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Indian National Army
INA Jubilation.jpg
Active August 1942- September 1945
Country India
Allegiance Azad Hind
Branch Infantry
Role Guerrilla Infantry, Special Operations.
Size 43,000 (approx)
Motto Ittefaq, Itmad aur Qurbani
(Unity, Faith and Sacrifice in Hindustani)
March Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja
Engagements Battle of Ngakyedauk, Battle of Imphal, Battle of Kohima, Burma Campaign, Battle of Pokoku, Battle of Central Burma.
Ceremonial chief Subhash Chandra Bose
Major General M.Z Kiani
Major General S.N. Khan
Colonel P.K. Sahgal
Colonel S.H. Malik
The ensign of the springing Tiger

The Indian National Army (INA) or Azad Hind Fauj (Hindi: आज़ाद हिन्द फ़ौज) was an armed force formed by Indian nationalists in 1942 in Southeast Asia during World War II.

The aim of the army was to overthrow the British Raj in colonial India, with Japanese assistance. Initially composed of Indian prisoners of war captured by Japan in her Malayan campaign and at Singapore, it later drew large numbers of volunteers from Indian expatriate population in Malaya and Burma.

Initially formed in 1942 immediately after the fall of Singapore under Mohan Singh, the first INA collapsed in December that year before it was revived under the leadership of Subhas Chandra Bose in 1943 and proclaimed the army of Bose's Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind (The Provisional Government of Free India). This second INA fought along with the Imperial Japanese Army against the British and Commonwealth forces in the campaigns in Burma, Imphal and Kohima, and later, against the successful Burma Campaign of the Allies. The end of the war saw a large number of the troops repatriated to India where some faced trial for treason and became a galvanising point of the Indian Independence movement.

After Indian independence, the ex-INA members, with some exceptions, were refused service in the Indian Army. However, a number of notable members later became involved in public life in India and in Southeast Asia.

The legacy of the INA is controversial given its associations with Imperial Japan, the course of Japanese occupations in Burma, Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia, her alliance with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, as well as Japanese war crimes and the alleged complicity of the troops of the INA in these. Also, its relative insignificance in military terms, its obvious propaganda value to the Japanese, as well as wartime British Intelligence propaganda of cowardice and stories that associated INA soldiers in mistreatment of captured Allied troops, to some extent mires the history of the army. However, after the war, the Red Fort trials of captured INA officers in India provoked massive public outcries in support of their efforts to fight the Raj, eventually triggering the Bombay mutiny in the British Indian forces. These events in the twilight of the Raj are accepted to have played a crucial role in its hasty end.[1][2][3][4]



Within the Indian independence movement, the origins of the concept of an armed force fighting its way into India to overthrow the Raj goes back to the First World War, when the Ghadar Party in February 1915 planned to initiate rebellion in the British Indian Army from the Punjab through Bengal to Hong Kong with German assistance.[5][6] This plan failed after the information was leaked to British intelligence, but only after the Singapore garrison had rebelled. Further German assistance in the form of arms, ammunition and trained cadres (both European and Indian) came too late to make a difference.[5] During the Second World War, this plan found revival, with a number of different leaders, units and movements formed over the duration of the war. These included "liberation armies" formed in and with the help of Italy, Germany as well as in Southeast Asia. Local movements also formed within India which guerrilla tactics significantly hindered the British war effort by sabotage, civil unrest and propaganda. The southeast Asian theatre saw the concept of the Indian National Army initiated by the Indian Independence League, which came to be acted out in two phases: the formation and subsequent disbandment of the Indian National Army under Captain Mohan Singh, and the formation of the Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind under Subhash Chandra Bose and the reformation of the INA as its army. The concept of INA as the Azad Hind Fauj that lives in Indian public memory, and indeed as it is analysed by historians, as a fighting force is essentially the INA as the army of the Azad Hind government under Netaji Subhash Bose. Both these phases saw extensive support from the Japanese government, militarily as well as politically.

The First INA

Japan and Southeast Asia were major refuges for Indian nationalists living in exile before the start of World War II. They were strong proponents of militant nationalism and influenced Japanese policy significantly.[5][7] Although Japanese intentions and policies with regards to India were far from concrete at the start of the war,[8] Japan had sent intelligence missions, notably under Major I Fujiwara, into South Asia even before the start of the war to garner support from the Malayan Sultans, overseas Chinese, the Burmese resistance and the Indian movement. These missions were successful establishing contacts with Indian nationalists in exile in Thailand and Malaya, supporting the establishment and organisation of the Indian Independence League.[9][10]

At the outbreak of World War II in South East Asia, 70,000 Indian troops were stationed in Malaya. After the start of the war, Japan's spectacular Malayan Campaign had brought under her control considerable numbers of Indian prisoners of war, nearly 55,000 after the Fall of Singapore alone. The conditions of service within the British Indian Army as well as the conditions in Malaya had fed dissension among these troops. From these troops, the First Indian National Army was formed under Mohan Singh and received considerable Japanese aid and support. It was formally proclaimed in September 1942 and declared the subordinate military wing of the Indian Independence League in June that year. The unit was dissolved in December 1942 and Singh was arrested and exiled to Pulau Ubin after apprehensions of Japanese motives with regards to the INA led to disagreements, distrust and subsequently open hostility between Singh and the INA leadership on one hand, and the league's leadership, most notable Rash Behari Bose and the Japanese military command on the other.[11] A large number of the initial volunteers chose to revert to prisoner of war Status and a large number of these were subsequently sent to work in the Death Railway or in New Guinea. From the end of December 1942 to February Rash Behari Bose struggled to hold the INA together.

The Second INA

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in full military uniform.

In a series of meetings between the INA leaders and the Japanese in 1943, it was decided to cede the leadership of the IIL and the INA to Subhash Chandra Bose, since a number of the officers and troops who had returned to PoW camps, or had not volunteered in the first place, made it known that they would be willing to join the INA only on the condition that it was led by Bose.[12] Bose had, at the start of the war in Europe, escaped from house arrest to make his way to Germany, reaching Berlin on 2 April 1941. In Germany he convinced Hitler, in a series of conferences, to support the cause of Indian Independence,[13] forming the Free India Legion and the Azad Hind Radio By early 1943, Bose had turned his attention to Southeast Asia. With its large overseas Indian population, it was recognised that the region was fertile ground for establishing an anti-colonial force to fight the Raj. In January 1943, the Japanese invited Bose to lead the Indian nationalist movement in East Asia. He accepted and left Germany on 8 February. After a three-month journey by submarine, and a short stop in Singapore, he reached Tokyo on 11 May 1943, where he made a number of radio broadcasts to the Indian communities, exhorting them to join in the fight for India’s Independence.

On 15 February 1943, the Army itself was put under the command of Lt. Col. M.Z. Kiani. The former ranks and badges were revived. A policy forming body was formed with the Director of the Military Bureau, Lt. Col Bhonsle, in charge and clearly placed under the authority of the IIL. Under Bhonsle served Lt. Col. Shah Nawaz Khan as Chief of General Staff, Major P.K. Sahgal as Military Secretary, Major Habib Ur Rahman as commandant of the Officers' Training School and Lt. Col. A.C. Chatterji (later Major A.D. Jahangir) as head of enlightenment and culture.

On 4 July 1943, two days after reaching Singapore, Subhash Chandra Bose assumed the leadership of the IIL and the INA in a ceremony at Cathay Building. Bose's influence was notable. His appeal not only re-invigorated the fledgling INA, which previously consisted mainly of POWs, his appeals also touched a chord with the Indian expatriates in South Asia as local civilians, without caste, creed and religion- ranging from barristers, traders to plantation workers, including Khudabadi Sindhi swarankar working as shop keepers – had no military experience joined the INA, doubled its troop strength.[14]

An Officers’ Training School for INA officers, led by Habib Ur Rahman, and the Azad School for the civilian volunteers were set up to provide training to the recruits. A youth wing of the INA, composed of 45 Young Indians personally chosen by Bose and affectionately known as the Tokyo Boys, were also sent to Japan’s Imperial Military Academy to train as fighter pilots. Also, possibly the first time in Asia, and even the only time outside the USSR, a women's regiment, the Rani of Jhansi regiment was raised as a combat force.

Troop strength

Military parade of the INA at the Padang on 5 July 1943.

Although there are slight variations in estimates, the INA is considered to have comprised about 40,000 troops when it was disbanded. The following is an estimate attributed to Lt. Colonel G.D. Anderson of British intelligence:

There were 45,000 Indian troops from Malaya captured and assembled in Singapore when the Japanese captured it. Of these, about 5,000 refused to join the First INA. The INA at this time had 40,000 recruits. The Japanese were prepared to arm 16,000. When the "first INA" collapsed, about 4,000 withdrew. The Second INA, commanded by Subhash Chandra Bose, started with 12,000 troops. Further recruitment of ex-Indian army personnel added about 8,000-10,000. About 18,000 Indian civilians enlisted during this time. In 1945, at the end of the INA, it consisted of about 40,000 soldiers.[15]

Order of Battle

The Tokyo Boys,Tokyo Imperial Military Academy.

The exact organisation of the INA and its troop strength is not known, as Fay notes, since its records were destroyed by the withdrawing Azad Hind Government before Rangoon fell.[16]

Fay's account of the INA gives the following account.

  • The 1st Division was under Mohammed Zaman Kiyani. It drew a large number of ex-Indian army PoWs who had joined Mohan Singh's first INA. In addition, it also drew PoWs who had not joined in 1942. The 1st division consisted of
    • The 2nd Guerrilla regiment, or the Gandhi Brigade under Col. Inayat Kiani, consisting of two infantry battalions.
    • The 3rd Guerrilla regiment, or the Azad Brigade under Col. Gulzara Singh, consisting of three battalions.[17]
    • The 4th Guerrilla regiment, or the Nehru Brigade. This unit was later under the command of Lt. Col G S Dhillon.
    • The 1st Guerrilla regiment, or the Subhas Brigade under Col. Shah Nawaz Khan, consisting of three infantry battalions. This unit was the first and the major commitment of the INA to the U Go Offensive.
A soldier of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment in training, c 1940s.

The 1st Division was lightly armed. Each battalion was composed of five Companies of infantry. The individual companies were armed with six antitank rifles, six Bren guns and six Vickers machine guns. Some NCOs carried hand grenades, while men going forward on duty were issued British stocks of hand grenades by senior officer of the Bahadur groups attached to each unit. Mortars were available, but Fay points out these were not available at battalion level.[18]

  • The 2nd Division under Aziz Ahmed.[19] The 2nd division was formed to a large extent after the Imphal offensive had started, and drew a large remnant of the Hindustan Field Force of the First INA. The 2nd Division consisted of.
    • The 1st Infantry Regiment, later to be merged with the 5th Guerrilla regiment to form the 2nd Infantry Regiment. The 1st Infantry drew a large number of civilian volunteers from Burma and Malaya, and came to ve equipped with the lions share of the heavy armament that the INA possessed.[20]
    • The 5th Guerilla regiment, later to be renamed the 2nd Infantry Regiment under Col Prem Sahgal. This unit drew a large number of the remnants of the Hindustan Field Force.
  • An additional 3rd Division of the INA was composed chiefly of local volunteers in Malaya and Singapore. This unit disbanded before Japan Surrendered. There was also a motor transport division, but this did not have a significant capability or resources.

Command structure

The INA in operation

As the Japanese offensive opened, the INA sent its first forces into battle. The INA's own strategy was to avoid set-piece battles for which it lacked arms, armament as well as man-power.[21] Initially, it sought to obtain arms as well as increase its ranks from British Indian soldiers expected to defect to patriotic cause. Once the Japanese forces were able to break the British defences at Imphal, the INA would cross the hills of North-East India into the Gangetic plain, where it was to work as a guerrilla army and expected to live off the land, garner support, supplies, and ranks from amongst the local populace to ultimately touch off a revolution.

Prem Kumar Sahgal, an officer of the INA once Military secretary to Subhas Bose and later tried in the first Red Fort trials, explained that although the war itself hung in balance and nobody was sure if the Japanese would win, initiating a popular revolution with grass-root support within India would ensure that even if Japan lost the war ultimately, Britain would not be in a position to re-assert its colonial authority, which was ultimately the aim of the INA and Azad Hind.


The plans decided between Bose and Kawabe envisaged the INA was to be assigned an independent sector of its own in the U Go offensive and no INA unit was to operate less than a battalion strength.For operational purposes, the Subhas Brigade was assigned under the command of the Japanese general Head Quarters in Burma. Advance parties of the Bahadur Group also went forward with the advanced Japanese units early during the offensive. As Japan opened its offensive towards India, the INA's first division, consisting of four Guerrilla regiments, was divided between the diversionary Ha Go offensive in Arakan 1944, with one battalion reaching as far as Mowdok in Chittagong. A Bahadur group unit, led by Shaukat Malik, took the border enclave of Moirang in early April. The main body of the first division was however committed to the U Go Offensive directed towards Manipur, initially successfully protecting the Japanese flanks against Chin and Kashin guerrillas as the Mutaguchi's three divisions crossed the Chindwin river and the Naga Hills, and later directed towards the main offensive through Tamu in the direction of Imphal and Kohima. However, by the time Khan's forces left Tamu, the offensive had been held, and the troops were redirected to Kohima. By the time Khan's forces reached Ukhrul in the vicinity of Kohima, Japanese forces had begun their withdrawal from Kohima. The first division suffered the same fate as did Mutaguchi's Army when the siege of Imphal was broken. With little or no supplies and supply lines deluged by the Monsoon, harassed by Allied air-dominance and local Burmese irregulars, the INA began withdrawing when the 15th Army and Burma Area Army began withdrawing, and suffer the same terrible fate as wounded, starved and diseased men succumbed during the hasty withdrawal into Burma. The INA lost a substantial amount of men and materiel in the retreat, and a number of units were disbanded or used to feed the newly formed units of the second division.


As the allied Burma campaign began the following year, however, the INA remained committed to the defence of Burma, and was a part of the Japanese defensive deployments. The second division, tasked with the defence of Irrawaddy and the adjoining areas around Nangyu, was instrumental in opposing Messervy's 7th Indian Division when it attempted to cross the river at Pagan and Nyangyu during Irrawaddy operations. Later, during the Battles of Meiktila and Mandalay, the 2nd division was instrumental in denying the British 17th Division the area around Mount Popa that would have exposed the Flank of Kimura's forces attempting to retake Meiktila and Nyangyu. Ultimately however, the division was obliterated. As the Japanese situation became precarious, Azad Hind withdrew from Rangoon with Ba Maw's government and the Japanese forces for Singapore along with the remnants of the first division and the Rani of Jhansi Regiment. Nearly 6000 troops amongst the surviving units of the Army remained in Rangoon under A.D Loganathan surrendered as Rangoon fell, and helped keep order till the allied forces entered the city. The only Indian territory that the Azad Hind govt controlled were the Indian territories that fell during the Imphal offensive, and the islands of Andaman and Nicobar. However, the latter two were bases for the Japanese Navy, and the navy never really fully relinquished control. Enraged with the lack of administrative control, the Azad Hind Governor, Lt. Col Loganathan later relinquished his authority to return to the Government's head quarters in Rangoon. The Japanese forces is said to have carried out torture on thousands of local inhabitants during the occupation, and some historians inexplicably apportion the blame to Subhas Bose's provisional government.[22]

End of the INA

Troops of the Indian National Army who surrendered at Mount Popa, April 1945.

As the Japanese withdrawal from Burma progressed, the other remnants began a long march over land and on foot towards Bangkok, along with Subhas Chandra Bose. The withdrawing forces regularly suffered casualties from allied airplanes strafing them, clashes with Aung San's Burmese resistance, as well as Chinese guerrillas who harassed the Japanese troops. At the time of Japan's surrender in September 1945, Bose left for Manchuria to attempt to contact the advancing Soviet troops, and was reported to have died in an air crash near Taiwan.[23][24]

Repatriation to India

Even before the end of the war in South Asia, the INA prisoners who were falling into allied hands were being evaluated by forward intelligence units for potential trials.[25] A small number had fallen into Allied hands in 1943 around the time of the Imphal campaign and subsequent withdrawal, while larger numbers surrendered or were captured during the 14th Army's Burma Campaign. A total of 16,000 of the INA's 43,000 recruits were ever captured, of whom around 11,000 were interrogated.[26] The number of prisoners necessitated this selective policy which envisaged trials of those with the strongest commitment to Bose' ideologies, while those with less strong views and other extenuating circumstance may be dealt with more leniently, with the punishment proportional to their commitment or war crimes. For this purpose, the field intelligence units designated the captured troops as Blacks with strongest commitment to Azad Hind, Greys with varying commitment but also with enticing circumstances that led them to join the INA, and Whites, ie, those who pressured into joining the INA under the circumstances but with no commitment to Azad Hind, INA, or Bose.

By July 1945, a large numbers had been shipped back to India. At the time of the fall of Japan, the remaining captured troops were transported to India via Rangoon. Large numbers of local Malay and Burmese volunteers including the recruits to the Rani of Jhansi regiment returned to civilian life and were not identified. Those repatriated passed through transit camps in Chittagong and Calcutta to be held at detention camps all over India including Jhingergacha and Nilganj near Calcutta, Kirkee outside Pune, Attock, Multan and at Bahadurgarh near Delhi. Bahadurgarh also held prisoners of the Indische Legion. By November, around 12,000 INA prisoners were held in these camps, from which they were released according to the "colours".[25] By December, around 600 whites were released per week. From amongst the rest, the selection for those to face trial started.[25]

The Red Fort trial

The Red Fort, scene of the INA trials in 1945-46.

At the conclusion of the war, the government of British India brought some of the captured INA soldiers to trial on treason charges. The prisoners would potentially face the death penalty, life imprisonment or a fine as punishment if found guilty. It was initially believed by Auchinleck that no less than twenty death penalties were likely to be confirmed. Between November 1945 and May 1946, approximately ten courts-martial were held. The first of these, and the most celebrated one, was the joint court-martial of Colonel Prem Sahgal, Colonel Gurubaksh Singh Dhillon and Major General Shah Nawaz Khan held in a public trial at Red Fort. The then Advocate General of India, Sir Naushirwan P Engineer was appointed the counsel for the prosecution. Nearly all the defendants in the first trial were charged with Waging against the King-Emperor (the charge of treason did not exist in the Indian Army Act, 1911) as well as torture, murder and abettment to murder. The three defendants were defended by the INA Defence Committee formed by the Congress and include legal luminaries of India of the time including Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhulabhai Desai, Kailashnath Katju and others. The trials covered arguments based on Military Law, Constitutional Law, International Law, and Politics and much of the initial defence was based on the argument that they should be treated as prisoners of war as they were not paid mercenaries but bona fide soldiers of a legal government, the Provisional Government of Free India, or the Arzi Hukumate Azad Hind, "however misinformed or otherwise they had been in their notion of patriotic duty towards their country" and as such they recognized the free Indian state as their sovereign and not the British sovereign.[27] Those charged later only faced trial for torture and murder or abettment of murder.

These trials attracted much publicity, and public sympathy for the defendants who were perceived as patriots in India. The Indian National Congress and the Muslim League both made the release of the three defendants an important political issue during the agitation for independence of 1945-6. Beyond the concurrent campaigns of noncooperation and nonviolent protest, this spread to include mutinies and wavering support within the British Indian Army. This movement marked the last major campaign in which the forces of the Congress and the Muslim League aligned together; the Congress tricolor and the green flag of the League were flown together at protests. In spite of this aggressive and widespread opposition, the court martial was carried out, and all three defendants were sentenced to deportation for life. This sentence, however, was never carried out, as the immense public pressure of the demonstrations and riots forced Claude Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, to release all three defendants. Within three months, 11,000 soldiers of the INA were released after cashiering and forfeiture of pay and allowance.[1][28] On the recommendation of Lord Mountbatten of Burma, and agreed by Nehru, as a precondition for Independence the INA soldiers were not re-inducted into the Indian Army.

Post 1947

Within India, the INA continued to have a strong hold over the public psyche and the sentiments of the armed forces till as late as 1947. Some have said that Shah Nawaz Khan was instrumental in organising INA troops to train Congress volunteers on Nehru's request in late 1946 and early 1947. After 1947,some accounts suggest that the INA-veterans were involved in training civilian resistance forces against the Nizam's Razakars prior to the execution of Operation Polo and annexation of Hyderabad.[29] There are also mentions of some INA veterans leading Pakistani irregulars during the First Kashmir war.[30]

INA-veterans were not allowed to join the Indian Army after India's independence in August 1947. However, a few ex-INA members, notably the most prominent members or those closely associated with Subhas Bose or with the INA trials later have seen prominent public life or held important positions in independent India.

Shah Nawaz Khan served as a Minister of State for Rail in the First Indian cabinet. Lakshmi Sahgal, Minister for Women's affairs in the Azad Hind govt,is a well known and widely respected public figure in India. In 1971, she joined the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and was later elected the leader of the All India Democratic Women's Association. In 2002, she was also nominated by the Communist bloc's for the post of President of India, when she lost to the candidature of Abdul Kalam. Abid Hasan, Subhas Bose's sole Indian companion in the U-Boat from Germany to South-east Asia, joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1948 and served as the Indian Ambassador to a number of countries including Egypt and Denmark. Mohan Singh served for two terms in the Rajya Sabha of the Indian Parliament as a member of the Indian National Congress. Ram Singh Thakur, composer of a number of songs including the INA's regimental march Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja, later composed the tune for the Indian National Anthem.

Amongst the very few ex-INA members who joined the Indian Armed Forces after 1947 was R S Benegal, a member of the Tokyo Boys who was allowed to join the Indian Air Force in 1952 and later rose to be an Air Commodore. Benegal saw action in both the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak war, earning a Maha Vir Chakra, India's second highest award for valour.

A few members, including Gurubaksh Singh Dhillon and Lakshmi Sahgal were later awarded civilian honours of Padma Vibhushan by the Indian Government in the 1990s. Subhas Bose himself was posthumously awarded Bharat Ratna in 1992 but this was later withdrawn over the controversy over the circumstances of his death.

Outside India, the Malaysian Indian Congress was founded in 1946 by, amongst others, notable members of the INA and of which John Thivy was the founding president. Janaky Athi Nahappan, Second in Command of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment was also a founding member of the MIC, and later was to become a noted welfare activist and a distinguished senator in the Dewan Negara of the Malaysian Parliament. Rasammah Bhupalan, also of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, later became a noted welfare-activist and a widely respected champion for Women's Rights in Malaysia.


The INA's impact on the war and on British India after the war has been analysed in detail. The INA's role in military terms is considered to be relatively insignificant, given its small numerical strength, lack of heavy weapons (it utilised captured British and Dutch arms initially), relative dependence on Japanese logistics and planning as well as its lack of independent planning. Shah Nawaz claims in his personal memoirs that the INA was a very potent and motivated force. Fay however, reinforces the argument that the INA was relatively less significant in military terms. Its special services group played a significant part in halting the First Arakan Offensive while still under Mohan Singh's command. The propaganda threat of the INA, coupled with the lack of concrete intelligence on the unit early after the fall of Singapore made it a potent threat to Allied war plans in South East Asia. It threatened to destroy the Sepoy's loyalty in the British Indian Army[31] and in fact was significant and successful enough[32][33] during the First Arakan Offensive for the British intelligence to begin the Jiffs campaign as well as engage in campaign to improve morale and preserve the loyalty of the sepoy to consolidate and prepare for defense of Manipur. These measures included imposing newsban on Bose and the INA that was not lifted till four days after the fall of Rangoon two years later.

Later, during the Japanese U-GO offensive towards Manipur in 1944, it played a crucial and successful role in the diversionary attacks in Arakan as well as in the Manipur Basin itself where it fought with Mutaguchi's 15th Army.[2] It qualified itself well in the Battles in Arakan, Manipur, Imphal,[34] and later during the withdrawal through Manipur and Burma. Later, during the Burma Campaign, it did play a notable role in the Battles of Irrawaddy and Meiktilla especially in the latter, supporting the Japanese offensive and tying down British troops.[19][35][36][37][38] Fay also notes the published accounts of several veterans, including that of William Slim that portrays INA-troops as incapable fighters and untrustworthy, and points out the inconsistencies and conflicts between the different accounts to conclude that intelligence propaganda as well as institutional bias may have played a significant part in the portrayed opinions.[39]

It is however noted that the INA did indeed suffer a number of notable incidences of desertion. Fay notes the significant ones amongst these were not during the offensives into Manipur and the subsequent retreat through Burma, when incidences of desertion did occur but at a far smaller numbers than the fourteenth army told its troops.[40] The significant desertions, Fay notes, occurred around the Battles at Irrawaddy and later around Popa. During the fall of Rangoon, 6000 INA troops manned the city to maintain order before allied troops entered the city. Nevertheless, Fay argues, the INA was not significant enough to militarily beat the British Indian Army, and was moreover aware of this and formulated its own strategy of avoiding set-piece battles, garnering local and popular support within India and instigating revolt within the British Indian army to overthrow the Raj.[41] Moreover, the Forward Bloc underground within India had been crushed well before the offensives opened in the Burma-Manipur theatre, depriving the army of any organised internal support.[2]

It was however, the INA trials that attracted more attention in India than the war time activities of the unit, and coupled to the decisions to hold the first trial in public, these became a rallying point for the independence movement from Autumn 1945,[1][2][3][4] so much so that the release of INA prisoners and suspension of the trials came to be the dominant political campaign in precedence over the campaign for Freedom.[1] Newspaper reports around November 1945 reported executions of INA troops,[42] which deteriorated already volatile situations. Opposition to the trial of the officers for treason became a major public and political campaign, and the very opening of the first trial saw violence and series of riots in a scale later described as sensational.[1] It also saw a campaign that defied communal barriers.

Increasingly violent confrontations broke out between the police and the mass rallies being held all over India, culminating in public riotings in support of the INA men.[3][43][44][45] The Raj also observed with increasing disquiet and unease the spread of pro-INA sympathies within the troops of the British Indian forces.[44] In February 1946, while the trials were still going on, a general strike ratings of the Royal Indian Navy rapidly deteriorated into a mutiny, incorporating ships and shore establishments of the RIN throughout India, from Karachi to Bombay and from Vizag to Calcutta. Amongst the rallying cries of the ratings the central one was the INA trials and slogans invoking Subhas Bose. Significantly, the mutiny received massive militant public support. At some places, NCOs in the British Indian Army started ignoring orders from British superiors. In Madras and Pune, the British garrisons had to face revolts within the ranks of the British Indian Army. Another Army mutiny took place at Jabalpur during the last week of February 1946, soon after the Navy mutiny at Bombay. British troops suppressed this by force, using bayonets. It lasted about two weeks. After the mutiny, about 45 persons were tried by court martial. 41 were sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment or dismissal. In addition, a large number were discharged on administrative grounds. Fay records Auchinleck as having sent a "Personal and Secret" letter to all senior British officers as having explained the remissions of the sentences in the first trial as[46]

...practically all are sure that any attempt to enforce the sentence would have led to chaos in the country at large, and probably to mutiny and dissension in the Army, culminating in its dissolution

Later historians have pointed out that the INA trials and its after effects brought the decisive shift in British policy. The viceroy's journal describes the autumn and Winter 1945-45 as "The Edge of a Volcano".[2] Intelligence reports at the time noted widespread public interest and sympathy that turned into what has been described as "Patriotic Fury" that was beyond the communal barriers in India at the time. Particularly disturbing for the British, was the overt and public support for the INA by the soldiers of the Indian army.[47] In addition, the use of Indian troops for the restoration of Dutch and French rule in Vietnam and Indonesia also fed growing resentment within the forces.[48] The Raj had every reason to fear a revival of the Quit Indian movement, especially given the Congress rhetoric preceding the elections.[47] and rapidly realised that the Indian army, unlike in 1942, could not be used to suppress such a movement owing largely to nationalistic and political consciousness in the forces which was ascribed to the INA.[2][49] Some historians cite Auchinleck's own assessment of the situation to suggest this shortened the Raj by at least fifteen to twenty years.[49]

The political effects of the INA trials was enormous and were felt around India as late as 1948, much to the chagrin of the then Indian government.[50][51] Clement Attlee, the then British Prime Minister, reflecting on the factors that guided the British decision to relinquish the Raj in India, is said to have cited the effects of the INA and Bose's activities on the British Indian Army and the Bombay Mutiny as being the most important.[52]

After the war ended, the story of the INA and the Free India Legion was seen as so inflammatory that, fearing mass revolts and uprisings—not just in India, but across its empire—the British Government forbade the BBC from broadcasting their story.[53]


The army's relationship to the Japanese was an uncomfortable one. Bose wished to establish his political independence from the regime that sponsored him (he had, in fact, led protests against the Japanese expansion into Manchuria, and supported Chiang Kai-shek during the 1930s), but his complete dependence on them for arms and resources made this difficult. On the Japanese side, members of the high command had been personally impressed by Bose, and were thus willing to grant him some latitude; more importantly, the Japanese were interested in maintaining the support of a man who had been able to mobilize large numbers of Indian expatriates—including, most importantly, 40,000 of the 45,000 Indians captured by the Japanese at Singapore.

Demolition of INA War Memorial by the Gurkha sappers, 1945.

The INA's interactions with the British Indian Army occurred over two distinct phases. The first of these was December 1942-March 1943, during the First Arakan offensive at a time that the morale of the sepoy was low and the knowledge about the INA was minimal. The INA's Special Services agents led a successful operation during this time in encouraging the Indian troops to defect to the INA, while those who returned to India beaten in the field took back horrific if unbelievable stories of Japanese troops using their parachutes not only to drop from the skies, but to go back up again. The threat of the INA at this time was significant and successful enough for the British intelligence to begin the Jiffs campaign as well as engage in campaign to improve morale and preserve the loyalty of the sepoy. General newsban on reporting the INA allowed the British Indian Army to consolidate and prepare for defense of Manipur, which it successfully did. By the end of March 1945, the sepoy of the British Indian Army was reinvigorated and perceived the men of the INA little more than savage turncoats and cowards. Bayly and Harper mentions that a number of times, the sepoys in the field units shot captured or wounded INA men, relieving their British officers of the complex task of formulating a formal plan for captured men. Writing about his experiences in the infantry during the Burma Campaign,[54] the author George MacDonald Fraser stated that INA prisoners had to be guarded by British troops to prevent them from being shot by British Indians. After Singapore was retaken, Mountbatten ordered the INA's war memorial to its fallen soldiers to be blown up.

However, the INA's most significant interaction with the British Indian Army occurred not in the battle field, but after the end of the war. The lifting of the newsban after the fall of Rangoon led to the INA story breaking in India which, within a matter of months if not weeks, had captured the public imagination within India. This nationalistic euphoria swept through the armed forces as well, generally destabilising the Sepoy's loyalty to both the Raj and his regiments. Fay notes that even before Japan surrendered preparations were underway for the trial of selected INA men. The predominant feeling in the Indian officer corps at this time was a resentment was that so few were being tried. This changed dramatically over the following months as the further information on the INA began emerging in the press and its true extent, as well as the stories of its campaigns came to be known. The general feeling within the British Indian army at this time is described by some is that of guilt for having fought for the British and against the INA. The revolts and mutinies within the armed forces in early 1946, during the trial and in a situation of volatile nationalist public mood, are held to be a significant factor in precipitating the end of the Raj.

Although the British Indian Army remained the largest volunteer force during the World War II and saw action from the theatres of North-Africa to Europe and New Guinea to Manipur, in India today, the stories of the INA form a much more prominent aspect of both appreciation as well as analysis of her role in World War II.


A number of different views and controversies surround the history and records of the Indian National Army, borne especially by its integral associations with Imperial Japan, and the course and history of Japanese occupation of South-East Asia during the War. These include views especially among British troops[55] that the recruits were traitors, that they were Axis Collaborators, as well as allegations that INA troops engaged in or were complicit in widespread torture of Allied and Indian prisoners of war. Fay concludes in his 1993 history of the army that the allegations were largely products of the British propaganda campaign and points out that the allegations were not borne out by the charges against the defendants in the Red Fort trials.[56] Fay also points out that war-time press releases as well as the field counter-intelligence directed at the sepoy portrayed the INA as a small group and attributes to the Jiffs campaign the promalgamation of the view that INA recruits were weak-willed and traitorous Axis collaborators motivated by selfish interests of greed and personal gain.[57] He further notes over the records of Shah Nawaz Khan's trial that officers of the INA had described to their men the possibility of having to fight the Japanese after having fought the British in order to prevent Japan from exploiting India.[32][58][59]

Controversy also exists in India with regards to the treatment of the ex-INA soldiers by the post-independence government of India and of historical records of the period leading up to Indian independence in 1947, with some alleging that official histories of the independence movement largely omit events surrounding the INA especially the Red Fort trials and the Bombay Mutiny and ignore their significance in terms of rejuvenation of the independence movement and guiding the British decision to relinquish the Raj.[60][61] Further criticisms have been made in recent years for the general hardships and apathy surrounding the conditions of ex-INA troops[62] including, for example, the circumstances surrounding the death and funeral of Ram Singh Thakur. These have been compounded by a number of conspiracy-theories and news reports in the past on agreements between the Indian political leadership to hand over its leader Subhas Chandra Bose as a War Criminal if he was found to be alive.[63][64][65] Later historians have, however, argued that given the political aim and nature of the entire Azad Hind movement especially the Indian National Army, Nehru's decisions may have been to prevent politicisation of the army and assert civilian authority over the military.[66]



Subhas Chandra Bose laying foundation stone of INA War Memorial, Singapore, 8 July 1945.
  • The INA War Memorial at Singapore to commemorate the "Unknown Warrior" of the INA. Started on 8 July 1945 the memorial was situated at the Esplanade Park. It was destroyed on Mountbatten's orders when allied troops reoccupied the city. The words inscribed upon the War Memorial were the motto of the INA: Ittefaq (Unity), Etmad (Faith) and Kurbani (Sacrifice).
The plaque erected by the National Heritage Board at Esplanade Park marking the INA Monument site in Singapore.
  • The Former Indian National Army Monument (Chinese: 印度国民军纪念碑), was established in 1995 by the National Heritage Board of Singapore at the site where the old memorial stood with financial donations from the Indian community in Singapore. The site is now officially one of the Historical sites in Singapore.[67]
  • The Indian National Army Memorial at Moirang, Manipur commemorates the place where the flag of Azad Hind was raised by Col. Shaukat Hayat Malik. Moirang was the first Indian territory captured by the INA. The memorial suffered damage in an insurgent attack in 2004 when the Statue of the Springing Tiger on the entrance was blown up.
  • Swatantrata Sainani Smarak (Memorial to the soldiers of the Independence Army) is an Indian National Army (INA) memorial at the Salimgarh Fort, at Delhi, adjacent to the Red Fort, on the banks of the Yamuna. The site has been neglected for a number of years now and fallen into disrepair.[68] Its exhibits include the Indian National Army uniform worn by Colonel Prem Sahgal, riding boots and coat buttons of Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, photographs of Subhash Chandra Bose. In addition, a separate gallery also holds material and photographs from excavations carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India inside the fort in 1995.

Postage and philately

Indian commemorative post-mark of "Jai Hind"

These were a part of the Jai Hind series of stamps issued on 15 August 1947.[70]

  • Commemorative postage stamps were issued by the Indian government in 1968 and 1993 respectively to commemorate the 25th and the 50th anniversaries of the establishment of Azad Hind at Singapore.[71]

The Indian Postal Department also includes the six unused Azad Hind Stamps in its commemorative book India's Freedom Struggle through India Postage Stamps.[70]

Works on the INA

The Indian National Army, from the time it came into public perception in India around the time of the Red Fort Trials, and from the time it found its way into the works of military historians around the world, has been the subject of a number of projects, both of academic, historical and of popular nature. Some of these are critical of the army, some-especially of the ex-INA men are biographical or auto-biographical, while still others historical and political works, that tell the story of the INA. A large number of these give a large analysis of Subhas Chandra Bose and his work with the INA.

Literary works

The first literary works on the INA were published as early as 1946.Some were works of fiction with the INA as the central theme and subject, others the records of the INA that the authors were able to obtain from the ex-servicemen, or from what information was available from the trials and from what the British Intelligence possessed and that the authors had access to. Some of the literature focussed on the first INA trial itself. The notable work on INA include

  • Two Historic Trials at Red Fort by Moti Ram. (New Delhi:Roxy Printing Press,1946). This was one of the first published account of any sort of the INA and describes the Trial of Major General Shah Nawaz Khan, Col Prem Sahgal, and Col G.S. Dhillon that took place between November and December, 1946. Moti Ram was the staff correspondent of the Hindustan Times at the first Red Fort Trial and wrote his book on what information was available at the trial, and from interviews with the defendants, Sahgal, Khan and Dhillon. The book also provides an account of the 1858 trial of Bahadur Shah Zafar.
  • Jai Hind, the Diary of a Rebel Daughter of India. Bombay, 1945 (fiction) by Amritlal Seth. The book is a work of fiction narrating the story of a recruit of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment. It is believed to be loosely based on the story of Lakshmi Sahgal.
  • The Day of the Scorpion and The Towers of Silence, second and third respectively of Paul Scott's Raj Quartet that mentions Jiffs in the political and social context in which the term found use in the Eastern Army during the war. The 1984 British TV series, Jewel in the Crown [[1]], based on Scott's quartet, also includes the role of the INA as part of the political backdrop of the story, explicitly so especially in the 3rd episode of the series.
  • The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh chronicles the fictional life of a Rangoon Teak trader and describes the occupation of Rangoon and the Indian perspectives and efforts[72] In the book, Uma Dey is a widow and Indian Independence League activist.[72] Her appearance in the later half of the book is used as a device to characterize the post-colonial divisions for the remainder of the novel.[72] The novel describes the Burma front in some detail, examining the motivations of those Indian officers who joined the INA and those who did not.

Historical literary works on the INA includes

  • My memories of I.N.A. & its Netaji' by Shah Nawaz Khan.
  • The Indian National Army-Second Front of the Indian Independence Movement by Kalyan Ghosh.
  • Jungle Alliance: Japan and the Indian National Army. by Joyce C Lebra.
  • The Forgotten Army: India's Armed Struggle for Independence, 1942-1945. by Peter Fay.

Visual Media

Notable works on the INA in the visual and electronic media include

  • The War of The Springing Tiger (1984)- made by Granada Television for Channel 4. It examines the role of the Indian National Army during the Second World War. The documentary focuses on a number of aspects, including why the PoWs chose to join the INA, its role in the Burma and Imphal Campaign, as well as exploring its role in the independence movement. The documentary took contributions from Lakhsmi and Prem Sahgal.[73][74]
  • The Forgotten Army- (1999)- Film India. This was a documentary directed by Kabir Khan and produced by Akhil Bakshi following their famous Azad Hind Expedition in 1994-95. The expedition retraced the route taken by the troops of the INA from Singapore to Imphal and ends at Red Fort, where the famous trial of the officers were held. The expedition team had among its members Col G.S. Dhillon who himself was one of the famous accused in the first trial, Captain Lakshmi Sahgal, who commanded the Rani of Jhansi Regiment and was also the minister in Charge of Women's affairs in the Azad Hind Govt and Captain S.S. Yadava, an INA veteran and once the general secretary of All India INA Committee, as well as prominent members of the Indian Parliament. The expedition met, and honoured, a number of INA veterans residing in South East Asia. The then Indian Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao sent through the expedition team goodwill messages to the heads of state of the countries it went through. The documentary went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Film South Asia festival in 1999.[75]
  • Hitler's secret Indian army (2004)-BBC- By Mike Thomson. This traces briefly the story of Bose's Azad Hind Legion in Europe, but does not attempt to distinguish or explain the differences between the Legion and the INA.[53]
  • Historical Journey of the Indian National Army- From the National Archives of Singapore.[76]
  • Indian National Army in East Asia-Hindustan Times.[77]


INA has also been the source of or a significant context of a number of movies in a number of Indian languages. Notable amongst these include

  • Pahla Admi, a 1950 film by Bimal Roy and INA veteran Nazir Ahmed.[78]
  • Samadhi, a 1950 Hindi film by Ramesh Saigal. The movie was a fictional drama set in Singapore around the time the second INA was rising. The lead character of Shekhar, played by Ashok Kumar, is a young recruit to the INA.[79]
  • Indian, a 1996 Tamil film directed by S. Shankar. The plot describes one of the main character, Senapathy, as an ex-soldier in the INA.
  • Netaji: The Forgotten Hero, a 2004 movie by Shyam Benegal, traces the last five years of Subhas Chandra Bose, who was the Supreme Commander of the second INA and was instrumental in reorganising it. The film describes the story of the INA but focuses on its leader.[79] The film was also widely noted for A R Rahman's music.

In music, Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja..., the INA's marching song, has since become a famous patriotic song in India. Today, it is in use as the Regimental quickmarch of the Indian Army as well as its Para Regiments. The music was composed by Ram Singh Thakur, from whose composition was later derived the tune for India's national anthem Jana Gana Mana.

Other mentions of the INA in popular culture abound through India, including

See also


Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c d e Chaudhuri 1953, p. 349
  2. ^ a b c d e f Sarkar 1983, p. 411
  3. ^ a b c Sarkar 1983, p. 420
  4. ^ a b Fay 1993, p. 496,498,499
  5. ^ a b c Dignan 1983
  6. ^ Kaushik 1984
  7. ^ Brown 1986, p. 421
  8. ^ Lebra 1977, p. 19
  9. ^ Lebra 1977, p. 23
  10. ^ Lebra 1977, p. 24
  11. ^ Fay 1993, p. 94
  12. ^ Lebra 1977, p. 27
  13. ^ Tojo 1943
  14. ^ "Historical Journey of the Indian National Army". National Archives of Singapore. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  15. ^ Fay 1993, p. 525-6
  16. ^ Fay 1993, p. 556
  17. ^ Fay 1993, p. 263
  18. ^ Fay 1993, p. 297
  19. ^ a b Fay 1993, p. 317
  20. ^ Fay 1993, p. 318
  21. ^ Fay 1993, p. 292,298
  22. ^ Jayant Dasgupta Japanese in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Red Sun over Black Water (Delhi: Manas Publications) 2002 pp67, 87, 91-5; L.P. Mathur Kala Pani. History of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands with a study of India's Freedom Struggle (Delhi: Eastern Book Corporation) 1985 pp249-51
  23. ^ Fay 1993, p. 372-373
  24. ^ Fay 1993, p. 384
  25. ^ a b c Fay 1993, p. 436
  26. ^ Fay 1993, p. 459
  27. ^ Stephen P. Cohen "Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army" Pacific Affairs Vol. 36, No. 4 (Winter, 1963) pp 411-429
  28. ^ Childs 2000, p. 28
  29. ^ Menon, P. "The States". The Hindu. Retrieved 2007-09-03. 
  30. ^ "Taj Muhammad Khanzada. Legislators from Attock.". Provisional Assembly of The Punjab (Lahore-Pakistan). Govt of Pakistan. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  31. ^ Fay 1993, p. 410
  32. ^ a b Aldrich 2000, p. 163
  33. ^ Aldrich 2000, p. 159
  34. ^ Fay 1993, p. 289-292
  35. ^ Fay 1993, p. 316
  36. ^ Fay 1993, p. 332
  37. ^ Slim 1961, p. 425
  38. ^ Fay 1993, p. 333
  39. ^ Fay 1993, p. 290-292
  40. ^ Fay 1993, p. 290-293
  41. ^ Fay 1993, p. 138
  42. ^ "Many INA already executed.". Hindustan Times. November 2, 1945. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  43. ^ Chaudhuri 1953, p. 351
  44. ^ a b Sarkar 1983, p. 419
  45. ^ Fay 1993, p. 499
  46. ^ Fay 1993, p. 517
  47. ^ a b Sarkar 1983, p. 412
  48. ^ McMillan 2006, p. 155
  49. ^ a b Hyam 2007, p. 106
  50. ^ Green 1948, p. 54
  51. ^ Green 1948, p. 68
  52. ^ Bhat D. "RIN mutiny gave a jolt to the British". The Tribune. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  53. ^ a b Thomson M (2004-09-23). "Hitler's secret Indian Army". Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  54. ^ George MacDonald Fraser, Quartered Safe Out Here (1992): The Harvill Press. ISBN 0002726602
  55. ^ Fay 1993, p. 5
  56. ^ Fay 1993, p. 427
  57. ^ Fay 1993, p. 426
  58. ^ Fay 1993, p. 423-424,453
  59. ^ Fay 1993, p. 461-463
  60. ^ Cohen 1971, p. 132
  61. ^ Shaikh, Sajid. "INA's soldier lives in oblivion in Vadodara". Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  62. ^ Pratibha Chauhan. "INA hero gets shabby treatment.". Tribune News Service. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  63. ^ "Radhakrishnan met Netaji in Moscow, says witness.". Hindustan Times. November 17, 1970. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  64. ^ "Gandhi, others had agreed to hand over Netaji.". Hindustan Times. January 23, 1971. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  65. ^ Shahira Naim. "The Bose I knew is a memory now - Lakshmi Sahgal.". The Tribune. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  66. ^ Sumit Ganguly. "Explaining India’s Transition to Democracy.". Columbia University Press. Retrieved 2007-09-03. 
  67. ^ "Heritage Sites and Trails in Singapore". National Heritage Board of Singapore. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  68. ^ "On I-Day eve, India forgets INA memorial". Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  69. ^ Bavadam Lyla. "Art in miniature". Frontline, The Hindu Publishing group. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  70. ^ a b Bhaskaran, S.T.. "Footprints of history". The Hindu. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  71. ^ Healey, Beth. "Pastimes; Stamps". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  72. ^ a b c Urquhart, James. (August 7, 2000) The Independent Monday Book: A 'Doctor Zhivago' for the Far East - Review of The Glass Palace.
  73. ^ Fay 1993, p. ix
  74. ^ "Synopses The War of The Springing Tiger". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  75. ^ Dutt, Nirupama. "A forgotten army marches again". Indian Express. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  76. ^ "Historical Journey of the Indian National Army". National Archives of Singapore. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  77. ^ Das Sitanshu. "Indian National Army in East Asia". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2007-07-07. 
  78. ^ Bose 2006, p. 146
  79. ^ a b Dhawan, M.L.. "Freedom struggle through Hindi films". Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
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Further reading

  • The Springing Tiger:A study of a Revolutionary by Hugh Toye
  • Jungle alliance, Japan and the Indian National Army / Joyce C. Lebra, Singapore, Donald Moore for Asia Pacific Press,1971
  • Burma: The Forgotten War, Jon Latimer, London: John Murray, 2004. ISBN 978-0719565762
  • Japan's Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere in World War II: selected readings and documents / edited and introduced by Joyce C. Lebra, Kuala Lumpur; New York: Oxford University Press, 1975
  • Brothers Against the Raj --- A biography of Indian Nationalists Sarat and Subhas Chandra Bose / Leonard A. Gordon, Princeton University Press, 1990
  • A Concise History of India / Barbara D. Metcalf and Thomas R. Metcalf
  • A History of India / Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund
  • The Glass Palace / Amitav Ghosh, London: HarperCollins, 2001

External links

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