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
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
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
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