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>>

Address to the women's section of the Indian Independence League, Singapore

Sisters! I thank you with all my heart, for the warm welcome you have given me this evening. I also thank you with all my heart for your enthusiastic participation in the mammoth meeting which was held opposite the Tokku Petsu-shi Buildings. In spite of the rain you stuck to your seats till the end, and this moved me and my friends who participated in the meeting. I also know that some of you took your children there. Your bravery and enthusiasm thrilled all of us. I have the least doubt in my mind that your mission which has started auspiciously will grow rapidly.

You know well the service which Indian women have been rendering in the national movement during the past twenty years. From the time of India's regeneration, Indian women have been vigorously taking part in public life. This change can be clearly noticed. Since 1921 when the Congress was regenerated under Mahatma Gandhi's leadership, our sisters have performed great deeds not only in the Congress movements and the civil disobedience struggle but also in the secret revolutionary movements.

It will not be an exaggeration if I say that there are no public activities or departments of our national effort in which women are not participating. During the past many years of our national movement, women have been equal to men in undergoing suffering with joy and courage. The Indian women never lagged behind anybody in going from village to village, without food and water, addressing meeting after meeting, in carrying the message of freedom from house to house, in conducting election campaigns, in taking out processions in spite of Government's bans and in the face of lathi charge by the merciless British police, and in putting up with the privations of prison-life, torture and humiliations. Last but not least, our heroic sisters also took an active part in the secret revolutionary activities. Many a time they have demonstrated that they too, if necessary, could use fire-arms as well as their brothers.

When I express my confidence that you are today prepared to fight and suffer for the sake of your motherland, I do not mean only to cajole you with empty words. I know the capabilities of our womanhood well. I can, therefore, say with certainty that there is no task which our women cannot undertake and no sacrifice and suffering which our women cannot undergo.

The time for launching the final campaign to liberate our motherland has now come. Only very rarely such opportunities occur in a nation's life. Surely such an opportunity will not come again in our life-time, nor even in the next hundred years. Only by God's grace have we got such an opportunity. If we seize it and sacrifice our all, we can surely liberate our country.

I know some among us have been thinking that British imperialism was immortal and had no end. But I know that history wills it otherwise. History has taught us that every empire will fall in the same way as it has arisen. Similarly, the time has now come for the exit of British imperialism from the world. We have seen with our own eyes the destruction of the British Empire in this part of the world. We are also going to witness its disappearance from India and other parts of the world.

Some years back I read a book on the British Empire by an Englishman named Meredith Conrad. Referring to India he says that once the Indians become united, the British will not be able to rule over them. He has further said that the empire which came into being in a day will die in a night.

I have mentioned in my broadcast that it took just seven days to drive them out of the stronghold of Singapore which they had built in the course of twenty years. Of course, I do not expect that the British can be driven out of India within a week. But you can mathematically calculate how many weeks it will take to drive out the British once we launch our final military action.

Sisters! I think every one of you believes that the time to begin our efforts for our salvation has come now. I also sincerely believe that you all wish this war to end in the defeat of Anglo-American imperialism, because India can gain her freedom only if it is vanquished. It is for this reason that I have often been saying that the liberation of India is dependent on the victory of the Axis Powers. Today India and the Axis Powers are facing a common enemy. We therefore have a common goal. We have to fight against our common foe; we should be prepared to make any sacrifice and win our freedom by sharing the joys and sorrows equally among ourselves.

If we get freedom without sacrifice and suffering it will be of no avail, because we will not be able to preserve the freedom which is gained so easily. We shall therefore get our freedom only through oar suffering. I firmly believe that we can give adequate support to our motherland by our total mobilisation.

Therefore, sisters, you too must take your share in the coming struggle. You can serve in various capacities. Women have special skill in same specific fields. For example, you can serve in the hospitals. When our military campaigns have started, who will take care of our wounded soldiers? Will it not be shameful if our sisters do not come forward to comfort our wounded soldiers? Sisters, this is only a part of your duty. You can also help us in the recruitment of soldiers and collection of funds and supplies. Sometimes you may even have to take up arms.

To those who say that it will not be proper for our women to carry guns, my only request is that they look into the pages of our history. What brave deeds the Rani of Jhansi performed during the First War of Independence in 1857! Similarly, many brave women like the Rani of Jhansi are required in our Last War of Independence also. It is not important how many guns you can carry or how many cartridges you can fire. It is the spiritual force which will be generated by your heroic example that is important. Indians — both common people and members of the British Indian army — who are on the border areas of India, will, on seeing you march with guns on your shoulders, voluntarily come forward to receive the guns from you and carry on the struggle started by you. I do not have the least doubt about this. Therefore, I can say with certainty that the time has come for every Indian — man and woman, boy and girl — to come forward and make great sacrifices for liberating India.

Sisters, your energetic activities will not only inspire our countrymen living in Malaya, East Asia and Syonan but also those living within our country. I have no doubt that the 388 million Indians, on hearing about your efforts and your preparations for the fight, will be greatly inspired. I wish all your efforts are crowned with success. Your task is the same as ours. In this common task, in this struggle, in this suffering and sacrifice, all of us — without any distinction of man or woman, boy or girl, poor or rich, young or old — should stand shoulder to shoulder, should start the final struggle and should hasten the day of India's deliverance,

I once again thank you for the welcome you have given me today and for your enthusiastic participation in the public meeting the other day. I also thank you for the purse you have presented me today. I wish that all your activities for the liberation of our motherland end in victory.

As I told you earlier, the time for preparing ourselves for the final straggle has come. I have already announced to the world the formation of the Azad Hind Army. It is preparing itself for the war of liberation. I hope that the time will come for me to announce to the world that the Jhansi Rani Regiment also is preparing for the straggle. This work should be started immediately. I therefore request all those who want to join the Jhansi Rani Regiment to come forward and give your names.