The Web series ‘The Forgotten Army: Azadi Ke Liye’ that started streaming on Amazon Prime on Friday (January 24) is based on the stories of the men and women who fought in Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA).
INA in Singapore
The INA was formed in Singapore in 1942 under the leadership of Subhas Chandra Bose. At the behest of their Japanese captors, over 20,000 Indian prisoners of war came together to form this army with the aim of freeing India from British colonial rule. Even after Bose’s disappearance in 1945, INA grew in strength and received significant support from civilian Indians in Malaya.
Singapore during WWI
Anticipating a threat from Japan, the British started building their defences in Singapore. They built a naval base in Sembawang to fend off possible naval attacks. Singapore was hyped as the “Gibraltar of the East” and a “fortress”, which was “impregnable” suggesting that it was next to impossible to conquer the island.
The Battle of Singapore was fought between February 8 and February 15, 1942, between the Allied and the Japanese forces. After about a week of fighting, Britain surrendered Singapore to the Japanese forces, which were under the command of Lieutenant General Tomoyuki Yamashita.
The INA’s role
According to the National Archives of Singapore, two days after the fall of Singapore, on February 17, 1942, over 45,000 Indian prisoners of war were handed over by the British to the Japanese forces
The Japanese pledged their support for India’s independence, following which, Mohan Singh who was a captain in the 1/14th Punjab Regiment in the British Army, called upon Indians to form an army to free India. Hence the INA was formed.
Subsequently, on July 9, 1943, while speaking in Padang, Indonesia, Bose said, “… I want … a unit of brave Indian women to form a death-defying Regiment who will wield the sword which Rani of Jhansi wielded in India’s First War of Independence in 1857.” On July 12, 1943, Bose announced the formation of the Women’s Regiment of the INA and named it the Rani of Jhansi Regiment after Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi.
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