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>>

Broadcast by Singapore Radio

Speaking at a mass rally today Netaji Bose said:

“I would like to tell you quite frankly what made me leave home and homeland, on a journey that was fraught with danger of every kind. I was lodged safely in a British prison, when I silently resolved to risk everything in the attempt to escape from the clutches of the British. Having been in prison eleven times, it was much easier and much safer for me to continue there, but I felt that the cause of India's independence demanded a journey abroad, regardless of the risk that it involved.

It took me full three months of prayer and meditation to decide if I had strength enough to face death in fulfilling my duty. Before I could slip out of India, I had to get out of prison — and in order to do so, I had to go on hunger strike, demanding my release. I know that neither in India nor in Ireland, had a prisoner succeeded in forcing the British Government to release him. I knew also that Terence MacSwiney and Jatin Das had died in the attempt to force the Government's hands. But I felt convinced that I had a historic task to fulfil. So I took the plunge, and after seven days of hunger strike, the Government unexpectedly got unnerved and set me free, with the intention of taking me back to prison again after a month or two. But before they could seize me again, I became a free man.

Friends! You know that I have been actively working in the Independence movement ever since I left the University in 1921. I have been through all the civil disobedience campaign during the last two decades. In addition to this I have been repeatedly put in prison without trial, on the suspicion of having been connected with secret revolutionary movements — whether non-violent or violent. In the light of this experience, I came to the conclusion that all the efforts that we could put forward inside India would not suffice to expel the British from the country.

To put it briefly, therefore, my object in leaving India was to supplement from outside the struggle going on at home. On the other hand, the supplementary help from outside which the national struggle at home so urgently needs is in reality very small. The help that our countrymen at home needed and still need is a two-fold one, moral and material. Firstly, they have to be morally convinced that their victory is assured. Secondly, they have to be given military help from outside.

The time has come when I can openly tell the whole world including our enemies as to how it is proposed to bring about national liberation. Indians outside India, particularly Indians in East Asia, are going to organise a fighting force which will be powerful enough to attack the British Army in India. When we do so, a revolution will break out, not only among the civil population at home, but also among the Indian Army which is now standing under the British flag. When the British Government is thus attacked from both sides — from inside India and from outside — it will collapse, and the Indian people will then regain their liberty. According to my plan, therefore, it is not even necessary to bother about the attitude of the Axis Powers towards India. If Indians outside and inside India will do their duty, it is possible for the Indian people to throw the British out of India and liberate 388 millions of their countrymen. Friends, let the slogan of the three million Indians in East Asia be: 'Total Mobilisation for a Total War.’ Out of this total mobilisation, I expect at least three lakhs soldiers and three crores of dollars. I want also a unit of brave Indian women to form a death-defying Regiment who will wield the sword which the brave Rani of Jhansi wielded in India's First War of Independence in 1857.

Our countrymen at home are now hard pressed and they are demanding a Second Front. Give me total mobilisation in East Asia and I promise you a second front — a real second front for the Indian struggle.”