The Indian National Army (INA) was an armed force formed by Indian nationalists in 1942 in Southeast Asia during World War II. Its aim was to secure Indian independence from British rule. It formed an alliance with Imperial Japan in the latter’s campaign in the Southeast Asian theatre of WWII.
The army was first formed in 1942 under Mohan Singh, by Indian Prisoners of Wars (PoWs) of the British-Indian Army captured by Japan in the Malayan campaign and at Singapore. It was revived under the leadership of Subhas Chandra Bose after his arrival in Southeast Asia in 1943.
The role of Subhas Chandra Bose & his Indian National Army(INA), also known as Arzi-e-Hukumat Azad Hind Fauz have been a significant part of Indian Freedom Struggle.
Contributions of INA:
-> Army for independence – First of such armed movement against mighty British empire which shook them to the core.
-> Self belief – INA gave us self belief that even Indians are not just nonviolence preachers and can strike if needed.
-> Rani of Jhansi Regiment – First Indian women’s regiment and one of the very few all-female combat regiments of the Second World War on any side.
-> International support – It was able to get support from foreign nations making our independence an international
-> Arouse nationalism in Indian diaspora of Malaya, Singapore and amalgamated them.
-> Instilled sense of pride among prisoners of war to fight for right cause.
-> Launched a successful Burma campaign against allied forces and the frontier of India in Manipur in 1944.
However, INA couldn’t manage to get support from Indians because of their violence nature and INC criticism.
Events that led to its reconciliation to mainstream:
-> The 1946 Red Fort trials – of INA soldiers stirred Indian emotions and garnered support from all religions which became symbol of unity.
-> Quit India Movement: Final phase of QIM coincided with INA trials which aroused Indians to do or die.
-> Royal Indian Navy revolt: This revolt could make public and armed forces feel closer to the cause of INA soldiers.
-> INC support to INA trials: Later INC leaders like Pt. Nehru, Asaf Ali came forward to defend INA soldiers in courts.
-> Lakshmi Sehgal was awarded the Padma Vibhusan and fought for Presidential elections.
Netaji’s INA could not be successful beyond Andaman & Nicobar and Imphal but it aroused a strong anti British sentiment. Army was an important tool for British empire to establish control but they were terrified and unsure if the same army would be there when needed. Undoubtedly Netaji’s INA was instrumental for achieving an independent India.