Indian National Army 

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The Indian National Army came into existence during world war II. It was formed by Indian nationalists and prisoners of war for gaining independence from the British empire. The INA was supported by the Japanese army and led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The INA set up its own provisional government and planned an attack against the Britishers in India. However they could only achieve limited success. The army was defeated during the battle of Imphal in 1944 and disbanded altogether post the defeat of Japan in 1945. INA had to finally merge with Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful resistance movement within India, becoming an integral part of India’s fight for liberation. 

In the time of World War II, troops from the British Indian army were sent to the Pacific to fight against the Japanese. The army was composed primarily of Indian nationals. The Japanese army invaded Malaysia in late 1941. The British Indian army had to retreat to Singapore. The British eventually lost control of Singapore and surrendered to the Japanese on February 12, 1942. 

Following the surrender, the command of the Indian soldiers was handed over to the Japanese army. The prisoners of war were informed about the Japanese army’s plan of forming an all-Indian army to fight against the British. Mohan Singh, an Indian soldier who was part of the British Indian Army, was appointed as the commander of the newly formed INA. 45,000 volunteers from the British Indian Army and the Indian Independence League (ILL) joined the INA for attacking the British force in India. The ILL was an organization of the Indian nationalists who lived in the Pacific rim. However Japan’s army was reluctant to stage a quick advance towards India. T his frustrated Singh as he felt that they were missing out on a golden opportunity to take advantage of the depleted British military presence in India at that time. Singh soon started doubting Japanese commitment towards gaining independence for India. The Japanese finally arrested Singh and handed over the command of INA to Subhash Chandra Bose. 

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose


Bose was an Indian nationalist who was part of Gandhi’s non cooperation movement in the early 1920s. But unlike Gandhi, he was ready to resort to both peaceful and violent methods for gaining Independence for India. Bose was a very popular figure in India and had previously tried to forge alliance with rivals of the British empire including the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Subhash Chandra Bose was given the task of restructuring INA; he arrived in Singapore on July 2, 1943. He was successful in convincing the Japanese government for granting official recognition to India’s right to independence. With the help of the Japanese, he established a provisional government to free India in Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar). He made plans to march to India through Burma in 1944. Despite being a small group and poorly equipped, Bose expected more people to join INA as they marched through India. The INA emerged victorious in their first few campaigns. On March 18, 1944, INA marched into India along with Japanese troops. 

But as the troops reached India, they suffered devastating losses. The monsoon rains cut off their supply lines and the British crushed all the local support for the INA. They broke through the Japanese defense line at Imphal and the Japanese troops were compelled to retreat on June 22, 1944. The surrender of Japan in 1945 was the final nail in the coffin for INA. The soldiers of INA had no option, but to return to India. 


On August 19, 1945, Subhash Chandra Bose died in an airplane crash. INA officials Shah Nawaz Khan, Prem Kumar Sahgal, and Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon were put on trial by the British government.

The British government vilified INA as the pawn of axis powers. They accused the INA members of having committed treason by fighting alongside the Japanese army. Bhalubhai Desai was the lawyer for the INA officials put on trial. He defended his clients saying that their actions were not treasonable. Instead, the advocate described the actions of the INA officers as acts of loyal rebellion in the name of the Indian nation. Desai said that it was the right of the members of a subjected nation to fight against the occupying powers.

Demonstrations were staged across the country by pro-independence supporters in support of the INA defendants. Finally the men were freed by Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck. 

The fighting spirit of the INA had considerable impact on the Indian population. Following the INA trial, soldiers in the Royal Indian Navy and the Air Force in Bombay and Karachi rebelled against British rule. India finally gained its Independence in 1947.

INA and Subhash Chandra Bose played a significant role in India’s independence struggle. Bose continues to live in the hearts of millions of Indians!


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Check your knowledge

Answer) Indian National Army.

Answer) The death of Subhash Chandra Bose was sudden and mysterious. He died in an airplane crash on August 19, 1945.

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