Date Written : Jan 20, 2005
Date Modified : Jan 20, 2005
Give me blood, I will give you freedom -- Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, a great revolutionary.
Known as Netaji (leader), Subhash Chandra Bose was a fierce and popular leader and a great revolutionary. He was the president of the Indian National Congress in 1937 and 1939. He followed the path which no one even could have thought of and founded a nationalist force called the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj). Had India got Independence because of his armed struggle, India would have been a strong nation and perhaps would have been amongst the top five.
Subhas Chandra was born on January 23rd 1897 in Cuttack (in present day Orissa). A brilliant student, he topped the matriculation examination of Calcutta province and passed his B.A. in Philosophy from the Presidency College in Calcutta. He was strongly influenced by Swami Vivekananda's teachings and was known for his patriotic zeal as a student. His parents' wishes kept him away from the Indian freedom struggle and led him into studies for the Indian Civil Service in England. He stood fourth in those examinations.
He returned to India, being deeply disturbed by the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre by General Dyer in 1919. He came under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi and joined the Indian National Congress. He was elected president of the Indian National Congress twice in 1937 and in 1939, the second time defeating Gandhiji's nominee.
Bose advocated complete freedom for India at the earliest, whereas the Congress Committee wanted it in phases, through a Dominion status. Other younger leaders including Jawaharlal Nehru supported Bose and finally at the historic Lahore Congress convention, the Congress had to adopt Poorna Swaraj (complete freedom) as its motto.
Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha Movement (1930) again found Subhas in the thick of the fight, and the Government arrested him and lodged him in jail. When the Satyagraha Movement was called off in March 1931 upon the conclusion of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, Subhas, who, along with others, was also set at liberty, raised his voice in protest against the Pact and the suspension of the movement, specially when patriots like Bhagat Singh and his associates had not been saved from the gallows. He was imprisoned and expelled from India. But defying the ban, he came back to India and was imprisoned again! In fact Bose was jailed eleven times between 1920 and 1941.
During the World War II, Bose warned the Indian people and the British against dragging India into the war and the material losses she could incur. He brought a resolution to give the British six months to hand India over to the Indians, failing which there would be a revolt. There was much opposition to his rigid stand, and he resigned from the post of president and formed a progressive group known as the Forward Block (1939).
The second World War broke out in September of 1939. As predicted by Bose, India was declared as a warring state (on behalf of the British) by the Governor General, without consulting Indian leaders. Subhas Chandra Bose started a mass movement against utilizing Indian resources and men for the great war. There was a tremendous response to his call and the British promptly imprisoned him . He took to a hunger-strike, and after his health deteriorated on the 11th day of fasting, he was freed and was placed under house arrest. The British were afraid of violent reactions in India, should something happen to Bose in prison.
Bose suddenly disappeared in the beginning of 1941 and it was not until many days that authorities realized Bose was not inside the house they were guarding! He traveled by foot, car and train and resurfaced in Kabul (now in Afghanistan), only to disappear once again. In November 1941, his broadcast from German radio sent shock waves among the British and electrified the Indian masses who realized that their leader was working on a master plan to free their motherland. It also gave fresh confidence to the revolutionaries in India who were challenging the British in many ways.
The Axis powers (mainly Germany) assured Bose military and other help to fight the British. Japan by this time had grown into another strong world power, occupying key colonies of Dutch, French, and British colonies in Asia. Bose had struck alliance with Germany and Japan. He rightly felt that his presence in the East would help his countrymen in freedom struggle and second phase of his saga began. It is told that he was last seen on land near Keil canal in Germany, in the beginning of 1943. A most hazardous journey was undertaken by him under water, covering thousands of miles, crossing enemy territories. He was in the Atlantic, the Middle East, Madagascar and the Indian ocean. Battles were being fought over land, in the air and there were mines in the sea.
At one stage he traveled 400 miles in a rubber dinghy to reach a Japanese submarine, which took him to Tokyo. He was warmly received in Japan and was declared the head of the Indian army, which consisted of about 40,000 soldiers from Singapore and other eastern regions. Bose called it the Indian National Army (INA) and a government by the name "Azad Hind Government" was declared on the 21st of October 1943. INA freed the Andaman and Nicobar islands from the British, and were renamed as Swaraj and Shaheed islands. The Government started functioning.
Bose wanted to free India from the Eastern front. He had taken care that Japanese interference was not present from any angle. Army leadership, administration and communications were managed only by Indians. Subhash Brigade, Azad Brigade and Gandhi Brigade were formed. INA marched through Burma and occupied Coxtown on the Indian Border. A touching scene ensued when the solders entered their 'free' motherland. Some lay down and kissed, some placed pieces of mother earth on their heads, others wept. They were now inside of India and were determined to drive out the British! Delhi Chalo (Let's march to Delhi) was the war cry.
An unparalleled example of the declaration of Independent Indian government with a cabinet & its own army was seen in form of the Indian National Army under the leadership of Subhash Chanda Bose. It literally had a military attack on British India & had confronted them till Imphal. With the help from Germany & active support from Japan, they shook the very foundation of the British Empire.
The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed the history of humankind. Japan had to surrender. Bose was in Singapore at that time and decided to go to Tokyo for his next course of action. Reportedly, the plane he boarded crashed near Taipei and he died in the hospital of severe burns on 18 August 1945. He was just 48. Nobody took pain at that time to investigate deeply into the conspiracy of assasinating Netaji. Was the assasination plot hatched by Indian National Congress ?
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