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  • The idea of the Indian National Army (INA) was first conceived in Malaya by Mohan Singh, an Indian officer of the British Indian Army, when he decided not to join the retreating British Army and instead turned to the Japanese for help.


  • The Japanese handed over the Indian prisoners of war (POWs) to Mohan Singh who tried to recruit them into an Indian National Army. After the fall of Singapore, Mohan Singh further got 45,000 POWs into his sphere of influence.
  • By the end of 1942, 40,000 men were ready to join the INA. The INA intended to go into action only on invitation of the Indian National Congress and the people of India.
  • It was also seen by many as a check against the misconduct of the Japanese against Indians in South-East Asia and a bulwark against a future Japanese occupation of India.
  • The outbreak of the Quit India Movement gave a fillip to the INA as well. In September 1942, the first division of the INA was formed with 16,300 men.
  • With the Japanese contemplating an Indian invasion, the idea of an armed wing of INA seemed more relevant to them.
  • But soon, serious differences emerged between the Indian Army officers led by Mohan Singh and the Japanese over the role to be played by the INA.
  • Actually, the Japanese wanted a token force of 2,000 only while Mohan Singh wanted to raise an army of 2, 00,000.


  • The next phase began with the arrival of Subhash Bose in Singapore in July 1943. Earlier, he had left the Congress after having developed differences with Gandhi and had formed the Forward Bloc in 1940.
  • In March 1941, he escaped from India, where he had been under house arrest, and approached the Russian leaders for help against Britain.
  • When in June 1941 the Soviet Union joined the war on behalf of the Allies, Bose went to Germany and from there he reached Japan in February 1943. He asked for Japanese help for an armed struggle against the British rule.
  • He came to Singapore in July 1943 where he was assisted by Rash Behari Bose and others, such as the Indian residents of South-East Asia and the Indian POWs from Burma, Malaya and Singapore.                                                                THE INDIAN NATIONAL ARMY -1942
  • In October 1943, he set up a Provisional Indian Government with headquarters at Rangoon and Singapore. This Provisional Government was recognised by the Axis powers. Recruits were trained and funds collected for the INA.
  • Even a women’s regiment called the Rani Jhansi Regiment was formed. In July 1944, Subhash Bose asked for Gandhi’s blessings for “India’s last war of independence”.
  • One INA battalion commanded by Shah Nawaz was allowed to accompany the Japanese Army to the Indo-Burma front and participate in the Imphal campaign.
  • But the discrimiÂ-natory treatment by the Japanese, which included being denied rations and arms and being made to do menial work for the Japanese units, completely demoralised the INA units.
  • The failure of the Imphal campaign and the steady Japanese retreat thereafter quashed any hopes of the INA liberating the nation.
  • The retreat continued till mid-1945 and ended only with the final surrender to the British in South-East Asia. But when the INA POWs were brought back to India after the war to be court-martialed, a powerful movement emerged in their defence.           THE INDIAN NATIONAL ARMY -1942


Modern History

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