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You are here: Home > Netaji Home > Indian National Army
The Leadership Issue  
Bose moves away from Germany
Japan's imperialistic intentions
Prov Azad Hind Govt formed
Birth of Indian National Army
Japan begins enlisting Indians
The summer of 1942
Bose takes over as INA chief
Chinks in relations with Japan
INA's victory & defeat
However, the formal structure of the INA and the political body to control it were not easily settled. Subhas Bose was in distant Europe; and the Japanese government was not sure if they wanted a leader of his stature, given the limited aims of Japan towards India at that stage.

Initially the IGHQ of Japan preferred Rash Behari Basu, the old Indian revolutionary who had lived in Japan since 1915, at the head of the Indian freedom movement in East Asia.

Even so, his leadership had to have formal backing of all Indian committees settled in various parts of East Asia. A speech of Gen. Hideki Tojo, Japan's Prime Minister on February 16, 1942 in support of Indian independence stimulated the hope that the Japanese war aims would be broadened to include military support for India's domestic freedom struggle.

At Basu's invitation, the representatives of the expatriate Indian communities of Malaya, Singapore and Thailand and the delegates of the INA met in Singapore in conference on March 9-10, 1942. This conference, in turn, named representative who would join a larger conference that Basu had organised in Tokyo later in the month for all territorial Indian committees of East Asia and Pacific Ocean islands which had sizeable Indian committees and were under Japanese occupation.

The Tokyo conference chose Rash Behari Basu as the head of the Independence League, the central body in East Asia. The Tokyo Conference on March 28-30, 1942 took place without four eminent representatives, Swami Satyananda Puri, Giani Pritam Singh, Baba Amar Singh and Capt. Mohammad Akram, who had perished in an air accident in the flight taking them to Tokyo. The absence of these sagacious pioneers from the founding conference was keenly felt.

Having created a political umbrella body for conducting the war of liberation, the pioneers put the INA on a firm footing with an acceptable command structure.

On April 24, 1942, at the POW camp at Bidadari in Singapore 30 senior Indian officers came together to decide the issues. They had longer than two months within which to introspect on the INA idea and also examine the Japanese protestation of friendship and the experience of Japanese military rule.

Could they trust Japan's words? What would happen if and when they returned to India? Would Japan renege on plighted words? Also, Muslim Indian POWs had contended with another psychological campaign emanating from British sources. Would Japan's victory mean Buddhist-Hindu domination instead of the composite Indian nationhood which the INA professed as its creed?

Having debated these issues for weeks with officers and men drawn from diverse Indian regions, the senior Indian officers, all POWs in the formal sense, foregathered at the Bidadari camp.

Lt. Col. A C Chatterji asked Capt. Mohan Singh to tell them on oath that "he was neither playing nor would ever play" any devious Japanese game and that he would lead them with the honesty of purpose and never betray their trust.

Mohan Singh took a solemn oath that he would never allow the misuse of the INA for purposes other than those for which the Indians were forming it. The Bidadari resolutions till Subhas Bose arrived in East Asia and elected with acclaim to be the supreme leader of the IIL and the INA remained important signposts for the new Indian National Army.

The Bidadari meeting was followed by a more representative conference of Indian organisations in Bangkok on June 15, 1942. The deliberations continued for ten days. A message from Subhas Chandra Bose in Europe was received with great enthusiasm and acclaim.

The Bangkok conference adopted the objectives of the IIL, a constitution and an elected civilian-military executive to guide the movement and the INA.

The IIL constitution provided for decentralised democratic functions for the territorial committees making allowances for the importance of the military wing in a war. A notable feature of the Bangkok decisions was the attempt it made to ensure that no military intrusion was made in India against wishes of the leaders of the freedom movement.

Another noteworthy resolution was appeal made to Subhas Chandra Bose to come to East Asia. The government of Japan was requested "to use its good offices to obtain the necessary permission and conveniences from the government of Germany to enable Shri Subhas Chandra Bose to reach East Asia...".

The stress on Subhas Bose not only reflected the conference's estimate of Bose's suitability for leading the movement during the war but also a desire not to do anything that would not have popular backing in India. Bose, who had been twice elected President of the Indian National Congress, the Bangkok Conference felt, would be the ideal leader under the given conditions.

However, largely because of the intrigues in the German foreign office and espionage agency Abwehr, Subhas Bose's travel was delayed till the end of 1942. In May and June 1942, the naval battles of the Coral Sea and Midway amounted to a grievous loss for the Japanese navy. Thereafter, Japan could never again regain advantage it had gained by its spectacular actions in December 1941.

Japan (or Germany) was not aware that the Allies had broken the secret code machines of both countries, and very little of secret coded traffic of Japan and Germany was unknown to the highest levels of the Allies, including Soviet Russia.

The Anglo-American code breakers were largely responsible for capturing the INA trained personnel who landed in India for guerilla activities. A vast number of them was captured, executed or sentenced to long terms in prison.

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