It was under Clement Atlee’s rule, that India gained Independence. In 1956, this former Premier of UK visited India. When his host, the then chief justice of Calcutta high court, P.N. Chakraborty sought his opinion about the role of Quit India movement in the British exit, Atlee wore a dismissing smile and replied, “minimal!”
Chakraborty then pressed for the real reason for the British exit. Atlee replied, ‘Royal Indian Naval Mutiny‘ and the ‘Royal Indian Airforce Mutiny’. In 1946, the Indian Navy, the then Royal Indian Navy mutinied against their British bosses. Furthermore, the Royal Indian Airforce followed suit. The British realized that their time was up in India since, Britain could not send in reinforcements, owing to the damage it underwent in WWII.
However, a more pertinent question might be, ‘Why did the Indian armed forces rebel?’ The answer lies in INA trials. This brings us to our series ‘The Forgotten Army- Azaadi ke liye’.
Sodhi visits his sister in Singapore, whose grandson Amar is a student of Journalism. Initially, Amar dislikes Sodhi. However, over time, he grows close to the latter, as he learns that the old man is a former military man from Indian National Army: the army of the great Netaji Bose. Around the time Sodhi visits Singapore, Myanmar is strife with riots. Amar is keen to cover those riots. This takes the Sodhi and Amar on a journey from Singapore to Myanmar to Imphal, the capital of Manipur; incidentally, the route taken by the INA in the 1940s.
Here the story oscillates between the past and present. Flashback to 1944, Singapore, a British colony, falls to the Japanese. The latter hack the British men royal forces mercilessly, incidentally beheading them, while hanging their heads on bridges. However, Indian men, including Sodhi, are spared according to a treaty between Japanese and Netaji. 50000 Indian prisoners of war form the Indian National Army. Moreover, the Indian diaspora of Singapore joins hands with INA, including women. The female regiment, also known as the famous Rani Jhansi regiment is lead by Lakshmi Swaminathan. Amongst the 100’s of women is a girl named Maya. Over time, Maya and Sodhi fall in love. The entire story revolves around this love story.
After some training, the army marches on foot towards India with a slogan ‘Chalo Dilli’. With the help of the Japanese, they march in Imphal, the capital of Manipur, via Burma. The capture of the British outpost in Imphal sends tremors across the British empire since this new development is unexpected, while the royal forces are busy with the world war II. Suddenly Netaji is the hero in India, while the congress systematically ignores his triumph. Nonetheless, the INA marches. However, as a twist in fate, Japan ends up losing WWII. Hence, INA loses its biggest ally. Furthermore, Netaji dies in plane crash(apparently). To add to their woes, monsoons of 1945, cuts their supplies and exposes them to the hazardous and infectious environment.
In the face of these adversities, the army moves on towards Kohima, even though they have an option to retreat to Burma. In retrospect, one might term this as foolhardy, but this fighting spirit enhanced INA’s respect amongst their fellows in the Navy and Air Force later on. Coming back to the plot, the INA is no match to the royal forces and faces a scathing defeat. This is followed by a capture of the remaining soldiers and their humiliating trials on the Red Fort, the infamous ‘INA Trials’
Firstly, the plot could have been devoid of a love story. But, since Indians like a love story, we can do with it. Nonetheless, the action is very well directed and resembles the warfare of those times. The performances are good, especially the protagonist Sunny Kaushal (young Sodhi). However, MK Raina(old Sodhi) steals the show with his theatrical skills. Overall a good, informative and entertaining series.
Why is it ‘The Forgotten Army’?
The story of INA is mentioned in every textbook of History. Everyone remembers the great Netaji. So why on the earth is the army forgotten? It is because we disowned the army. We tarnished their legacy.
After the Indian Independence, the soldiers of this army continue to be traitors in the eyes of the establishment. They were denied ranks, pensions and more importantly the respect they deserved. It is true that their name has not been forgotten, but their legacy has been. It is a shame that INA has a memorial in Singapore, while Indians have deemed them to be traitors. That is the greatest injustice meted out in modern India History.
Also Read: Series Review: Rise of the empires: Ottoman
Featured Image P.C: Amazon.com
P.C. INA Memorial pic