Why Subhas Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind Fauj

Subhas Chandra`s call to Indian prisoners of war was well received and 1,200 men, mostly Sikhs, were recruited during the first six months for a training camp set up at Frankenburg.This camp was the precursor of the Azad Hind Fauj. It was initially named Lashkar-iHind or Indian Legion and its strength in the West rose in due course to 4,500. The name of the political organization corresponding to the Indian Independence League in the East was the Free India Centre.

Japan`s entry into the War on 8 December 1941 and her rapid conquest of Malaya and Singapore, with Thailand`s capitulation into neutrality, radically changed the situation so far as India was concerned.Certain Indian nationalist sections such as the Socialist Party and Forward Bloc entertained hopes of liberating the country with Japan`s help. Indians, mainly Sikhs, living in Malaya, Singapore and other countries of the region had set up two secret anti British groups, led by Giani Pritam Singh and Swami Satyananda Puri, respectively. A Japanese officer.

Major Fujiwara, head of the field intelligence section in the region` had, even before the declaration of war by Japan, contacted Giani Pritam Singh and reached an agreement of collaboration with him at Bangkok on 4 December 1941.Following the Japanese advance in North Malaya, Fujiwara and Pritam Singh reached Alorstar on 14 December 1941. It was here that Captain Mohan Singh, a straggler from the 14 Punjab Regiment overrun by the in order in the town. All Indian prisoners of war and stragglers were put under his charge.

Kuala Lumpur fell on 11 January 1942 with 3,500 Indian prisoners of war and Singapore on 15 February 1942 with 85,000 troops of whom 45,000 were Indians.Mohan Singh asked for volunteers who would form the Azad Hind Fauj to fight for freeing India from the British yoke.A large number, again mostly Sikhs, came forward. Mohan Singh established his headquarters at Neeson in Singapore with Lt Col.

Niranjan Singh Gill as Chief of Staff, LtCol. J.K. Bhonsle as Adjutant and Quarter master General and LtCol. A.C. Chatterjee as Director of Medical Services. The Azad Hind Fauj, however, was formally established on 1 September 1942 by which date 40,000 prisoners of war had signed a pledge to join it.Meanwhile another organization, Indian Independence League, had materialized under the leadership of Rash Behari Bose, veteran Indian revolutionary, who had escaped to Japan in June 1915 and become a Japanese citizen.

He arranged two conferences of Indians in the East to discuss political issues. The Tokyo Conference, 2830 March 1942, besides establishing the Indian Independence League, resolved to form an Indian National Army. The Bangkok Conference, 1523 June 1942, formally inaugurated the Indian Independence League adopting the Congress tricolour as its flag.One of the 35 resolutions passed by it invited Subhas Chandra Bose to East Asia.

Through another resolution Captain Mohan Singh was appointed commander in chief of the Army of Liberation for India, i.e. the Indian National Army.The Indian Independence League, which undertook to supply men, materials and money to the Army, established a Council of Action, with Rash Behari Bose as president and Mohan Singh as one of the four members with charge of the military department. News of the Quit India movement launched by the Congress Party in India in August 1942 afforded further encouragement, and the Azad Hind Fauj was formally inaugurated on 1 September 1942.Difficulties, however, arose soon after.

Mohan Singh (now General) was disillusioned regarding the intentions of the Japanese, who wanted to use the Indian National Army only as a pawn and a propaganda tool.He was also dissatisfied with the functioning of the Council of Action and the Indian Independence League, who failed to secure Japanese recognition and official proclamation regarding the existence of the Fauj. The other members of the Council of Action, on the other hand, were unhappy with Mohan Singh for his arbitrariness in military matters.The crisis came on 8 December 1942 when the Japanese arrested Colonel Niranjan Singh Gill branding him to be a British agent, without informing General Mohan Singh, whose protest was ignored and who was not even allowed to see Colonel Gill.

On the same day the three civilian members of the Council of Action resigned.On 29 December 1942, General Mohan Singh was removed from his command and was taken into custody by the Japanese military police. The Indian National Army was disarmed.Efforts to revive it were made by Rash Behari Bose who appointed a committee of administration to manage its affairs.

Subhas Chandra Bose, popularly called Netaji (lit. respected leader), left Europe on 8 February 1943 and arrived at Tokyo on 13 June 1943. After discussing matters with the Japanese prime minister, General Tojo, he came to Singapore on 2 July 1943. Two days later Rash Behari Bose handed over the leadership of the Indian Independence League to him.On 5 July 1943 Netaji revived the Azad Hind Fauj, giving it the battlecry “Chalo Delhi” (“March to Delhi”) and the salutation “Jai Hind” (“Victory to India”).

Read the rest: Sikh Encylopedia

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