It has been more than 68 years since our national flag breathed free air for the first time in 1947 and we owe it to our heroes who laid down their lives for it. We can never be sure about who played the most pivotal role in the 'struggle for independence' but one thing is certain that it was a joint effort and that it did not happen “ बिना खड़ग बिना ढाल” . There were people who, at a tender age of 23 years, wilfully took the path of martyrdom in the hope that it may help incite a revolution that might uproot the British Empire: he was Shaheed Bhagat singh. There were more fighters than we can name but only a few shone as the leader, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was one such prodigy.
You may think that I am exaggerating but Netaji's feats are way beyond the ordinary. Be it cracking Indian Civil Services, being the Congress President, consorting with Germany and Japan to raise the Indian National Army, taking the British Empire head-on, establishing Provisional Government of Free India with Japanese support and what not. The government of Azad Hind even had its own currency, court and civil code, and its existence gave a greater legitimacy to the independence struggle against the British. Immediately after the formation, Azad Hind Fauj declared war against the Anglo-American allied forces on the Indo-Burma Front. Some may argue that it was a complete failure but many (including me) believe that it was much more than meets the eye.
Let me ask you a simple question: Why did the British leave India?
Amidst all the celebrations, we often forget to introspect and the simple facts like these gets ignored. The Quit India movement of 1942 had subsided and nothing major was happening in the mainstream politics, the world war was over and the British had finished on the winning side, Netaji was no more and INA also had to face defeat at the hands of the Royal Army. So, why did the British actually leave?
British PM Lord Clement Atlee – responsible for conceding India’s Independence, answered the all important question during a visit to Free India in 1956 when he mentioned this directly to Justice Chakraborty who was then the acting governor, he said - The final decision to “leave India in a hurry” was due to the “activities of Subhas Chandra Bose which weakened the very foundations of the attachment of the Indian land and naval forces to the British Government”. Also, that in his assessment, Mahatma Gandhi had “minimal” impact on British policies.
Elaborating further on this subject: In August 1945, Netaji had allegedly died, yes I said ‘allegedly’ because the real story still lies behind hundreds of classified files and in my mind the conspiracy further deepened when I saw the promo of a new series “Hunting Hitler” to be aired on History channel which alleges to prove that Hitler may have actually died years after he staged his own suicide after the second world war. A similar story of Netaji may be lying somewhere waiting to be unearthed. I seriously doubt that his disappearance was just bad luck. Anyway coming back to the point, after the loss of INA, three of the top officers – General Shah Nawaz Khan, Colonel Prem Sehgal and Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon were put on trial at the Red Fort in Delhi along with all the captured soldiers. Their crime was “waging war against the King Emperor”. It only proved to be their biggest mistake as the British realised with alarm, during the open trials, the transformation of the perception of Azad Hind fauj from traitors and collaborators to "the greatest among the patriots". Given the tide of militant nationalism that swept through India and the resentment and revolts it inspired, it is arguable that its overarching aim, to foster a revolution within the Indian forces of the British Indian Army and Navy to overthrow the British Empire, was ultimately successful. Netaji may have even foreseen that and may it was all that he always meant to achieve with INA. It may be just a speculation but if it was true, each one of the soldier of Indian National Army deserves a standing ovation.
On Netaji’s birth anniversary, I wish that his soul rests in peace.