Five countries, 21 days and 6,000 kms sum up the Azad Hind Yatra, to mark 75 years of the Azad Hind Fauj, or the Indian National Army. The yatra will commence from July 3.
Came into existence in 1943, Singapore, the Azad Hind Fauj was formed to secure Independence from the British rule by allying with axis powers like Japan. It was inspired by the ideologies of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
The yatra has been jointly organised by city-based organisation Aamhi Punekar and businessman Nitin Shastri, who conceptualised it. “According to last year’s travel reports, more than 15 lakh Indian tourists visited Singapore. Out of which not even 500 people visited the memorial of Azad Hind Fauj, because no one is aware. Neither the textbooks in schools nor colleges talk about the contribution of the Azad Hind Fauj in the freedom struggle,” said
“What happened to Subhash Chandra Bose has always remained a mystery. The government never made any concrete statement on his death. He (Bose) is someone who went out of India and established an army to free his motherland. Our main aim of organising this yatra is to bring back the glory of Azad Hind Fauj,” he added.
On the yatra, Shastri said, “Nearly 150 participants are expected to join the yatra. During the journey, they would visit places and venues associated with Bose and Azad Hind Fauj, such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Bangkok, Yangon, Mandalay and Moirong, near Imphal. The yatra will conclude with a visit to Netaji Bhavan in Kolkata.”
“People are unaware about places, such as Netaji’s residence in Myanmar or the Azad Hind Fauj training centre in Tenang, which is five hours from Kuala Lumpur. People go to Kuala Lumpur and see Petronas Towers, KL Towers, but not these places, because they don’t know. Fortunately, these places are preserved and taken care of by the local government. So let’s go and visit these places too and refresh our memories,” he added.
It is not the first time that Shastri has become a part of such a journey. In 1999, after the Kargil War, he travelled from Mumbai to Jammu on a 100CC motorbike, during which he visited Drass and Kargil. In 2007, to mark 150 years of Indian Rebellion in 1857, he travelled to the battlefields of 1857 along with late historian Ninad Bedekar. In 2007, he went to Myanmar tracing the roots of Azad Hind Fauj.
The yatra, he said, also pays tribute to Malaysian, Thai and Burmese societies, which contributed a lot towards our freedom struggle during World War II. Throughout their fight, Azad Hind Fauj and Bose were supported by the people of Malaysia, Thailand and Burma.
“Through this, we also aim to express our gratitude to these societies who supported Indian cause,” he added.