 28 March 1941. There he was welcomed by the Hitler hand Robben Trapp. Subhas Bose proposed that (1) he would do British propaganda through Berlin radio. (2) By choosing people from among Indian prisoners of war in Germany, Azad Hind Fauj will be formed and three major nations Germany, Italy, and Japan will make a joint declaration of Indian independence. The first two proposals of Subhas Bose were accepted, but the third was not agreed upon. Here in Germany itself, the word ‘Netaji’ was added to his name. Subhash Chandra established the Free India Center in Paris, Rome.
Bose also organized Indian prisoners of war in Germany. He gave speeches in many meetings of prisoners of war and requested them to join his ‘India National Army’ in the name of country, freedom, and truth. The popularity and power of this army which was known as Azad Hind Fauj increased. Sardar Ajit Singh, an old friend of Lala Lajpat Rai and uncle of Sardar Bhagat Singh, came to Italy to meet Subhash Chandra Bose. There he was a Professor of Languages at the University of Naples. After consulting his friends, Subhash Chandra adopted the slogan ‘Jaihind’ at the same time, but here Indian prisoners of war did not get much success.
Meanwhile, Japan achieved great success in the East. He captured Singapore on 15 January 1942. Thousands of Indian soldiers were made prisoners of war. As a result, the region of East Asia became more important for Subhas Chandra Bose. On some assurance from Germany, he went to Japan so that with his help, he could organize India’s liberation war.
Rash Behari Bose tried to set up the Indian Independence League in the region of Japan. Shri Rash Behari Bose was a nationalist revolutionary who had gone to Japan from India to avoid arrest during the First World War and married there and became a citizen of Japan. On the initiative of Rash Behari Bose, a conference was called in Tokyo on 28-30 March to discuss political questions. In this conference, a resolution was passed to organize the Indian Army under the leadership of Indian officers. The purpose of this army was told to fight for the liberation of India. The establishment of the ‘India Independence League’ in Japan Occupied Japan was established for the Diaspora and in June 1942 it was decided to hold a full representative conference of overseas Indians from Bangkok.
The Bangkok Convention took place on 23 June 1942. About a hundred delegates from Burma, Malaya, Thailand, Indochina, Philippines, Japan, China, Borneo, Java, Sumatra, Hong Kong, and Andaman participated in it. Rash Behari Bose was its president. He founded the Indian Independence League and decided to invite Subhas Chandra Bose to East Asia.
Representatives of Indian soldiers also participated in the Bangkok conference. Captain Mohan Singh of the 1st Battalion escaped with some officers and soldiers when the Japanese invaded northern Malaya and defeated the British forces in December 1941. In the end, finding no way out, he surrendered to the Japanese. On the persuasion of a Sikh monk Giani Pritam Singh and a Japanese officer Major Fujihara, Mohan Singh agreed to fight with the Japanese for the independence of India.
Fall of Singapore
At the fall of Singapore on February 15, 1942, 40,000 Indian soldiers were taken prisoner of war. Fujihara handed them over to Mohan Singh. With regard to these prisoners of war, Mohan Singh strengthened the Azad Hind Fauj under the name Indian National Army (Indian National Army).
Role of Rash Behari Bose and First Azad Hind Fauj
By the Bangkok Convention, 25000 Indian soldiers had been recruited into the army. By August 1942, the number of soldiers in the Azad Hind Army was around 40000. Many Indian youths from South East Asia joined this army to fight for the independence of India. Camps were opened to train them all.
- Bangkok convention passed the following resolution to create Azad Hind Fauj—-
- Indian National Army should be formed with Indian soldiers and Indian citizens from East Asia.
- Captain Mohan Singh will be the commander of this liberation army of this India.
- The ‘India Independence League’ will arrange the necessary money, people, and goods for the Azad Hind Fauj.
- All the officers of Azad Hind Fauj will be Indians and will fight only for the liberation of India.
- A war council should be formed to carry out the freedom struggle and to carry out all the necessary work related to the freedom movement.
- At the Bangkok conference, it was decided to form a council with 4 members in addition to the president.
- Rash Behari Bose was made its president and Captain Mohan Singh was one of its members.
On 6 August 1942, in his broadcast from Bangkok Radio, Rash Behari Bose appealed to the Indian people to drive the British out of India. In another speech, he said, “Avenge the blood of Indian martyrs. Use your sword to liberate your motherland. Rise up against the Anglo-American enemy across India.”
The meeting held in Singapore the following month was attended by more than 45,000 Indian POWs, of whom 20000 voluntarily expressed their willingness to join the Azad Hind Fauj — most of them Punjabis. It is astonishing how these prisoners of war so quickly accepted the call to form the Azad Hind Fauj. Some of them were really filled with the spirit of patriotism, and there were many who saw this as the only way to escape the abuse and torture of the Japanese prison. But soon after joining the Azad Hind Fauj, the color of patriotism was completely overshadowed by many of them.
During the training, the English words of command were replaced by Hindi words. Caste and religious discrimination vanished overnight, as they all sat together and ate food prepared from the same kitchen. A guerrilla army of about 20,000 soldiers was prepared to take action from the jungles of Assam and Bengal. Although instead of trying to compete directly with the British army, the purpose of this army was to awaken nationalism among the Indians.
Azad Hind Fauj had to face many difficulties from the very beginning. Indian officers and soldiers considered the attempt by the Japanese to use them to follow their policy and war policy as bad. No attention was paid to their demands that India’s independence be declared and Indian soldiers be forced to wear Japanese uniforms. Niranjan Singh and Captain Mohan Singh, who had led this outrage, were arrested by the Japanese intelligence police in December 1942. Rash Behari Bose, who had been living in Japan since 1915, was now old, and could not exert his pressure to get the legitimate demands of the Indians. As a result of the arrest of Captain Mohan Singh, the first Azad Hind Fauj became cannabis.
This happened because “Indian officers and soldiers were ready to die fighting for their country, but they refused to be puppets. The Japanese never forgave them for their actions and many of them were severely persecuted.” “Niranjan Singh, Mohan Singh, and many other Indians suffered horrific experiences in Japanese prison cells”. But he refused to surrender to serve the Japanese interests. Due to the sufferings, he had put in, the desired results came to fruition. One of their demands was that Subhash Chandra Bose should be called to establish the Azad Hind Fauj in South-East Asia.
As an attempt to rectify the situation, Ras convened another conference in April 1943, but in this, he did not succeed. As a result, Subhas Bose was brought from Singapore to take over the supreme command of the Azad Hind Fauj.
Subhash Chandra Bose and Azad Hind Fauj
Malaya and Burma were evacuated by Britain leaving Indian officers and soldiers. Japan meanwhile tried to organize these soldiers and the Azad Hind Fauj, which has been described earlier. In Malaya alone, 60,000 offshoots and soldiers were taken prisoner. Indian citizens who had been living in the countries of South-East Asia were also wandering, unable to return to the country.
Subhas Chandra Bose reached Singapore on 2 July 1943. He took the leadership of this army into his own hands. There was a wave of happiness among the diaspora. He felt that his fortune-teller had arrived. On July 4, Rash Behari Bose handed over the reins of East Asia to Subhas Chandra Bose. Suhas Chandra Bose was made the President of ‘The India Independence League’. He was addressed as ‘Leader’, as in Germany the supreme leader is called ‘Fürer’, and in Italy as ‘Deuce’.
The other world listened to the creation of the Azad Hind Fauj. Subhas Chandra Bose speaking from Azad Hind Radio and was planning a formation.
“For a year I have been waiting for the time with silence and patience. The time has come for me to speak.”
Under the influence of the dynamic, inspiring, and attractive personality of Subhas Bose, the Azad Hind Fauj got a new purpose and goal. There was a new spirit in it. “Chalo to Delhi”, and “Journey to the Red Fort of Delhi”, became new slogans. Subhash Chandra Bose said in a radio broadcast while addressing the countrymen:
“Do not forget that the greatest curse for man is to be a slave. Do not forget that the greatest crime is to compromise with injustice and abuse. Remember this unshakable rule that to gain something, you have to lose something. And remember That the greatest virtue is to fight the fight against inequality, no matter what the cost.
Everything in this mortal world will perish, but ideals and dreams never die, a person may die for an idea, but after his death, that thought will manifest itself in a hundred and fifty forms”.
Subhas Chandra Bose announced the formation of an independent provisional government in Singapore and went to India with the Azad Hind Fauj. Declaration of reconstruction of Azad Hind Fauj was made all over the world.
The declaration was as follows: – “It will be the duty of the Provisional Government to drive out the British people and their friends from the land of India. Taking the confidence of the Indian people, it will be the second duty to form a permanent government according to their wishes.”
“Until the British people are driven out of the land of India until a permanent government of Azad Hind is established, it will be the duty of this provisional government to work for the faith of the Indian people. In the name of God, we Appeal to the Indian people that we stand under one flag and laden for the freedom of India”.
Netaji himself inspected the entire Azad Hind Fauj and called upon all Indians to assemble. The independent leadership was handled by Netaji himself. Order and education were done in the Hindustani language. The recruits were recruited into the Azad Hind Fauj by giving 6 months of tanning. The National Anthem of Azad Hind Fauj was a poem by Tagore. The tricolor flag of Congress was their flag. The names of the three brigades were – Subhash Brigade, Gandhi Brigade, and Nehru Brigade.
Campaign of Conquest of India
The Japanese government conquered the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and handed over their rule to this provisional government. Subhas Bose went there in December 1943 and there he unfurled the tricolor flag. In Rangoon, the capital of the Provisional Government became the command of the Azad Hind Fauj.
On 4 February 1944, Subhash Brigade moved from Rangoon to the hills of Arakan. The Azad Hind Fauj fought against the British in Burma and badly defeated a contingent of British forces on the Arakan front. After winning the Arakan front, the Azad Hind Fauj moved forward and entered the border of India.
Kohima was captured with the help of Japan and the Azad Hind Fauj hoisted the tricolor flag of India on Naga Hill. The Azad Hind Fauj, full of enthusiasm, soon surrounded Imphal. The date of the attack on Imphal was fixed as 7 April 1944. Imphal victory was estimated in three weeks, but the situation changed when heavy rains started, on the other hand, the situation of World War II also started changing.
The enthusiastic soldiers and officers of the Azad Hind Fauj were filled with the spirit of patriotism and were eager to enter India. But soon the situation of World War II started changing, Japan was defeated in many places in East Asia. The defeat of Japan ruined the plans of the Azad Hind Fauj. Netaji Bose died when an airplane crashed while en route to Tokyo. The world usually did not believe this incident.
Azad Hind Fauj sued
The British government prosecuted some officers of Azad Hind, Sardar Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, Mr. Prem Sehgal, and Mr. Shahnabaz for sedition. All the political parties including Congress raised their voice to free these soldiers. Congress formed the ‘Azad Hind Fauj Rescue Committee’ under the leadership of eminent lawyers like Bhula Bhai Desai, Shri Tej Bahadur Sapru, and Asaf Ali.
Jawahar Lal 30 years later, wearing a lawyer’s cloak, Mr. Jinnah also wore a robe. Ignoring the military arguments of these lawyers, the three officers were sentenced to death. But seeing the sympathy and support for the country, the Governor General waived the sentence of all three. The trial was conducted in the Red Fort.
Thus the movement of Azad Hind Fauj despite some of its shortcomings is a wonderful chapter in the saga of India’s independence movement.
Reflecting the influence of Azad Hind Fauj, Rajni Palm Dutt has written in his book “Aaj Ka Bharat” that “patriotism was being infused among Indian soldiers and British soldiers were returning after the Second
World War after losing the British Empire. The British government realized that if an attempt was made to repress India, then the Indian soldiers would revolt by not supporting them.
‘Delhi Chalo’, the slogan ‘National Anthem’ became popular, and ‘Jai Hind’, which was the salutation method of Azad Hind Fauj, has become the slogan of the whole country today.