Written By Darshan M (Grade 10)
In 1956 when former British Prime Minister Clement Atlee visited India the then-governor of Bengal asked him one important question. He asked why after the Quit India movement subsided in 1942 there were no significant freedom movements in India despite having an opportunity to rule India why did the British leave, to which Clement Atlee said that the role played by Netaji’s army was paramount in India being granted independence while the role played by the non-violent movements were dismissed.
This one statement is enough to question the version of history taught in our school textbooks as much as we are taught about legends like Mahatma Gandhi and the significant contribution of the Satyagraha movement we are knowingly or unknowingly not taught about the significant sacrifices made by Netaji and his Azad Hind Forge. An important chapter of Indian history that has been erased from our history textbooks or perhaps not taught well enough.
Who was Netaji Subash Chanda Bose? What was this legend’s contribution towards the independence struggle of our nation? And most importantly how did his contribution give us freedom from the shackles of the British?
After clearing his civil service exams, Netaji Subash Chanda Bose rejected the job offer that made his way to London. He returned to India and joined Gandhiji and his team to fight for Independence and marking the beginning of Netaji’s freedom struggle within just a few months because of his brilliant political acumen he began climbing the ladders of Congress more quickly than anyone else he became so popular that in the presidential election of the Congress, he ended up defeating Dr. Pattabhi who was backed by Gandhiji himself.
As we all know Netaji and Gandhiji had different ideologies, Gandhiji was all about seeking independence through non-violent struggle whereas Netaji believed that independence is not something that you request it’s something you fight and snatch from the rulers, and this was something that both never came to terms with. As time passed Netaji released that he cannot drive the people of Congress against Gandhiji’s ideologies so in 1939 despite being the president he resigned from Congress and left as a lone wolf to find another way to free India and this is where the historic journey of Netaji began.
Now by this time, World War II had started on one side when Hitler was ravaging Europe on the other side the Japanese did not just dominate Asia but also planned to wage war against the US. Hitler had caused so much damage that the British were on the verge of losing their own country; this is where Netaji saw an opportunity. The race to fight the Nazis and the Japanese British army was spread all across, because of which in India only the top officials in the army were British whereas the entire frontline army had only Indian soldiers. Netaji taught if he could somehow get these major Indian soldiers to revolt the British will have no other option but to leave India.
Since the Japanese, Germans, and Russians were enemies of the British Raj they would be more inclined to help him out. When he reached out to Japan they anyways wanted to attack the British, in the battle of Singapore in 1942 less than 10,000 Japanese troops defeated and took 64,000 British soldiers as prisoners of war out of which close to 40,000 soldiers were Indians who were fighting on behalf of the British Raj. Japanese were so smart that instead of sending their army to defeat the British they sent these Indian soldiers as a separate army unit to fight the British and this army was called the Indian National Army.
After taking control over the Azad Hind Forge in 1943 he delivered speeches to motivate the soldiers and establish a purpose for them and that was to free India he reinstated the lost patriotism in the soldiers this is when in of the iconic speeches Netaji uttered the words that will echo through the tunnels of time forever wherein he said “Give me blood, and I shall give you freedom” and because of this infectious enthusiasm, the Indian National Army was ready to fight with the strength of 40,000 soldiers.
Indian National Army was taken all the way from Singapore to Myanmar to Kohima to Imphal and here’s where they encountered the British army unfortunately the British army ruthlessly defeated the Azad Hind Forge within some time the Japanese also surrendered and to make matters worse news came out saying Netaji had died in a plane crash when the nation was mourning the loss of this legend something crazy happened.
As it turns out, nobody in India knew that the Indian National Army was formed by Netaji and the fact that the soldiers were not coming to India to fight for the Japanese but the fight for India’s Independence. British very cleverly censored the press because they knew if Indians came to know that an entire army was set to fight for them these 25 lakh soldiers will start revolting and the rebellion will go out of control.
Now that they had complete control over the prisoners they made one big mistake they taught about conducting a public trial on the three commanders of Netaji which was held in November 1945 wherein these commanders were about to be given a harsh punishment so that no Indian ever dares to stand against British. Due to this everybody in India came to know about the Azad Hind Forge and the fact that Netaji had formed this army to fight against the British just like Netaji strategized the moment Indian soldiers come to know about the INA all these soldiers including the navy started revolting and as the news spread it started snowballing into a rebellion that the British had never seen before. Just like Netaji taught when 25 lakh Indian soldiers started revolting against the 40,000 British officials the British saw no other option but to retract from India and on 20th Feb. 1947 British PM Clement Atlee declared that the British would quit India by June 1948.
This is that one important chapter in History that is usually not covered elaborately in history textbooks. This is a story of unsung heroes of our Independence who shed their blood to free India. Now, is this story of the Redfort trial deliberately not taught to us or is it coincidently overlooked?
Featured Image Courtesy – NDTV