Dr. Susmit Kumar, Ph.D.

 

This article is based on Chapter 40 of Dr Kumar’s forthcoming book Gandhi, an Obstacle for the Freedom of India, Brought Radical Mullahs into Mainstream Politics Which Finally Led to Partition of India.

 

Dr Kumar is posting this long article so that Prime Minister Modi can tell not only 130 crore Indians but entire world that it was Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army, not Gandhi and his Congress, who gave the independence to India. It will be the India’s biggest tribute to her greatest freedom fighter on his 125th Birth Anniversary on January 23rd.

 

[Note: “The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976” is based on British Government declassified documents and is frequently mentioned in this article]

 

Some of Chapters of forthcoming Dr. Kumar’s book can be accessed by following links:

 

Mahatma Gandhi Started the 1942 Quit India Movement Only Because He Feared that the Liberation of India by the Indian National Army, Created & Supported by Japan, Might Reduce Him to a Footnote in History (British Govt Archive)

 

Gandhi “Used” the Islamic Fundamentalist Votes to Capture Congress Party in 1920 and Became Its Dictator by Changing Its Constitution

 

In 1929 Gandhi “Adopted” Jawaharlal Nehru to Stop Himself Being Sidelined In Congress by Left-Wingers

 

Gandhi Collected Crores of Rupees by Claiming He Would Get Swaraj in One Year in 1921

 

Gandhi, Non-Cooperation Movement (Swaraj), Khilafat Movement and 1921 Malabar Riots

 

In this article, we will see that Britain decided to leave India in panic due to Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army and not because of Gandhi or Congress. Bose and his INA had insignificant effect on the battlefront. But they had a profound effect once the INA officers surrendered to the regular British Army in the Far East and also when they came back to India and the British Raj foolishly decided to court-marshal three INA officials at the Red Fort in Delhi.

 

Due to almost six decades of near continuous rule by and massive glorification of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, “court” historians of India have corrupted the country’s history. We had a similar example in Bihar state. During the fifteen-year rule of Laloo Yadav (and his wife) in Bihar, they introduced chapters in school texts, comparing Laloo Yadav to Lord Krishna and the messiah of social justice (“Paean is mightier,” India Today website, Sanjay Kumar Jha, July 12, 2004).

 

In his book Liberty or Death: India’s Journey to Independence and Division, Patrick French has correctly written (Liberty or Death: India Journey to Independence and Division, Patrick French, Flamingo, London, 1997, pp 17-8):

 

“The plaster Mahatma encapsulated in Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film Gandhi is plainly inaccurate. As Salman Rushdie has written: “To make Gandhi appeal to the Western market, he had to be sanctified and turned into Christ – and odd fate for a crafty Gujarati lawyer – and the history of one of the century’s greatest’s revolutions had to be mangled.’ The film leaves us with the message ‘that the best way to gain your freedom is to line up, unarmed, and march towards your oppressors and permit them to club you to the ground; if you do this for long enough, you will embarrass them into going away. There were innumerable reasons for the British quitting India, but embarrassment was not one of them. This version of events, though, appeals not only to the Western market, but also within India, where the Congress hold on power during the decades succeeding independence had made the portrayal of a blameless and beatific father of the nation politically useful.”

 

1. Let us first see what Gandhi ji and his Congress did in 1945 after the end of World War II

 

Since the onset of World War II, the Congress party had nothing to show for as they did not opt for any movement until 1942 and the 1942 Quit India Movement was suppressed within a few months. In October 1943, Page Croft, Under-Secretary of State for War in the Churchill Cabinet, wrote to Churchill, “The failure of Gandhi to rouse India against the King-Emperor is one of the happiest events of the war.” [i]

 

Hence Congress leaders had dug a hole for themselves. All its leaders were behind bars for three years. They came out of Ahmednagar Fort jail on June 15, 1945. On September 19, 1945, the British Raj announced elections which would be held in January 1946. As Congress party had nothing to show for, they were looking for something and they found the INA officers’ trial at Red Fort Delhi issue which they went for it. Congress leaders like Nehru and Patel started preaching violence by praising the INA in their speeches all over India. Gandhi wanted India to achieve independence through his non-violence doctrine and not through Patel and Nehru’s violence preaching. In fact, Nehru rebuked Gandhi in a Congress Working Committee meeting, held in October 1945, by stating at his face that he was a “Buddha” and that his non-violence and khaddar doctrines were out of date.[ii]

 

 

2. What Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army did in 1945 after the end of World War II

 

Due to the INA, the British Raj faced the threat of mutiny in Indian Army to a level which would have had surpassed the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. In 1921, the entire white population, including women, was only 156,000, which equates to approximately one European for every 1,500 Indians.[iii] Without the support of native sepoys in the Indian Army, Britain could not hold on India. If there would have been a mutiny in Indian Army and or large scale violent uprising, tens of thousands of Britishers would have been massacred within weeks.

 

After the World War II, the British Raj was not planning to leave India at all. In 1943 departing Viceroy Linlithgow told new Viceroy Lord Wavell that he did not believe that any real progress was possible while Gandhi lived and we [British] should have to continue responsibility for India for at least another 30 years. [iv] In March 1944, Viceroy Wavell was discussing about British hiring in future Indian Civil Service and the Indian Police as All-India services; and also, if they would be any major constitutional change in future. [v]

 

As per Lieut. Gen. Tuker, the Commander of the Eastern Command: [vi]

 

The Indian Civil Service has been spoken of as the steel structure of India's [British Raj] fabric. The Indian Army was the foundation on which that structure rested. With a sound army, India was safe; with a rotten army, she was ruined forever.

 

Subhas Chandra Bose was successful in ruining the foundation of the British Raj as the main idea behind his Indian National Army was following: [vii]

 

… we were not certain that Japanese were going to win the war, and our strategy depended upon a revolution in India. Our strategy was to build up units that would go and fight on Indian territory, persuade the British Indian troops to come over, and then touch off a revolution. We were confidence that once there was a revolution in the country, the combined forces of the revolutionaries and the INA would drive the British out. Then, even if the British won the war, they would not be able to come back.

 

In fact, as per Hugh Toye, a British Army intelligence officer who worked in India and Burma during World War II who wrote a biography of Subhas Chandra Bose, despite the Japanese defeat and impending INA surrender, Bose saw INA carrying the infection into the Indian Army, to loosen still further the British grasp and to deepen nationalist confidence. [viii]

 

The December 22, 1945 letter, part of which is copied below, General Claude Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, to Chief of Staff shows the reason why Britain suddenly decided to leave India in panic:

 

“If disturbances have started and Indian Armed Forces generally or in part have proved unreliable or actively hostile, situation is completely different. In this case British formations would be required to land at whatever port could be kept open and be prepared to fight their way inland to restore, protect and operate railway communications. They would, therefore, have to be accompanied by necessary technical units including railway operating units. Number and phasing of arrival of these formations would have to depend upon situation at this time and availability and condition of ports. In worst case with Indian Armed Forces generally actively hostile British formations might have to fight their way ashore as well as inland. No firm planning on such indeterminate data is practicable and most you can do is to hold in readiness such formations and technical units together with necessary air support as would be made available to meet whatever situation arises. No deception plan is required in this case.[ix]

 

DO YOU THINK THAT GANDHI’s NON-VIOLENCE WOULD HAVE CREATED THE MUTINY THREAT IN INDIAN ARMY AS DESCRIBED ABOVE??????

 

It is worth mentioning that by the end of December 1945, i.e., within few days of getting above letter, Britain decided to grant independence to India. As per a letter dated January 17, 1946 from the Secretary of State for India Lord Pethick-Lawrence to British Prime Minister Attlee, British Government had already made up its mind to send a Cabinet Mission, consisting of three Cabinet members, to discuss the transfer of powers from the British government to the Indian political leaders.[x] Therefore, top Indian politicians like Sardar Patel had come to know about it and because of this very reason, during the 1946 February Naval Mutiny in Bombay, Patel hurried to Bombay and went out to the ships in person to persuade the mutineers to surrender and even advised Nehru not to come there to further create the trouble. [xi]

 

It is worth noting that Britain decided to grant independence within just 4 months of the end of World War II because of fear of Indian Army mutiny and also of nationwide large-scale violence spear-headed by INA and soon-to-be demobilized 1.5 million Native Sepoys (as discussed later).

 

In an August 20, 1945 letter to the Secretary of State for India Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Viceroy Lord Wavell had predicted the event which would unfold: [xii]

 

This is the first occasion on which an anti-British politician [Subhas Chandra Bose] has acquired a hold over a substantial number of men in the Indian Army, and the consequences are quite incalculable.

 

Let us see how Subash Chandra Bose’s theory worked even though his INA failed on battlefield miserably.

 

Surrendered INA and Demobilization of Indian Army

 

The impact of the INA on the armed forces was considerable. The affect the loyalty of the soldiers of the Indian army was a part of the INA’s strategy. Bose stuck to this part of the strategy even after the defeat of the INA on the battle front. As per Shah Nawaz Khan, one of the three INA officers who faced trial at Red Fort in November 1945, Bose believed that the men of the INA on their return to India at the end of the war would affect the loyalty of the Indian ranks of the British army; he told his commanders in 1945 that the INA’s surrender to the INA army or its capture by the Allied forces would be a change of tactics in the INA’s fight for freedom. [xiii]

 

The nature of expansion of the three services of the Indian armed forces between the years 1939 and 1945 will be clear from the following figures of the personal strength. Table below shows the data at the onset of the World War II and at the end of World War II. The figures for Indian Army exclude Indian State Forces, auxiliary and irregular forces and British officers and other ranks.

 

 

October 1939

July 1945

Army

1,94,373

20,49,203

Navy

1,846

30,478

Airforce

285

29,201

Source: The Indian National Army: Second Front of the Indian Independence Movement, K. K. Ghosh, Meenakshi Prakashan, Meerut, India, 1969, pp 225-6.

 

Regarding the expansion of the Indian armed forces during the World War II, Lieut. Gen. Tuker wrote: [xiv]

 

The small regular cadre with which we started the war had recruited, expanded and trained up from a small Indian Army of 1,89,000 men almost entirely foot and horse, or varied races and languages, a great force of some 25,00,000 on a fully mechanized establishment from rear services to front line. This they had done in the short span of five years in a trying climate. Not only that – they had then led this army against the two most formidable military powers of the time, Germany and Japan, and had beaten them handsomely. This feat is probably the greatest military achievement of our race.

 

The vast expansion of the Indian armed forces during the war was significant for various reasons. It was now physically impossible to keep such a vast force completely seclude. Moreover, realizing that a loyal army was the mainstay of the British power in India, the recruitment to the pre-war Indian army was made strictly from certain classes. These classes believed to be untainted by the political consciousness and called the “martial classes”. With the large-scale expansion of the army during the war the martial classes proved inadequate to supply the total requirements of the army’s vast expansion. Recruitment had to be made from the sections of the population which had little association with the army before the war. Because of their urban and educational background, these sections were politically oriented. [xv]

 

After a short period of hurried training in India the recruits were sent for overseas service in the countries of Southeast Asia. The Indians in the British Indian army had seen the INA fighting and later on surrendering as a separate force and there were instances of perfect discipline and high morale to impress them. The Indians in the Indian army came into contact with the Indian community which had passed through a period of intensive national activities during the war. There was an unsettled period between the surrender of Japan and the effective occupation of Thailand, Malaya and Singapore by the Allied forces. During this period the leaders of the Indian Independence League (IIL) had not been arrested and under their direction an effective nationalist propaganda was carried out among the Indians ranks of the British Indian army. Speeches and photographs of Bose and small photo-albums containing photos of the INA were reprinted in large numbers and secretly distributed among the Indian ranks. These contacts with the INA and the Indian community were bound to leave their effect on the Indian troops in the British Indian army and more particularly on the vast majority of recent recruits. [xvi]

 

Describing how even after the disastrous failure at the battlefield, Bose’s INA succeeded in starting patriotism in the Indian Army [which in fact finally led to the threat of Mutiny in Indian Army and nation-wide violent unrest causing the Britain to leave India in a hurry], Hugh Toye [a British Army intelligence officer] wrote the following: [xvii]

 

The mass surrenders by the INA in Rangoon, Singapore and Bangkok when the war ended presented problem for the Britain… Over ten thousand INA soldiers were repatriated from Rangoon between May and October 1945. In September a further seven thousand surrendered in Malaya and Bangkok. The evacuation of many thousands of Allied prisoners from their fearful camps was the first call on shipping and it was not until March 1946 that the last of the INA left South-East Asia for home. This had certain consequences. In the eleventh months which had then elapsed since the first of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force with the mass of the INA in Rangoon, there had been wide-spread fraternization. This could not be avoided – all were Indian serving in a foreign country, and contact with the INA often meant the reunion of close relatives separated since 1941. Its result was a political consciousness which the Indian Servicemen had never before possessed. He saw it as a band of oppressed heroes and listened eagerly to the hospitable and now fully politically conscious Indian civilians of South-East Asia, who had their own tale to tell about an independent Indian Government [Azad Hind Government of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, based in Singapore, which was functional between October 1943 and August 1945] and the departed glories of Bose’s Cabinet. Indian soldiers who had seen the truth about the INA at Imphal were fast leaving the Army and there was often no voice to contradict the stories of universal INA heroism in battle. Thus gradually the Indian Services came to have a certain sympathy with the popular clamour about the INA which was being raised in India, and there can be little doubt that the serious naval mutinies and the unrest in the other two Services early in 1946, owed something to its influence. The British Prime Minister himself was compelled to recognize the new feeling. ‘Today,’ said Mr. Attlee on March 15th 1946, ‘the national idea has spread … not least perhaps among some of those soldiers who have done such wonderful service in the war’. [bold is by the author]

 

At the end of the war, the loyalty of the Indian men and officers in the British Indian army was subjected to a great strain. The Government of India had adopted a plan to demobilize by April 1947 the major part of the armed forces, in all 15,53,167 men from the three Services. This plan of swift and substantial reduction of the strength reduction of the strength of all the services created a sense of tremendous insecurity among the Indian ranks with the consequent unsettling effect on their loyalty to the superior authorities. On the other hand, it was apparent to the former that the image of the Indian army in the Indian mind was hardly favorable. It was viewed, in fact, as an instrument of the British imperialism to keep India and other Asiatic countries in subjugation. They saw how readily the country came out to defend it. In the light of their newly acquired political consciousness, these events were bound to react on the minds of the Indians in the British Indian army. Were they on the right side in the tussle between the nationalists and the ruling government? Such a doubt was likely to rise in the mind of the Indian men and officers because, in the hey-day of the INA’s popularity they had come under a popular stricture. It, however, they wanted to clear themselves of the popular suspicion, the issue of the INA officers’ trial, on which the nationalist sentiment of the country and the ruling authorities were sharply divided, offered them an opportunity. [xviii]

 

With the approach of the first INA officers’ trial the pro-INA sentiment of the Indian section of the armed forces and its dislike for the Government policy towards the INA began to get expression. The Royal Indian Air Force (R.I.A.F.) stationed at Calcutta openly came out against the court martial of the INA officers. During the first INA officers’ trial, which started on November 5, 1945, they sent their subscription ‘for the defense of brave and patriotic sons of India forming the INA.” In a message to the Bengal Congress Committee, the R.I.A.F. not only praised “the noble ideal” of the INA but described the method adopted by the latter as “commendable and inspiring”. The R.I.A.F. recorded that “strongest protest against the autocratic action of the Government of India, in effect, that of British Government in trying by court martial these brightest jewels of India. [xix]

 

 

Pro-INA Section Within Indian Army

 

The Indian authorities were concerned about the effect of the glorification of the INA by the nationalists on the morale of the Indian section in the Indian army. On January 1, 1946, the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian army issued a confidential note to all the commanding officers of the three wings of the Indian Armed Forces warning them that the “months ahead … will inevitably be a period of strain and upheaval”. Some measures were also taken to counter the nationalists propaganda. In spite of these cautions, many secret decisions of the army authorities regarding the INA officers were divulged to the public during 1946. Lieut. Gen. Tuker, the Commander of the Eastern Command, mentioned one such incident in his command which was “the beginning of many exposures of secret military information” about the INA. These events caused grave concern in the army authorities as these exposures clearly suggested where exactly lay the sympathy of responsible Indian officers in the army headquarters. “It was alarming for the future,” wrote Tuker, “for the only person who could have got at them was some Indian officer employed on the staff”. The account of Tuker suggests a grim picture. He wrote: “… the INA affair was … threatening to tumble down the whole edifice of the Indian Army … Tucker, however, did not quote any figure regarding the strength of the pro-INA section in the Indian army.[xx]

 

An attempt can, however, be made to find out the approximate strength of the pro-INA section among the Indian officers, Lieut. Gen. Tuker, in his narrative of the post-war events in India, analyzed the attitude of the different sections of the Indian officers towards the INA. According to him, the Indian officers recruited prior to 1939, the Sandhurst graduates due to their education in English public schools and close contact with the English way of living, “held precisely the same view as the British officer”. To the graduates of the Indian Military Academy, because of their too little contact with the British outside the academy, “the INA were patriots and much to be praised”. The war-time recruits, because of their political consciousness, were of the view that the accused INA officers were “patriots and to be treated leniently…”[xxi] Before the establishment of the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun in 1932, only 20 seats were reserved for the Indians in the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, UK.

 

The numerical strength of the different categories of officers would roughly indicate the strength of the pro-INA section in the whole army. The strength of the Indian officers in the combatant sections of the Indian army in October 1939 was 396. Of these, the larger number were the products of the Indian Military Academy. But the overwhelming majority of the Indian officers in 1946 were recruited during the war and their strength was 7,604. Assuming that Tuker’s analysis of the attitude of the different sections of the Indian officers towards the INA was correct, approximately seventy-six out of every eighty Indian officers were opposed to the prosecution of the INA officers in 1945. If the pro-INA group among pre-war officers are taken into account, the number of Indian officers who were opposed to the Government’s INA policy would be more than seventy-six out of every group of eighty. [xxii]

 

The senior British officers of the Indian army underestimated the strength of the Indian officers who were sympathetic to the INA. Thanks to the findings to the “Special Organization” which was set up in the Indian army headquarters to probe into real feelings of the Indian men and officers towards the INA officers, the C-in-C made a realistic assessment of the attitude of the Indian officers. On November 26, 1945, he communicated to the Viceroy: “I do not think any senior British officer today knows what is the real feeling among the Indian ranks regarding the INA. … there is a growing feeling of sympathy for the INA and an increasing tendency to disregard the brutalities committed by some of its members as well as the foreswearing by all of them of original allegiance.” [xxiii]

 

A biographer of Gandhiji wrote in early 1946: “There was hardly a day, when a group of Indian morning walks, they were at his evening prayer gatherings. ‘We are soldiers’, they said apologetically and added, ‘but we are soldiers of Indian freedom’. The same feeling was expressed by the Indian officer representing the Indian army in the Indian Central Assembly, Col. Himmat Singhji. Referring to the attitude of the Indian soldiers he said: “I can tell you here that every officer and man is just as anxious for the freedom of this country as you in this House or outside”. [xxiv]

 

On August 23, 1945 in an internal Home Department letter from Sir F. Mudie, an ICS, wrote following to Sir E. Jenkins, an ICS and Private Secretary to Viceroy Wavell, on the immense influence of Bose on the INA: [xxv]

 

Bose’s influence over the I.N.A. is very considerable. It extends to the great bulk of the 12,000 I.N.A., both soldiers and civilians, already in our hands and probably to an even higher percentage of the estimated 15,000 still to be recovered. It affects all races, castes and communities almost equally strongly. They regard him with deep admiration, respect and confidence as a sincere patriot, as an able leader without peer among the overseas Indian community, as the organiser of India’s first “National Army”, as the protector of his countrymen under Japanese occupation, and as one who successfully dealt with the Japanese and was accorded by them greater respect and power than most other leaders in the same position. All this is in addition to his already great prestige as an Indian nationalist figure in his own country.

 

 

Response of Natives in Indian Army of INA Trial

 

The response of the armed forces was unexpectedly sympathetic, belying the official perception that loyal soldiers were very hostile to the INA ‘traitor.’ Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) men in Kohat attended Shah Nawaz’s meetings and army men in U.P. and Punjab attended INA meetings, often in uniform. RIAF men in Calcutta, Kohat, Allahabad, Bamrauli and Kanpur contributed money for the INA defense, as did other service personnel in U.P. Apart from these instances of overt support, a ‘growing feeling of sympathy for the INA’ pervaded the Indian army, according to the Commander-in-Chief. He concluded that the ‘general opinion in the Army is in favor of leniency’ and recommended to Whitehall that leniency be shown by the Government. [xxvi]

 

To Viceroy Wavell’s astonishment, Indians in the armed forces were also sympathetic to the INA ‘traitors’. Soldiers and airmen, often in uniform, attended INA support meetings and contributed money to the defence fund. By late November, Auchinleck, who was being kept informed daily of the effects of the trials on army personnel, was reporting to Wavell that ‘the general opinion in the Army (as opposed to that of certain units who have particular reason for bitterness) is in favour of leniency’. Many British officers disagreed with him. General Sir Geoffrey Scoones, GOC-in-C Central Command, wrote a stiff letter to Auchinleck saying: ‘Leniency will not attain our immediate objective . . . We may be blamed for lack of moral courage . . . and the armed forces will get confused’. Others, such as Major C.W. Cockin, said they believed it was wrong for British officers to judge the INA men’s conduct, and that the trials should be put into cold storage until an Indian government was formed. This was precisely what most Indian officers thought, and there were now far more of them than there were British officers, whose numbers had shrunk to less than 4,000 from a pre-war figure of 11,000. [xxvii]

 

 

Apprehension of Viceroy and Governors of Indian Army Mutiny

 

In an October 22, 1945 letter to the Secretary of State for India, Viceroy Wavell showed his apprehension about Congress using INA and Indian Army for overthrowing the British Raj:

 

... They [the Congress] will compare Bose’s Government to the Governments of the Occupied European countries in the U.K. during the war, and the I.N.A. to de Gaulle’s Free French. It sounds absurd but they are already putting this across with a considerable part of the Public; and events in Indonesia are being used to help them in their picture…. The interest of the Congress leaders in the I.N.A. seems to be connected with a general interest in the armed forces, which was evident even at the Simla Conference. This effort of Congress to suborn the Army is likely to be the most dangerous development of the near future. In his talk with me before the Conference Azad said that one of the main desires of the Party was that the Indian Army should become a truly national organization to which the public, and presumably the political leaders, could have free access. Azad has recently made a statement deploring the fact that members of the armed forces are not enfranchised as such, and there is no doubt that the Congress party wish to establish influence over people who are capable of fighting. Nehru’s interest in the I.N.A. is almost certainly connected with some idea of this kind. He has just spent a day or two in Delhi and interviewed the three I.N.A. officers who are to be tried first. [xxviii]

 

In a November 10, 1945 letter to Viceroy Wavell, Sir H. Twyanm, Governor of Central Provinces and Berar, wrote:

 

“References to the mutiny continue to be frequent: a leading local Congressman … has stated that the police and Indian troops will refuse to fire on unarmed mobs; other speakers have said that Indian troops in Malaya were deserted by their British officers and hence INA came into existence; Our late Chief Minister (R.S. Shukla) was received by some 6,000 persons at a place in Raipur district and at a meeting of several hundred he announced that Congress had “no intention of forgetting or forgiving wrongs”. In short, every effort is being made to prepare a mass mentality in support of another violent struggle. Gandhi’s continued silence furnishes no encouragement to moderate Congressmen and attention is drawn to the almost total absence of reference to him in the present approach to the masses. It is indeed suggested that Subhas Chandra Bose is rapidly usurping the place held by Gandhi in popular esteem and doubtless some of Subhas’ “glory” devolves on his brother Sarat. [bold is by the author]” [xxix]

 

In a November 26, 1945 letter to Viceroy Wavell, Sir H. Twyanm, Governor of Central Provinces and Berar, wrote:

 

“[as per a local Congressman] if any I.N.A. men are executed 20 patriots will arise and that the atrocities committed by the British surpassed the horrors of the Belsen Concentration Camp. I am having his speech examined with a view to a possible prosecution under the ordinary law. At Jubbulpore when a speaker said that the I.N.A. was the army of Congress and asked who would join, all raised their hands. From the same source it is reported that Congress is jubilant at the mistake made by Government in trying the I.N.A. men at Delhi. Congressmen consider that this has given them a chance to win the support of the Indian Army. I am bound to say that I do feel some uneasiness as to the attitude which Indian troops may adopt if called upon to fire on mobs. The disposition towards a sudden change of attitude in a tense political atmosphere is present now, I think, as it was in the days of the [1857] mutiny. I have recently been reading some of the original reports printed in select State Documents and extremely interesting they are. It is extraordinary how Units which were thought to be perfectly loyal suddenly decided to throw in their lot with the mutineers. … the possibility of the Province being completely denuded of British troops. [bold is by the author]” [xxx]

 

“… At present, in this province, I have 3 European Commissioners, 5 Deputy Commissioners, no Session Judges, no Assistant Commissioners and 7 Deputy Superintendent of Police. Altogether I have available 17 European ICS officers, including 7 Judicial officers, and 19 European members of Indian Police. These figures exclude people serving in the Government of India but include people on leave. This handful of Europeans has to deal with a population of 18 or more millions over an area of 100,000 square miles. It will be readily appreciated how difficult it will be for the administration if the present “hymn of hate” leads to the retirement of any substantial proportion of this handful of officers. [bold is by the author]” [xxxi]

 

As per Viceroy Wavell’s December 22, 1945 diary entry: [xxxii]

 

At present Government can probably count on the support of the officials, Police and Army, in a conflict with Congress, though there might be some defection amongst the junior officials and perhaps junior police officials. It would certainly not be wise to try the Indian Army too highly in the suppression of their own people. As time goes on, the loyalty of Indian officials, the Indian Army and the police might become problematic. A large number of British officials will probably take the first opportunity to retire.

 

As per Commander-in-Chief General Auchinleck letter to Chiefs of Staff on December 22, 1945:

 

“…the bulk of the Indian Armed Forces remain reliable but that there is widespread civil disturbance throughout the country in both industrial and rural districts. … Indian officers who are mostly Nationalists are spread throughout the Indian Armed Forces except in Gurkha units. Similarly, the large numbers of better educated and politically conscious men referred to in my appreciation are spread throughout the technical and administrative branches of all three services and comprise men of all castes and creeds. … Congress praise of men of so called Indian National Army as true patriots and extravagant anti- Government abuse are reaching men through civilian contacts if not also directly. Almost all units wherever stationed in India report that men are becoming aware of this propaganda. The uneducated and ignorant are bewildered or at best indifferent. The more intelligent are beginning to wonder where their interests lie. So far there are no repeat no real indications that troops intend to abandon their allegiance to Government or would disobey orders given by their officers. If however morale were to deteriorate gravely owing to continued propaganda and some units mutinied news would spread rapidly and mutiny might become general even if in some cases half-hearted.” [xxxiii]

 

 

Threat of Violent Nationwide Uprising Surpassing the 1942 Quit India Movement Uprising

 

Apart from the threat of mutiny in Indian Army, the British Raj was also afraid of use the soon to be 1.5 million demobilized army men, who already knew how to the use arms and armaments. Using them the Congress party could create large-scale violence against the administration which would surpass the violence created by the Congress Socialist Party led by Jayaprakash Narayan in Bihar and United Provinces during the 1942 Quit India Movement, paralyzing the railways and the administration for couple of months and in some places, the administration had to use gunship from airplane to control the violence. As per the intelligence sources, Congress had plans to smuggle large quantities of arms from Burma front and to make use of the INA. [xxxiv]

 

Regarding the violent activities of Congressmen during the 1942 Quit India Movement, Horse Alexander, an American friend of Gandhi and Padma Bhushan award winner, said: [xxxv]

 

A section of younger Congressmen, some of whom were impatient with Gandhi’s delays and hesitations’, tried to procure arms and actually set bomb factories in several places.

 

It was alleged by the Government that the wife of a member of the Working Committee of the Congress was actively engaged in planning “the bomb outrages and other acts of terrorism”. This shows how narrow was the gap between the mentality of the professed revolutionaries and that even important members of the Congress. The same thing is proved by the following instructions issued by Jayaprakash Narayan when he took up the leadership of the 1942 movement after escaping from prison: [xxxvi]

 

Dislocation is an infallible weapon for people under slavery and subjection and with which he has all along fought against the ruling power. To efface all such instruments as have been devised and adopted by rulers for keeping people in bondage and fleecing them, to dismantle all tools and machineries, to render ineffective all means of communications to reduce buildings and godowns to ashes, - all these come under dislocation. So cutting wires, removing of railway lines, blowing up of bridges, stoppage of Factory work, setting fire to oil tanks as also to thanas [police stations], destruction to Government papers and files – all such activities come under dislocation and it is perfectly right for people to carry out these…

 

The INA trial resulted in nothing but disloyalty among the Indian sepoys in the Indian army. In a November 6, 1945 letter to the Secretary of State for India Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Viceroy Lord Wavell wrote: [xxxvii]

 

In recent letters and telegrams, I have mentioned my concern at the sudden rapid deterioration in the political situation [bold is by the author] …the Congress are counting on the I.N.A. as the spear-head of their revolt; they would suborn the Indian Army if they could, and they hope that their threats will impair the loyalty and efficiency of the Police.

 

 

Deliberate Attempt by Nehru and Others to Defame Bose

 

After Bose surpassed Gandhi’s popularity by defeating the latter’s nominee Pattabhi Sitaramayya in the 1939 Congress Party Presidential elections, which led to Gandhi to force Bose out of Congress by manipulation with his puppets, thereafter Congress leaders made several false allegations against Bose, which were not true, just to defame him. One major allegation by Congress leaders against Bose was that Bose praised Hitler’s Nazi policies and Mussolini’s Fascist policies. But this was not true at all. Bose never praised Hitler’s Nazi party policies or Mussolini’s Fascist Party policies. He only wanted their help in liberating his beloved motherland India. He first went to Hitler and when he declined to provide help, he went to Japan where he got the desired help, but it was too late as the US had already entered the World War II and due to its vast manpower and resources, US was able to defeat Japan before Bose and his INA could prepare itself properly to invade India to liberate the country.

 

Hugh Toye was a British Army intelligence officer who worked in India and Burma during World War II. Working in the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (India), Toye was tasked with interrogation of captured troops of the Japanese army and the Indian National Army. Toye's work recording the history of the INA, The Springing Tiger published in 1959, was one of the first authoritative histories on the army penned by a western scholar. It was he who wrote following about Bose:

 

Bose’ model was the Turkish regime of Mustapha Kemal who seemed to have faced the same problems of social adaption that confronted India, and not the Nazi or Fascist caricatures. Bose saw a strong Congress Government settling down to the accomplishment of a great social and industrial revolution in India and then handing over, after perhaps twenty years, to the processes of democracy. [xxxviii]

 

 

Conclusion

 

Without loyal sepoys (low-ranking Indian soldiers) it was quite impossible for British to rule India as it could not have brought enough English men to India to quell any serious nationalist movement. It is worth noting that Britain was able to suppress the Indian Rebellion of 1857, called India's First War of Independence, mainly because of the support of the Sikhs and Pathans. The Sikh princes backed the British by providing soldiers and support, but the large princely states of Hyderabad, Mysore, Travancore, and Kashmir, as well as the smaller ones of Rajputana, did not join the rebellion. In 1857, the British Bengal Army had 86,000 men, of which 12,000 were European and 16,000 Sikhs. The Sikhs and Pathans of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province helped the British in the recapture of Delhi. Had they not supported the British at that time, Britain would have had to leave India in 1857.

 

It was British prime minister Clement Attlee who, at the time of granting independence to India, said that Gandhi’s non-violence movement had next to zero effect on the British. Chief Justice P.B. Chakrabarty of the Kolkata High Court, who served as acting governor of West Bengal, disclosed the following in a letter addressed to the publisher of Ramesh Chandra Majumdar’s book A History of Bengal:[xxxix]

 

You have fulfilled a noble task by persuading Dr. Majumdar to write this history of Bengal and publishing it … In the preface of the book Dr. Majumdar has written that he could not accept the thesis that Indian independence was brought about solely, or predominantly by the non-violent civil disobedience movement of Gandhi. When I was the acting Governor, Lord Atlee, who had given us independence by withdrawing the British rule from India, spent two days in the Governor’s palace at Calcutta during his tour of India. At that time I had a prolonged discussion with him regarding the real factors that had led the British to quit India. My direct question to him was that since Gandhi’s “Quit India” movement had tapered off quite some time ago and in 1947 no such new compelling situation had arisen that would necessitate a hasty British departure, why did they have to leave? In his reply Atlee cited several reasons, the principal among them being the erosion of loyalty to the British Crown among the Indian army and navy personnel as a result of the military activities of Netaji [Subhash Chandra Bose]. Toward the end of our discussion I asked Atlee what was the extent of Gandhi’s influence upon the British decision to quit India. Hearing this question, Attlee's lips became twisted in a sarcastic smile as he slowly chewed out the word, “m-i-n-i-m-a-l!”. [bold is of the author]

The British “used” Mahatma Gandhi to their capacity to delay India’s independence. Today, Indians and people in the world, educated and uneducated alike, do not really know “Gandhi” due to the massive propaganda by the British Empire. The Gandhi propaganda made him into a mass leader, both at home and abroad. Gandhi himself was playing the game as per the rules set by the British. The only exception was the 1942 Quit India Movement, due to reasons stated above. The Gandhi propaganda was continued by the “court” historians of the Gandhi-Nehru family which ruled and impacted India for 60+ years following the independence of India. In reality, it was Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army, which although failed on battlefield, gave the independence to India within few months after it surrendered to the British Indian Army, creating a panic of both threat of mutiny in Indian Army as well as large scale nationwide violence by the soon-to-be demobilized 1.5 million army personnel.



[i] Liberty or Death: India Journey to Independence and Division, Patrick French, Flamingo, London, 1997, p 178.

[ii] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, p 393.

[iii] India 1885-1947, The Unmaking of an Empire, Ian Coplan, Longman, UK, 2001, p 3

[iv] Wavell The Viceroy’s Journal, Edited by Penderel Moon, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1977, p 33.

[v] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, p 310.

[vi] While Memory Serves, Lieut.-General Sir Francis Tuker, Cassell, 1950, p. 50.

[vii] The Forgotten Army: India’s Armed Struggle for Independence 1942-45, Peter Ward Fay, The University of Michigan Press, Michigan, Ann Arbor, US, First Paperback Edition 1995, p 139.

[viii] The Springing Tiger; A Study of A Revolutionary, Huge Toye, Jaico Publishing House, Bombay, 1978, p. 180.

[ix] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, p 676.

[x] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, pp 809-10.

[xi] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, pp 1079-84.

[xii] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, p 107.

[xiii] The Indian National Army: Second Front of the Indian Independence Movement, K. K. Ghosh, Meenakshi Prakashan, Meerut, India, 1969, p 224.

[xiv] While Memory Serves, Lieut.-General Sir Francis Tuker, Cassell, 1950, pp. 58-9

[xv] The Indian National Army: Second Front of the Indian Independence Movement, K. K. Ghosh, Meenakshi Prakashan, Meerut, India, 1969, pp 225-6.

[xvi] The Indian National Army: Second Front of the Indian Independence Movement, K. K. Ghosh, Meenakshi Prakashan, Meerut, India, 1969, pp 226-7.

[xvii] The Springing Tiger; A Study of A Revolutionary, Huge Toye, Jaico Publishing House, Bombay, 1978, pp. 170-1.

[xviii] The Indian National Army: Second Front of the Indian Independence Movement, K. K. Ghosh, Meenakshi Prakashan, Meerut, India, 1969, pp 227-8.

[xix] The Indian National Army: Second Front of the Indian Independence Movement, K. K. Ghosh, Meenakshi Prakashan, Meerut, India, 1969, p 229.

[xx] The Indian National Army: Second Front of the Indian Independence Movement, K. K. Ghosh, Meenakshi Prakashan, Meerut, India, 1969, pp 229-30.

[xxi] The Indian National Army: Second Front of the Indian Independence Movement, K. K. Ghosh, Meenakshi Prakashan, Meerut, India, 1969, pp 230-1; While Memory Serves, Lieut.-General Sir Francis Tuker, Cassell, 1950, pp. 50-1

[xxii] The Indian National Army: Second Front of the Indian Independence Movement, K. K. Ghosh, Meenakshi Prakashan, Meerut, India, 1969, p 231.

[xxiii] The Indian National Army: Second Front of the Indian Independence Movement, K. K. Ghosh, Meenakshi Prakashan, Meerut, India, 1969, pp 231-2.

[xxiv] The Indian National Army: Second Front of the Indian Independence Movement, K. K. Ghosh, Meenakshi Prakashan, Meerut, India, 1969, pp 228-9.

[xxv] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, p 138.

[xxvi] India’s Struggle for Independence, Bipin Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee, Aditya Mukherjee, Sucheta Mahajan and K.N. Panikkar, Penguin Books, New Delhi, India, 1989 (First published in 1987), p 478.

[xxvii] The Proudest Day: India’s Long Road to Independence, Anthony Read and David Fisher, W.W. Norton & Co., New York, First American Ed 1998, p 366.

[xxviii] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, pp 375-6.

[xxix] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, p 469.

[xxx] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, pp 542-3

[xxxi] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, p 543

[xxxii] Wavell The Viceroy’s Journal, Edited by Penderel Moon, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1977, p 197.

[xxxiii] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, pp 673-4.

[xxxiv] The Forgotten Army: India’s Armed Struggle for Independence 1942-45, Peter Ward Fay, The University of Michigan Press, Michigan, Ann Arbor, US, First Paperback Edition 1995, p 453 and reference therein.

[xxxv] History of Freedom Movements in India, Volume III, R C Majumdar, Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, Calcutta, 1962, p. 667.

[xxxvi] History of Freedom Movements in India, Volume III, R C Majumdar, Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, Calcutta, 1962, p. 667.

[xxxvii] The Transfer of Power 1942-7, Vol. VI The Post-War Phase: New Moves by the Labour Government 1 August 1945-22 March 1946, by Nicholas Mansergh and Penderel Moon, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1976, p 450-2.

[xxxviii] The Springing Tiger; A Study of A Revolutionary, Huge Toye, Jaico Publishing House, Bombay, 1978, p. 179.

[xxxix] Subhas Chandra Bose, The Indian National Army, and The War of India’s Liberation, Ranjan Borra, Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 20 (2001), No. 1, reference 46