‘ तुम मुझे खून दो मैं तुम्हे आज़ादी दूंगा !’ – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
‘You give me blood, and I will give you freedom.’
“….Today I demand of you one thing, above all. I demand of you blood. It is blood alone that can avenge the blood that the enemy has split. It is blood alone that can pay the price of freedom. Give me blood and I promise you freedom,” said Netaji Bose to the Indian National Army at a rally of Indians in Burma in 1944.
A year ago before he gave this inspiring speech, Netaji Bose announced the establishment of the Provisional Government of Free India or Azad Hind in Singapore. It was 21 October 1943. Its army was the Azad Hind Fauj. He allied with the Axis powers and his cause was funded by Imperial Japan monetarily, militarily and politically. It was recognized by 11 countries including Russia. Netaji was supported in this move by Nazi Germany, Empire of Japan, the Italian Social Republic, and their allies.
Many Indians donated for the cause. It mattered not which countries supported for Netaji’s cause. What mattered was Netaji’s aura in foreign lands, his persona, his determination, his spirit that led foreign nations lend their support for the freedom of India. ‘Chalo Dilli’ was the slogan that resounded amongst the INA soldiers when they marched towards the Northeast and defeated the British forces.
In this context, Maj Gen GD Bakshi wrote on his Facebook timeline, “Great news-Our Prime Minister will be laying the Foundation stone of the Netaji and INA museum on 21 Oct the 75th anniversary of the Establishment of the Azad Hind govt- The govt of Free India in exile that was recognised by 11 countries including Russia. It was established by Netaji in Singapore in 1943. Our efforts of years now seem to be bearing fruit at long last. We hope that at least after 70 years Netaji will get justice as also the poor soldiers of the INA who suffered so much to get our freedom and then were treated as traitors by an anglo-phile govt of quislings and collaborators.”
Rallies are being held in all state capitals starting from 14 Oct. Selected cadres will then come to Delhi for the Chalo Dilli mass rally on 21 Oct to demand the following:
1. Statue of Netaji to be installed on Rajpath/Red Fort.
2. History must be rectified to include main role of Netaji and the INA
3. Surviving INA soldiers must be brought on Republic Day parade on jeeps behind the PVCs.
4. Justice Mukherjee report must be placed again before our Parliament and accepted. What was ordered by the Vajpayee govt must be taken to its logical conclusion.
What not did Netaji face to organize a huge army – 60,000, comprising of both men and women? He embarked on death defying journeys across the treacherous mountains of Afghanistan, threatening waves of Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and tortuous jungles of Burma. He was pursued by assassins! And he managed to survive all odds and establish the Azad Hind Fauz. Indian expatriates in South Asia including local civilians, barristers, traders, plantation workers, shop keepers with many having military experience joined Netaji. All driven by a single motto – free India from the clutches of the British!
Chalo Dilli campaign is a tribute to Netaji and all of the 60,000 INA soldiers including 26,000 martyrs who laid down their lives for the freedom of our country. Do you know 15 year old Saraswathi Rajamani and four of her friends were so inspired by another of Netaji’s speech in Rangoon in 1942 wherein he urged the Indians to donate and join the INA that they that expressed their interest to join the INA?. Netaji Bose inducted all five into the Rani of Jhansi regiment of INA as covert spies. These five girls disguised themselves as boys and started working as errand boys at British military camps and officers’ houses. Their role was to smuggle secrets for the INA’s intelligence wing. Rajamani, whose father owned a gold mine in South India, donated all of her diamond and gold jewellery for the INA. Rajamani’s father had sold his gold mine and settled in Rangoon. He donated almost all of his riches for buying ammunition for the INA.
The son of an INA veteran says, “My father joined Netaji Bose’s INA from Singapore. He donated a huge amount for forming of INA. Due to this, after freedom, our family was under severe poverty, and my father could not send me to school. I was brought up illiterate. I have seen some of my father’s friends who were INA soldiers. They all perished in poverty and their families have vanished.”
These are only few examples of the brave sons and daughters of Bharat Mata who sacrificed everything and joined Netaji Bose’s INA. Unfortunately, neither Netaji Bose nor the 60,000 INA soldiers were recognized for their valor and sacrifice by the then Nehru government after independence. They aren’t recognized yet. Come, join the Chalo Dilli march to pressurize the govt. for their recognition and give shape to the aforementioned demands.
According to a Wikipedia account of battles and operations of the Indian National Army, ‘it was planned that, once Japanese forces had broken through British defences at Imphal, the INA would cross the hills of North-East India into the Gangetic plain, where it would work as a guerrilla army. This army was expected to live off the land, with captured British supplies, support, and personnel from the local population.’
With Japan’s support, the Provisional Government of Free India had nominal authority of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands including parts of Manipur and Nagaland. And Azad Hind declared war against the Anglo-American allied forces on the Indo-Burma Front. They charged against the British forces in the Imphal-Kohima sector. After defeating the British defences in Kohima, they advanced further towards Moirang. From here they had to retreat owing to compromised supply lines, withdrawal of Japanese forces, followed by defeat.
In between November 1945 and May 1946, the British held 10 court-martial trials of soldiers of the INA at Red Fort. Hence, it is also known as the Red Fort trials. A number of officers of the Azad Hind Fauz were considered guilty. Most of the soldiers who were tried were British prisoners of War who joined Netaji’s INA. The joint court-martial of Colonel Prem Sahgal, Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, and Major General Shah Nawaz Khan, who were officers in the British Indian Army and taken as prisoners of war, and who joined the INA, drew sympathy from Indian soldiers posted in the British Army. The British charged them for ‘waging war against the King-Emperor’. There was huge outcry and unrest amid the Indian troops. The outrage led the British reduce the charges against the guilty.
Clement Richard Attlee was the British Prime Minister from 1945 and 1951. It was he who signed off on the decision to grant Independence to India. And hence, India gained freedom on 15th August 1947. Clement Attlee visited India (Kolkata) in 1956. He stayed at the residence (Governor’s palace) of the then Governor of West Bengal and Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court – Justice PB Chakraborthy. Maj Gen GD Bakshi gives a detailed account of the conversation between Attlee and Chakraborthy in his book BOSE: AN INDIAN SAMURAI (A Military Assessment of Netaji and the INA). Atlee had told Chakraborthy that the British left India primarily because of Netaji’s INA and the mutinies it triggered.
Justice PB Chakraborthy wrote a letter to the publisher of RC Majumdar’s book, A History of Bengal. In this letter, the Chief Justice wrote, “When I was acting Governor, Lord Attlee, who had given us independence by withdrawing British rule from India, spent two days in the Governor’s palace at Calcutta during his tour of India. 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 some time ago and in 1947 no such new compelling situation had arisen that would necessitate a hasty British departure, why did they had 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 Navy personnel as a result of the military activities of Netaji. Toward 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!”
In the words of GD Bakshi, “A great deal of British archival material is now available that clearly proves that the British left primarily because of the outrage in India caused by the INA trials and the British fear that widespread revolts would start in the Indian armed forces. The most primary source was Lord Clement Attlee, the British PM who signed the independence of India Act in 1947. In 1956, he clearly said to Justice PB Chaktrabarthy that the British had left solely because of the INA of Netaji Bose and the role of Mahatma Gandhi in their decision to leave was minimal.”
As per the INA’s official history, the INA force had a total strength of 60,000. Of these, 26,000 were killed in action. They fought for the freedom of the country and sacrificed their lives in battle. The Nehru govt treated these men as traitors. There is no memorial for the 26,000 martyrs. The INA veterans were not taken back into the Army (on Mountbatten’s advice) and denied their war time pensions. This is unfortunate!
Only a handful of surviving INA veterans are left. Can’t the Govt. of India honor them and recognize their role in the Indian freedom struggle? In this context, Maj Gen GD Bakshi said, “Can we for GOD’s sake put our last surviving INA veterans on the Republic Day parade at Raj Path before they all die out. There are just a handful of them left.”
Unless the citizens of India, the sons and daughters of Bharat Mata, join the march for the cause of Netaji Bose, the event cannot be a success. Come, join us! Chalo Dilli!!
Written by – Manoshi Sinha.
Manoshi Sinha is a writer, poet, certified astrologer, avid traveler, and author of 7 books including ‘The Eighth Avatar’, and ‘Blue Vanquisher’ – Krishn Trilogy 1 and 2 that delve on Krishn beyond myths.