A true revolutionary and an Indian nationalist leader. Subhas Chandra Bose is undoubtedly one of the prominent names that feature in the list of people who gave their lives India’s independence. View more at #Hindustan360.
Neta Ji dominated the Indian political scene for more than two decades and dazzled in his own caliber in his own distinguished way in presence of the likes of M.K. Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, M.A. Jinnah to name a few. Such was the aura of his personality and charisma of his character that his myths and legends continue till date. He is the tragic hero of Indian freedom struggle. Perhaps that is the reason why Subhash Chandra had always been fervently revered by the Indian populace.
Although initially aligned with the Indian National Congress, he was ousted from the party due to his difference in ideology. He sought assistance from Nazi leadership in Germany and Imperial forces in Japan during the World War II, to overthrow the British from India. His sudden disappearance post 1945, led to surfacing of various theories, concerning the possibilities of his survival.
Achievement of Neta ji
- After resigning Indian Civil Service, Bose returned to India on 1921 and plunged into the noncooperation movement started by M. K. Gandhi. His mentor was C.R. Das who was a spokesman for aggressive nationalism.
- His activities led to his imprisonment in December 1921. In 1924 he was elected mayor of Calcutta. Bose was soon after deported to Burma (Myanmar) because he was suspected of connections with secret revolutionary movements.
- Released in 1927, he returned to find Bengal Congress affairs in disarray after the death of Das, and shortly thereafter, Bose was elected president of the Bengal Congress. By this time Gandhi had resumed his leadership role in the Congress Party and again emerged to become Mayor of Calcutta in 1930.
- When the civil disobedience movement was started in 1930, Bose was already in detention for his associations with an underground revolutionary group, the Bengal Volunteers. Released and then rearrested several times for his suspected role in violent acts, Bose was finally allowed to proceed to Europe after a year’s detention.
- He pleaded India’s cause with European leaders like Benito Mussolini. He intended to meet Kemal Ataturk but denied permission by the Britishers. He exchanged ideas with British Labour Party leaders and political thinkers like Lord Halifax, Clement Attlee, Sir Stafford Cripps etc. Conservative politicians denied meeting him.
- He returned from Europe in 1936. By 1938 Bose had become a leader of national stature and agreed to accept nomination as Congress President. He contested and got eleceted.
- Bose’s vindication came in 1939, when he defeated a Gandhian rival Pattabhi Sitaramayya for reelection. Nonetheless, the “rebel president” felt bound to resign because of the lack of Gandhi’s support.
- In 1939 Bose organized the All India Forward Bloc a faction within the Indian National Congress, aimed at consolidating the political left and radical elements of the Congress party, however it never really got the national level exposure and its strength was very much limited to Bengal.
- But he was again taken into custody by the British India Police in July 1940. His refusal to remain in prison at this critical period of India’s history was expressed in a determination to fast to death, which frightened the British government into releasing him. On Jan. 26, 1941, though closely watched, he escaped from his Calcutta residence in disguise and, traveling via Kabul and Moscow, eventually reached Germany in April.
Bose’s vision of Independent India
Bose’s vision of Independent India used to differ significantly from that of Gandhi and most of the contemporary Gandhian leaders of Congress. Bose was convinced that broad scale industrialization is the key to self-reliance and independence.However, this did not harmonize with Gandhian economic thought, which clung to the notion of cottage industries and benefiting from the use of the country’s own resources. After being elected as the president of Congress in 1938, he formed a national planning committee and tried formulate a line towards industrialization.
What happened in March, 1938
In March, 1938 Bose wrote to Jawaharlal “What has been happened in Czechoslovakia is but a sequel to the Munich pact. I have been telling Congress friends during the last six months, on the basis of information which I had been getting from Europe, that there will be a crisis in Europe in spring which would last till summer. I have therefore been pressing for a dynamic move from our side – for an ultimatum to the British Government demanding Purna Swaraj …there is no sign of any intention on your part or on the part of Gandhian group to utilize the international situation for our benefit.”
Brief Timeline of Neta Ji since 1941
1941, though closely watched, he escaped from his Calcutta residence in disguise and, traveling via Kabul reached Moscow. Bose assumed that Russia’s traditional enmity to British rule in India would result in support for his plans for a popular rising in India. Bose found the Soviets’ response disappointing
German Ambassador in Moscow, Count von der Schulenburg, had flown Bose to Berlin in a special courier aircraft at the beginning of April where he was to receive a more favorable hearing from Joachim von Ribbentrop and the Foreign Ministry officials.
He founded the Free India Center in Berlin, and created the Indian Legion (consisting of some 4500 soldiers) out of Indian prisoners of war who had previously fought for the British in North Africa prior to their capture by Axis forces. He was also, however, prepared to envisage an invasion of India via the USSR by Nazi troops, spearheaded by the Azad Hind Legion
He was devastated when Hitler’s tanks rolled across the Soviet border. That meant a war between Germany and USSR so no real access point for his troop to India. Bose waited till 1943 and then carefully evaluating the situation slipped secretly away aboard a submarine bound for Japan.
Japan was nurturing the idea to raise an Indian army which would fight alongside the Japanese army. They were working with Mohan Singh, Pritam Singh Dhillon in collaboration with Rash Behari Bose. There were issues and mutual distrust between these Indians and Japanese high command. The idea received a kick start in presence of Bose in the Far East. In July, 1943 at a meeting in Singapore, Rash Behari Bose handed over control of the organization to Subhas Chandra Bose. Bose was able to reorganize the fledgling army and organize massive support among the expatriate Indian population in south-east Asia
On Oct. 21, 1943, Bose proclaimed the establishment of a provisional independent Indian government, and his so-called Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj), alongside Japanese troops, advanced to Rangoon (Yangôn) and thence overland into India, reaching Indian soil on March 18, 1944, and moving into Kohima and the plains of Imphal. In a stubborn battle, the mixed Indian and Japanese forces, lacking Japanese air support, were defeated and forced to retreat.
With the defeat of Japan, Bose’s fortunes ended. A few days after Japan’s announced surrender in August 1945 Bose, fleeing Southeast Asia, reportedly died in a Japanese hospital in Taiwan as a result of burn injuries from a plane crash. However needless to say this event of the plane crash is highly controversial and doubted.
Mystery behind death
Netaji disappeared mysteriously soon after the retreat. It is said that he went back to Singapore and met Field Marshal Hisaichi Terauchi, head of all military operations in South East Asia who arranged for him a flight to Tokyo. He boarded a Mitsubishi Ki-21 heavy bomber from Saigon Airport on August 17, 1945. The following day the bomber crashed shortly after take-off after a night halt in Taiwan. Witnesses report that Bose sustained intense third degree burns in the process. He succumbed to his injuries on Aug 18, 1945. He was cremated on August 20 in Taihoku Crematorium and his ashes were laid to rest at the Renk?ji Temple of Nichiren Buddhism in Tokyo.
The government of India set up a number of committees to investigate the case. First the Figgess Report in 1946 and then the Shah Nawaz Committee in 1956, concluded that Bose had indeed died in the crash in Taiwan.
Later, the Khosla Commission (1970) concurred with the earlier reports, the reports of Justice Mukherjee Commission (2006) said, “Bose did not die in the plane crash and the ashes at Renkoji temple are not his”. However, the findings were rejected by the Government of India.
In 2016, following the declassification of a report handed over by the Japanese government to the Indian Embassy in Tokyo in 1956, titled “Investigation on the cause of death and other matters of the late Subhash Chandra Bose” confirmed the Indian National Hero’s death in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.
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