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Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

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Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Indian Independence By Dr.

Narasinha Kamath


August 15th 2007, marks 60th Anniversary of Independence of India. Scores of patriots sacrificed to achieve Independence. So 60th Anniversary of Independence is an extremely joyous occasion for all the Indians across the globe. If you look at Indian Freedom History after Mahatma Gandhi, the name that stands out is of Subhas Chandra Bose or Netaji. Netaji is really one of the most influential and charismatic personalities of India. Netaji sacrificed everything for the sake of our beloved India. Finally, he even gave his life for the sake of our country. Though Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru have garnered much of the credit for successful culmination of Indian freedom struggle, the contribution of Subash Chandra Bose, a man with a burning desire to excel, is no less. He has been denied his rightful place in the annals of Indian history. Subhas Chandra Bose was born on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack, Orissa. His father Janaki Nath Bose was a very famous lawyer and his mother Prabhavati Devi was a religious and pious lady. Subhas Chandra Bose was the ninth child among fourteen siblings. Subhas Chandra Bose was a brilliant student right from the childhood. He topped the matriculation examination of Calcutta province and graduated with a First Class in Philosophy from the Scottish Churches College in Calcutta. He was strongly influenced by Swami Vivekananda's teachings. In early years, he left the most lucrative post of ICS (Indian Civil Service) for entering into Freedom Struggle. Millions of Indians regard him as one of the Greatest Heroes of India’s Struggle for Independence. He deferred completely with Mahatma Gandhi on method to achieve freedom from British colonial rule. Mahatma Gandhi as we all know followed non-violence method all along to achieve freedom whereas Netaji believed that British can be driven out of India only through

armed struggle. Mahatma and Netaji both had highest regards for each other although their path was diametrically opposite. Ultimately, we did achieve Independence through nonviolence led by Mahatma Gandhi. But this does not mean that we should ignore the sacrifices made by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, his Indian National Army during World War II and many other Freedom Fighters. It is important to understand first the concept of freedom as envisaged by Netaji - the ideal which motivated him to wrest it from the hands of the British by the force of arms. In his entire political career, Subhas Chandra Bose was guided by two cardinal principles in his search for his country's emancipation: that there could be no compromise with alien colonialists on this issue, and that on no account would the country be partitioned. The Indian geographical unity was to be maintained at all costs.

Gandhiji and Netaji With blessings from Gandhi Ji, in 1938, Netaji was elected President of All India Congress and again in 1939 Netaji got elected with majority votes as President of Congress once again against the wishes of Gandhi Ji. Gandhi Ji opposed his election vehemently because of differences in their strategies to gain Independence and finally within few months Netaji had to resign from the post of President of Congress. In January 1941, Netaji escaped British house arrest in India and arrived in Germany when World War II was at peak. He met Hitler, who gave him his unconditional approval for the establishment of a FreeIndiaCenter and inauguration of a Free India Radio, both beginning their operations in November 1941. These two organizations played vital and significant roles in projecting Bose's increasing activities in Germany, but a detailed account of their operation lies outside the scope of this article. It should be sufficient to say that the German government put at Bose's disposal adequate funds to run these two organizations, and he was allowed complete freedom to run them the way he liked at his own discretion. For the first time India’s tri-color was unfurled on German soil. With few Indian soldiers who were POW’s (under German Army) Netaji formed Azad Hind Fauz (Indian National army) which was just the beginning of what was to happen in Singapore after 2 years. Somehow, Netaji felt that it was very difficult to organize any resistance to British from German soil as it was far away from India. He decided to go to Japan with his dream to form a massive force consisting of Indian POW’s in Japanese custody which numbered close to 60,000 which happened after the fall of Singapore. With German help, Netaji took a perilous U2 submarine voyage from German waters and arrived in south-east Asia in July1943 after few weeks of travel under water along with his aide Abid Hassan. Japan was already waiting for the arrival of Great Leader Netaji. With the Japanese help, all 60,000 Indian soldiers were released and were allowed to join Netaji’s newly formed Azad Hind Fauz or Indian National Army (INA). Netaji held meetings with batches of POW’s and exhorted the soldiers to join INA. Finally, Netaji was successful to sway the loyalty of Indian soldiers to his cause. Because of his past background where he had won the election for Congress Presidency against the wishes of Mahatma Gandhi, his meeting with Hitler, and his U2 submarine voyage from Europe to Southeast Asia, he was held in awe by Indians living in Southeast Asia.

Millions of dollars and jewelry poured into Azad Hind Fund which was heavily contributed by Indians living in Southeast Asia. January 23rd (Netaji’s Birthday) became a special day to collect contributions for Azad Hind Fund. Netaji’s War of Independence brought back nostalgic memories of First War of Independence in 1857. Netaji's war was one of the biggest event of the hisory of our freedom fight.1857. On Oct. 21st 1943, Netaji formally announced from Singapore formation of Azad Hind Fauz (INA) and Azad Hind Government. This is one of the most significant moments in the history of India’s struggle for Independence. This was also the most significant day in Netaji's life as he saw thousands of INA solidiers who took oath to shed blood so as to free Mother India from the shackles of British slavery. 4 divisions (Gandhi Brigade, Subhas Brigade, Nehru Brigade etc.) were formed which consisted of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. Thus, INA represented symbol of National Unity. It was truly a secular army of Government of India in exile under the Commander-in-chief Netaji who was also the Prime Minister of Government of India in exile. Women’s brigade Jhansi Ki Rani Brigade was also formed under Captain Lakshmi Sehgal. Lots of Tamilians living in Malaya also joined INA to fight against British. Netaji’s most famous slogans during the war were “Chalo Delhi” and “Give me your blood and I will give you your freedom”. These 2 slogans inspired Indians all across the globe. “Jana Gana Mana” became the National Anthem and Hindi was the official language. The flag consisted of same Tri-Color as adopted by Congress except that in the Center of the flag Netaji replaced Spinning Wheel with a picture of a springing Tiger which was in line with his own courageous nature. Slogan “Jai Hind” came into existence after Netaji decided to use at end of every meeting. Now very few Indians know that the slogan “Jai Hind” originated from Netaji. We all know that JaiHind is a salutation most commonly used in India in speeches and communications pertaining to or referring to patriotism towards India. And whenever Indians say Jai Hind they automatically salute India and Netaji who coined that slogan. In 1947, Govt of India officially adoped Jai Hind as the National Slogan of India. Thus once an INA slogan, now became the National Slogan of Free India.

JAI HIND Netaji thought that once the INA reached Indian soil, the British Indian Army loyal to British will turn against British and join INA and thus the British rule will collapse. During World War II, Netaji saw complicated international politics happening right in front of his eyes. Netaji basically was not a military man, however, at times, he stunned Japanese commanders by recommending them his suggestions on certain military tactics. INA took part in their assault at Imphal in Assam. They also captured few square miles of Indian territory and in Moirang the Indian Tri-Color was unfurled on 14th April 1944 with great fanfare. This was the Greatest moment for INA and Netaji to have reached inside their motherland. But later due to heavy monsoon and lack of Air Force Cover and lack of military supplies, finally INA had to retreat along with Japanese Army and hundreds of INA soldiers died during the retreat. At this point, it was very difficult to imagine the state of mind of

Netaji. However Netaji would never give up. He had plans to re-group again and continue the assault. On August 6th 1945, USA dropped atomic bomb on Hiroshima and 3 days later another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki killing thousands of Japanese. Japan had no way out of this disaster, finally surrendered to allied forces on August 15 th, 1945. On August 18th, 1945, Netaji’s plane took off Taihoku (Taipei) in the afternoon supposedly heading towards Tokyo but no one knows exactly what happened after this flight. Netaji was only 48 years of age at this point. Had Netaji returned to India after 1947, under his leadership we would have seen a different India, a fast progressing India. Many historians believe that had Netaji lived after the war, he would have greatly complicated post-war negotiations. However, I do not know how Netaji would have avoided partition of India. On August 23rd ,1945 (8 Days after alleged crash), Japan declared that Netaji died in plane crash at Taihoku (now Taipei) on August 18 th, 1945. But recently CIA and also The Government of Taiwan declared that no such plane crash took place on August 18 th, 1945. This means that Japanese used a cover or subterfuge for Netaji’s escape to most likely Soviet Union as Netaji had already planned to take help from Russians while Japanese were planning for their surrender to Allied forces. All of above paragraph has been confirmed by Justice Mukherjee commission in their final report on Netaji’s mysterious disappearance. The report was submitted to Govt. of India in 2005 for the debate in parliament. Govt of India sat on it for 6 months and then one fine morning Justice Mukherjee’s report was rejected by the Government in few minutes without holding any debate in the parliament. It took many years for Justice Mukherjee to come up with the report. Indian Govt. maintained their earlier stand that Netaji did die on August 18th 1945 in that Taihoku plane crash based on 2 earlier commissions by Shahnawaz and Khosla which runs contrary to the recent confirmation by Govt of Taiwan that no plane crash took place on August 18th, 1945 at Taihoku Airport. Since now it is confirmed that no plane crash took place on August 18th, 1945, it is almost certain that Netaji must have escaped to Soviet Union. And if this is true then this must have been the most brilliantly executed secret plan by Japanese during World War II. It is possible that after reaching Soviet Union, Netaji may have been arrested by Soviets and was sent to Siberian Jail and he may have died in Siberian Jails. But no one can confirm this due to lack of access to Soviet archives on Netaji. Gove of India never helped Justice Mukherjee commission to gain full access to Soviet archives so as to get to the bottom of the truth. Had the request to Soviet Union come from the Prime Minister of India while Justice Mukherjee was conducting his investigation in Soviet Union, Soviet Union would have yielded to the request and it was possible to get to the bottom of the truth. Now it seems Netaji’s end will remain a mystery forever. In fact, right after India became Independent, the first and the foremost thing the Govt of India should have undertaken was to hold a thorough investigation into the disappearance of Netaji and find out the truth. At that time many witnesses would have come forward to solve the mystery. Now it seems that it is too late as the most of the witnesses are dead. However, every Indian has a right to know what exactly happended to Netaji. And it is the responsibilty and duty of Govt of India to come up with the truth regarding this matter. Older generation Indians now living in south east Asia who saw Netaji in action during his INA activities during 1943-1945 in Singapore, when interviewed few years back, all of them said that the period 1943-1945 was the happiest period in their lives as they had found a worthwhile cause to sacrifice for their motherlland India. Mukherjee commission’s basic findings on Netaji were as follows (As per Premendra Agrawal’s Sulekha Article):

Mukherjee Commission submitted its report on November 8, 2005. The government sat on it for six months, then tabled it in Parliament on May 17, 2006, when it also rejected the report. Why such late in tabling the report? Basically, the commission’s findings are the following: (1). Netaji did not die in the August 1945 Taipei plane crash as reported. (2) The ashes at Tokyo’s Renkoji temple are not his. (3) The story of the crash was a trick to help him escape, and the Japanese and Taiwanese governments knew about it. (4) The Indian government suppressed a report by the Taiwanese government which stated this in 1956. (5) Netaji is now dead. Netaji may not have been successful in winning Freedom for India. However, the very formation of INA by Netaji shook the confidence of British regarding loyalty of British Indian soldiers in the British Army on whom British Rule depended in India. Formation of INA created grave doubts in the minds of British regarding the loyalty of British Indian troops in India.. This sentiment was echoed in 1946 when there was mutiny by British Indian Navy in Mumbai in 1946 when they revolted against British. This was enough for British to sound an alarm that they can no longer hold together British Indian Army and navy to rule India. Despite Japan's defeat and the consequent withering away of the Indian National Army on the India-Burma front, both Subhas Chandra Bose and his INA became household names throughout India. INA implanted the spark of patriotism in the hearts of Indian people. It is very sad that the Government of India after 1947, tried to erase memory of Netaji. It took 32 years (since 1947) to unveil Netaji’s portrait in Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi in 1979 (thanks to Janata Govt under Prime Minister Morarji Desai). And it took 50 years to install Netaji's life size statue outside the parliament building. This was ultimately installed by Govt of India on January 23rd, 1997 on the occasion of Netaji's Birth Anniversary. And after tremendous pressure from the public, finally Govt declared with hesitation, 23rd January 1997 as a National Holiday. And the announcement came very late that too just 3 days before January 23rd, 1997. Many of the classified documents maintained in Indian archives were destroyed in 1960’s. Many requests from public organizations asking Govt to declassify Netaji Files were futile as Govt. always said that it is not in the interest of the country to make them public. It is very difficult to understand what they mean by this. After independence, Govt of India did not recognize the INA soldiers as Freedom Fighters for a long time. Only in late 1960’s they were accorded the status as a freedom fighter. After Independence, Govt of India refused to take back INA soldiers into Indian Army of Free India. Reason given by the Govt of India was that when INA soldiers joined INA, they violated the military descipline by breaking the oath that they took for loyalty to British crown at the time when they had joined British Indian Army. Ultimately, due to lack of financial support, s ubsequently many INA soldiers died in abject poverty after 1947. Gandhi Ji and Netaji had a Great affection towards each other. In 1946, at a public speech in Delhi, Gandhi Ji called Netaji “The Patriot of Patriots”. Gandhi Ji also said that patriotism of Netaji and his sacrifices to the country were second to none. And earlier in 1944, Netaji in a Radio Speech from Singapore had referred to Mahatma Ji as our “Father of the Nation”. I was very glad to see that Great Director Shyam Benegal with help of Sahara TV, directed Rs. 21 crore movie on Netaji "Netaji : The Forgotten Hero". I saw it and liked it. I am glad that a movie is now documented on Netaji which future generations can always watch. I was

surprised that this movie on Netaji did not do well at box office across India which is very puzzling. Today, I read in the newspaper that Orissa Govt has finally turned the house “Janakinath Bhavan” in Cuttack where Netaji was born and spent his childhood days into a National Monument and Museum and is now open for public viewing from today. This project was neglected for many decades by the Govt. I am happy to see that now museum has become a reality. This time, Govt of India contributed Rs. 1.5 crores towards its restoration. Recently, on August 23rd, 2007, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Netaji Bhavan and Museum in Calcutta and paid Great Tributes to Netaji. He also said that Netaji is a highly respected personality in Japan. I am not so sure if Mr. Shinzo Abe was the first Prime Minister of Japan to visit Netaji Bhavan and Museum in Calcutta. When historian Dr. Mazumdar spoke to the then British Prime Minister Lord Atlee on Britain’s decision to grant Independence to India, Lord Atlee said the following: “In his reply Atlee cited among several reasons, the principal among them being the erosion of loyalty to the British Crown among the Indian army and navy personnel as a result of the military activities of Netaji”. Let us all salute Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on this occasion of India's 60th Independence Day. JAI HIND!!!! Purpose of this article is also to revive the memory of Netaji on the occasion of 60th Independence day of India. As per late Ranjan Borra’s (a staunch follower of Netaji) Article on Netaji which states: “When the new version of the history of the 20th Century India, especially the episode of country’s unique struggle for independence comes to be written, it will no doubt single out but one person who made the most significant and outstanding contribution among all his compatriots towards the emancipation of his motherland from the shackles of an alien bondage. During World War II, this man strode across two continents like a colossus, and the footsteps of his army of liberation reverberated through the forests and plains of Europe and the jungles and the mountains of Asia. His armed assaults shook the very foundations of the British Empire. His name is Subhas Chandra Bose.”

© Dr. Narasinha Kamath., all rights reserved.

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