Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

Road to Delhi, Reportage of a Meeting

Reiterating his firm conviction that the INA would achieve final victory and that neither the Americans nor the British could recapture any of their important possessions in East Asia, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Head of the provisional Government of Azad Hind, exhorted Indians in East Asia to intensify their efforts in the war of Indian independence and be prepared to make the maximum sacrifice in men, money, and material for this purpose, at the mass rally held at the Rani of Jhansi Regiment parading here yesterday evening.

A gathering estimated at well over 25,000 attended the rally which was held in celebration of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind Day and at which Netaji gave a survey of the world war situation with special reference to the Indian independence movement. At the close of the rally Netaji announced that since his arrival in Syonan a sum of Rs 53,000 has been collected through the efforts of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment. Immediately after the meeting numerous individual subscribers handed donations to Netaji and also took the opportunity to show their affection and esteem to him by garlanding him and presenting him with bouquets.

Addressing the large crowds, Netaji said that the war could be divided into three phases. During the first phase the Axis powers, such as Germany and Nippon, took the initiative in offensive warfare and obtained great successes. During the second phase the anti-Axis powers, such as America, Britain and Soviet Russia, assumed the offensive and gained certain victories. The third phase of the war was being fought at the moment, victories being shared by both parties—especially by Nippon in the Pacific waters in the battles of Taiwan and Philippines.

“I cannot say when the war would end but I think it might go on for a prolonged period in view of the fact that the combatants on both sides happen to be strong. Since the outbreak of the war the British troops had fared very badly and in fact they have had a succession of defeatsin Europe as well as in East Asia.

Had it not been for the participation of the Americans in Africa the British would have had another inglorious retreat even in the continent," went on Netaji. One might safely say that the British had not obtained any success at all on any front and he would like to emphasize this point as it had an important bearing on the Indian independence fight against the British in India. It should not be forgotten that even in the 1914 war the British didnot obtain any successes until the landing of the American forces in Europe. The Americans were cheated out of their rights last time but this time they have been taking pretty good care. Supposing the Anglo-Americans won, the Americans would do everything possible to spread their influence in all British possessions. At the present moment, the British forces were fighting under American commanders in all fronts and this went to show that the British prestige and influence had gone down so much and that they were fighting in spite of American insults just to save themselves. In racing parlance the position of Britain at the end of this war could be described as ‘also ran’.”

The Americans had been carrying on a lot of propaganda about the strength of their production capacity but it seemed to him that things were going on against their anticipations. With the heavy losses suffered by them in the Pacific waters very recently, things were becoming critical to them and it seemed that they were carrying on the war with an eye to finish it as early as possible. They had suffered colossal losses in men and materials and it seemed that they now found it difficult to continue the manufacture of war materials at such a high level to replace the losses.

The British propagandists had been telling sometime ago that war would end either in September, or October or December. Contrary to this Churchill was telling the other day that the war might finish by June or July next, while the Americans now said that the war would go on for another year. The object of the British in carrying on this kind of propaganda was to keep up the fighting morale of their soldiers.

Turning to the position of Germany and Nippon, Netaji said that their position was more reassuring in that, with the beginning of the third phase of the war, the Germans and the Nipponese had started their offensive in right earnest and had been gaining victories. At the same time Germany and Nippon had mobilised all their resources lately and in both countries the people were doing their utmost to help to win final victory. He was quite confident, said Netaji, that Germany and Nippon would achieve final victory in this war.

Supposing the Germans were defeated, it appeared to him that the whole of Europe would come under the influence of Soviet Russia. Whatever happened in Europe, Netaji said, it would not affect the Indian Independence Movement. It was true that the British propagandists had been telling all along that when they defeat Germany they would remove all their forces to East Asia and recapture all their lost territories. These things were easily said than done.

In East Asia Nippon stood grimly determined to fight the war till final victory was achieved. During his recent visit to Tokyo, Netaji said, he had noticed this spirit all round and he found thatthe entire Nippon nation stood as one man in wresting final victory.

At a juncture like this it was the duty of Indians in East Asia to redouble their efforts to continue their struggle to liberate the 38 million of their brethren who were groaning under Britishrepression. "Our only path today," said Netaji “is the path to Delhi and we must all be prepared to make the maximum sacrifice or else, we must remain slaves for ever." Those Indians who continued with their pro-British propaganda must be got rid of. They could go to the places where the British prisoners are being kept and they are not wanted in our midst. Those Indians who remained in the movement and who did such propaganda are traitors to India. He also knew, added Netaji, there, were a certain number in their midst who did this propaganda solely out of reluctance to pay any money to the movement.

"Those who want freedom must be prepared for total mobilisation" declared Netaji. "More volunteers are needed to the Azad Hind Fauj and the Rani of Jhansi Regiment," and he hoped they would come forward in large numbers.

In announcing the collections received here since his arrival, Netaji said that he felt ashamed to say that no millionaire Indian in Malaya had come forward and offered his millions for the liberation of his motherland. He reminded them of the great example set by Habib and hoped that at least a few Indians in Malaya would emulate his example.

Netaji added: “Even if the three million Indians in East Asia became paupers, we do not mind it, if we can attain our objective, India’s freedom. All Malayan Indians must redouble their efforts and they must remember that until the tricolour flag is hoisted at Delhi the fight will continue and they must make all sacrifices."

The gathering dispersed after the singing of the National song by a Unit of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment in which many others joined.