Surviving INA Veterans to be Honored Today by Dr. Swamy and GD Bakshi
Has the media ever carried news on the surviving INA veterans? Has the govt. felicitated them? Do the citizens of the country know about their presence among themselves? Did the citizens acknowledge them for their role in India’s freedom struggle? It is a big NO! Had it been another country, there would have been celebrations year after year, recognizing and acknowledging their role and rejoicing in their presence. It is time they are honored and acknowledged before they all die out.
Surviving INA veterans will be honored today at a function at IGNCA Auditorium, New Delhi. In this context, Maj Gen GD Bakshi says, “Honouring INA Veterans on 08 Aug. We are holding a function at IGNCA Auditorium from 3 pm onwards to felicitate 8 INA veterans for their stellar contribution to India’s freedom. Dr Subramainam Swamy, Chandra Bose , Self and Col RSN Singh will be speaking. We will RAISE THE DEMAND THAT THESE VETERANS BE INVITED TO PARTICIPTE IN NEXT YEARS REPUBLIC DAY PARADE ON RAJPATH. They deserve it and to deny them this honour is to proclaim that we are still SLAVES OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE. This residual loyalty for the RAJ cannot be tolerated any longer. To treat them as traitors is to Deny our Sovereignty as a nation state and negate our INDEPENDENCE. It is criminal and violative of our sovereignty. If necessary we will go to court.
There are only a few surviving INA veterans who are living in obscurity. After 1300 plus years of foreign invasions and 1000 plus years of foreign rule, it was in 1947 that India gained freedom. All at the cost of martyrdom of lakhs of warriors from across the country! Netaji Bose and INA soldiers were the main trigger for freedom.
In 1940, at the age of 43, Netaji Bose escaped from India. Why? To arrange an army with the help of Japan and other countries to attack the British forces in the Indian soil and free India. In 1943 (October 21), Bose announced the establishment of the Provisional Government of Free India or Azad Hind in Singapore. It was recognized by eleven countries. Its army was the Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army). He underwent big hardships to create his army. Many Indians donated huge amount of money for the formation of the Azad Hind Fauz and themselves became part of the army. Many prisoners of war including Indian expatriates in South Asia, local civilians including barristers, traders, plantation workers, shop keepers with many having military experience joined Netaji. He had proclaimed:
Give me blood! I will give you freedom.
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. INA soldiers 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. 26000 INA soldiers attained martyrdom in action.
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. It led to revolt by Indian soldiers in the British Army and Navy. Ultimately the British had to leave India.
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. 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. Atlee revealed that the British left India in a hurry principally because of Netaji Bose and the INA trials which resulted in revolt by Indian soldiers in the British Army and Navy. He said Gandhi’s role in India’s freedom was MINIMAL.
Unfortunately, after independence Nehru declared the INA martyrs and veterans as traitors. In the words of Maj Gen GD Bakshi from his book BOSE: AN INDIAN SAMURAI (A Military Assessment of Netaji and the INA) “A succession of court historians have tried to craft a narrative that India had obtained her freedom entirely by the soft power of ahimsa (non-violence) and Satyagraha; and that hard power had no role to play whatsoever. This is a huge sacrilege. As per the INA’s official history, the force had a total strength of 60,000. Of these, 26,000 were killed in action. Was that non-violence? The pity is that the Nehruvian dispensation 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. Any nation that seeks to gloss over the martyrdom of 26,000 of its soldiers erodes the very basis of its nationhood.”
Featured INA image courtesy: roots.sg