Subhash Chandra Bose was one of the most respected freedom fighters of India. He was a charismatic influencer of the youth and earned the epithet ‘Netaji’ by establishing and leading the Indian National Army (INA) during India’s struggle for independence.
Although initially aligned with the Indian National Congress, he was ousted from the party due to his difference in ideology. He sought assistance from Nazi leadership in Germany and Imperial forces in Japan during the World War II, to overthrow the British from India. His sudden disappearance post 1945, led to surfacing of various theories, concerning the possibilities of his survival.
Subhash Chandra Bose was a brilliant student. He passed his B.A. in Philosophy from the Presidency College in Calcutta. He was deeply influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings and was known for his patriotic zeal as a student.
In an incident where Bose beat up his professor (E.F. Otten) for his racist remarks, brought him notoriety as a rebel-Indian in eyes of the government.
His father wanted Netaji to become a civil servant and therefore, sent him to England to appear for the Indian Civil Service Examination. Bose was placed fourth with highest marks in English. But his urge for participating in the freedom movement was intense and in April 1921, he resigned from the coveted Indian Civil Service and came back to India.
In December 1921, Bose was arrested and imprisoned for organizing a boycott of the celebrations to mark the Prince of Wales’ visit to India.
During his stay in Berlin, he met and fell in love with Emily Schenkl, who was of Austrian origin. Bose and Emily were married in 1937 in a secret Hindu ceremony and Emily gave birth to a daughter Anita in 1942. Shortly after the birth of their daughter, Bose left Germany in 1943 to come back to India.
Formation of the INA
Bose vehemently opposed the Congress decision to support the British during the Second World War. With the aim to initiate a mass movement, Bose called out to Indians for their whole-hearted participation. There was tremendous response to his call “Give me blood and I will give you freedom” and the British promptly imprisoned him. In jail, he declared a hunger-srtike. When his health deteriorated, the authorities, fearing violent reactions, released him but put him under house-arrest.
In January, 1941, Subhash made a planned escape and reached Berlin, Germany via a detour through Peshawar. Germans assured him their full support in his endeavours and he gained allegiance of Japan as well. He took a perilous journey back east and reached Japan where he assumed command over 40,000 soldiers recruited from Singapore and other south East Asian regions. He called his army the ‘Indian National Army’ (INA) and led the same to capture the Andaman and Nicobar islands from the British and rechristened it as Shaheed and Swaraj Islands. A provisional “Azad Hind Government” started functioning in the captured territories. The INA or the Azad Hind Fauj stared for India and crossed Burma Border, and stood on Indian soil on March 18, 1944. Unfortunately, the tide of the World War turned and the Japanese and German forces surrendered which forced him to call off further advancement.
ww2dbaseOn 18 Aug 1945, shortly after his flight took off from Matsuyama Airfield in Taihoku (now Taipei), Taiwan, the aircraft crashed. The accident killed the pilot, the co-pilot, and Lieutenant General Tsunamasa Shidei. Bose and his assistant Habibur Rahman survived the crash, but Bose suffered serious burns. He was brought to Nanmon Military Hospital south of Taihoku for treatment, where he was treated by Dr. Taneyoshi Yoshimi, a Dr. Tsuruta, and a Dr. Ishii. After slipping into a coma, Bose passed away between 2100 and 2200 hours local time. His ashes were eventually brought to Renkoji Temple in Tokyo, Japan. Later, many believed no such crash had taken place; some supporters of this theory cited that authorities in Taiwan and Japan were not able to produce any records about such a crash on that date. Whether he had gone into hiding, was interned by another power such as the Soviet Union, or indeed died in the air crash would remain a point of debate among some.