|It was at the
formal surrender of Indian troops in Singapore in February 1942
that the first formal step towards Indian National Army was
taken. The victorious Japanese military command had separated
the Indians from the white troops and officers.
At Singapore's Farrer Park, nearly 50,000
defeated and demoralised Indian troops, NCOs and officers
had gathered for the formal surrender. Lt. Col. Hunt, on behalf
of Lt. Gen. A E Percival, the General Official-in-Command
of the British forces, formally handed over the Indians to
the Japanese command.
Major Fujiwara, Giani Pritam Singh, Capt.
Mohan Singh, Capt. Mohammad Akram of 1st Battalion, 14th Punjab,
appeared together at Farrer Park. After Col. Hunt's formal
capitulation, Fujiwara spoke of Indians as brothers, fellow-Asians,
who had long suffered the white man's spoliation and racial
Thereafter, Capt. Mohan Singh electrified
the defeated mob with a speech urging them to join a force
for the liberation of their motherland.
Instead of fighting as Britain's mercenaries
to keep other Asians in bondage they should enlist in a nationalist
army which would cooperate with Japan to end British rule
over their own motherland, India. This began the formal effort
to organise the Indian National Army.
Giani Pritam Singh too spoke on the wider
picture - of the freedom struggle Indians in East Asia had
been waging to support the independence movement in India.
Although the speeches of Fujiwara, Mohan Singh
and Pritam Singh, lifting the gloom of the defeat and surrender,
introduced a new direction for the bulk of the Indian POWs,
the officers carefully weighed the pros and cons of the situation.
All in all, not forgetting several phases
of the raising of the INA, it can be said that the Indian
National Army took birth in the minds of the Indian soldiers
on the night of February 17-18, 1942 at Farrer Park in Singapore.
From a concept debated between a group of
Indian freedom fighters and even a smaller band of Japanese
officers sent by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters,
it had become an option many Indian soldiers in Malaya-Singapore
could accept with a clear conscience.
Among the first group of Indian officers who
accepted the INA concept were Capt. Mohan Singh, Capt. Habibur
Rahman Khan, Capt. Ehsan Qadir, Capt. Talib Din, Capt. Mahboob
Ahmed, Capt. Ram Sarup and Capt. Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon.
The INA symbolically broke with the
past by setting up its temporary headquarters in a residential
district which had till then been an exclusively "whites
only" area in Singapore. "The INA spirit" had
to be symbolically demonstrated before the Indians would understand
the nature of the change.