Rash Behari Bose – Founder Of The Indian National Army

published on November 29, 2009
SAGA OF PATRIOTISM -Revolutionaries in India’s Freedom Struggle- RASH BEHARI BOSE-Founder Of The Indian National Army- – SADHU PROF. V. RANGARAJAN & R. VIVEKANANDAN-

Bharatamata Gurukula Ashram & Yogi Ramsuratkumar Indological Research Centre, SISTER NIVEDITA ACADEMY “Sri Bharati Mandir’, Srinivasanagar, Kithaganur Road, Krishnarajapuram, Bangalore 560 036, INDIA. (Phone & Fax: 0991-80-5610935, 5613716; Cell: 94482 75935 e-mail: [email protected] )

“The story of Mr. Rash Behari Bose forms a vital part of India’s struggle for independence, and the victory which was finally achieved was in no small measure due to his organizational skill and wonderful spirit of sacrifice. If Netaji came out in the fight as Garibaldi of the movement, Rash Behari’s part in the drama was more than that of a Mazzini”, says Thakin Nu, former Prime Minister of Burma, referring to the role of Rash Behari as the founder of the Indian National Army.

Revolutionary even as a Student

Rash Behari Bose was born on 25th May 1886 (or on 15th March 1886?) in Subaldaha village in Burdwan district (or at Parala Bighati in Hoogly district?). He was the eldest of a family of four children of Binod Bihari Bose, a clerk in the Government Press at Patna. Right from his student days, Rash Behari was an active member of the Yugantar group of revolutionaries under the leadership of Motilal Roy. Being more interested in organizing secret revolutionary activities than in his studies, he had learned the tricks of making crude bombs even before he passed his matriculation. Much against the wish of his parents, Rash Behari refused to go to college.

Emergence as a Leader

In 1906, the Bengal wing of the revolutionary party sent him to Dehra Dun with the set purpose of converting members of the Indian army to revolutionary cult. Rash Behari tried to get himself enlisted in the army but he could not succeed. He then joined the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun, as a junior officer. He was trying to raise recruits from among the Bengali residents in Dehra Dun. He maintained close contact with the revolutionary leaders in Bengal and Punjab. The job in the Forest Department came in handy for him to execute his plans for manufacturing bombs and directing the revolutionary movement from places which the Government did not suspect and could not easily locate.

Rash Behari soon emerged as the virtual leader of the revolutionary movement in North India and was an effective link between the revolutionaries of Punjab and U.P. on the one hand and of Bengal on the other. He undertook a tour of the whole of North from Punjab to Bengal in order to introduce centralization and uniformity in the revolutionary movement. He convened a meeting of the workers of various revolutionary groups and a central working committee was formed.

Bomb thrown on Lord Hardinge

The British Government, which was very much scared by the growing nationalist and revolutionary activities in Bengal, decided to change the capital from Calcutta to Delhi. To break the political backbone of Bengal, Delhi was made the seat of the Viceroy instead of Calcutta. On 23rd December 1912, Lord Hardinge was entering Delhi in state with great pomp and show. Rash Behari and his colleagues decided to smite the might of the British Government in the very heart of the new capital. A plan was hatched to throw a bomb on the viceregal procession and Rash Behari personally undertook the task.

Describing the scene of the daring incident, Swatantrya Veer Savarkar says: ” On the breast of our Motherland, a carpet of national humiliation was spread out and dancers moved on it. For the nation, it was a funeral procession. Naturally when others in Chandni Chowk showered flowers and coconuts, the representatives of those who had felt the insult, hurled a bomb which routed the elephant, killed one of the A.D.C’.s and gave a blood-bath to the Viceroy. For five minutes everybody believed that Hardinge was dead. Verily the triumphant procession was turned into a funeral.”

Immediately after the incident, the Central Intelligence as well as the Scotland Yard people went into vigorous action and searches were made throughout the length and breadth of the country. The Government could not get any clue and what they did find out was that a young Muslim damsel, wrapped in a veil, had thrown something from the top of the Punjab National Bank building which proudly stood between the clock-tower in that historical street of Chandni Chowk and Dhoalia Katra.

Duping the British Intelligence

After performing this daring act, Rash Behari not only escaped with a trunk load of surplus bombs, but also managed to call and address a public meeting at Dehra Dun wherein he ruthlessly criticized the bomb-thrower. He also offered his services to the C.I.D. to help them find out the culprit and they too readily welcomed the Bengali’s offer to help since it was all along believed that it was the work of a Bengali revolutionary. He had made this offer to keep himself in touch with the C.I.D.’s investigation. For several months he toured at Government expense. But when he suspected that the British investigators might soon find out that he was the culprit, he took no more chances and quietly went underground. After a long investigation, thirteen persons were tried in a case which became known as the Delhi Conspiracy Case. Master Amir Chand, Awadh Behari, Bal Mukund and Basant Kumar were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. But Rash Behari, the chief accused, could not be apprehended. There was a prize of Rs.7,500 on his head. His pictures were posted in all public places. But all these efforts of the British Government to arrest him proved futile.

Organizing the Gadar Uprising

With the rising flames of World War, the Gadar Party founded by Indian revolutionaries under the leadership of Lala Har Dayal in America started recruiting thousands of Indians in America for being sent to India for an uprising against the British, and the German submarines were to supply arms and ammunition to the revolutionary forces. The Gadar leaders got in touch with Rash Behari Bose through Bhai Paramanand and entrusted to him the responsibility of guiding the Gadar revolutionaries who reached India. While Rash Behari, who was underground and had made Benaras his headquarters, undertook the task of organizing the mass uprising in the North, Jatindra Nath Mukherjee, leader of the Yugantar organization in Calcutta, assumed the leadership for the uprising in the East. Rash Behari established contacts with Indian soldiers in the cantonments of North India and persuaded them to take part in the revolt. Vishnu Ganesh Pingale and Satyendranath Sen also came back to India and joined Rash Behari. The day for the uprising was fixed as 21st February, 1916. But an agent of the British, Kripal Singh, had got into the organization. Rash Behari, with his ken sense, had recognized him and wanted the revolutionaries to do away with him. The failure of the revolutionaries to carry out the orders of their leader, out of human consideration, resulted in the escape of Kripal Singh, and when the plan came to the notice of the British, the movement got unfortunately suppressed. Bhagi Kartar Singh, Jagat Singh, Harnam Singh, Vishnu Ganesh Pingale and some others were sentenced to death. Bhai Paramanand was awarded transportation for life and several other leaders of the movement were sentenced to different periods of imprisonment. The statement of an approver in the Lahore Conspiracy convinced the Government that Rash Behari was at the back of the whole movement.

Escapade to Japan

As soon as the first act in the great play on the stage of the Punjab was abruptly cut short, Rash Behari wanted to alert the revolutionaries in the East who were waiting for February 21, quite unaware of the mishap in the North. Rash Behari instructed Sachindranath Sanyal to go to Bengal and warn all the branches and leaders to avoid repetition of the Punjab tragedy. He stayed for full one month in the crowds of police and secret spies, eluding them all. However, Rash Behari’s associates and admirers felt that he should leave the country both for his personal safety and for leading the revolutionary movement from abroad. Accordingly, he came to Saharanpur where Barrister J.M. Chatterji raised some money from his friends for his voyage to Japan. From Saharanpur, Rash Behari came back to Chandernagar from where he escaped to Japan under the assumed name of Raja P.N. Tagore. How did he accomplish this thrilling feat was a mystery which could not be solved by the British police for years? He himself has described it: “I presented to the Commissioner of Police, Calcutta, as one of Gurudev Tagore’s Secretaries, proceeding to Japan to make arrangements for his visit to Tokyo. And I came out on a British passport.”

Leaving the shores of the Motherland, Rash Behari reached Shangai. From there he wanted to supply arms and ammunition to his Indian friends. But China herself was pre-occupied in her own war of liberation and Rash Behari could do very little under the circumstances. He tried all the ways possible to create obstacles in the success of the British war efforts. This involved him in a number of almost fatal dangers. But Dr. Sun-yat-sen, the father of New China, was there to protect Rash Behari.

Son-in-law in the Land of the Rising Sun

In June 1915, Rash Behari reached Tokyo. He convened there a meeting of the sponsors of the Indian Freedom Movement, in the renowned ‘Sayoken’ Hotel on 25th November, 1915. Besides reputed revolutionaries and the Japanese sympathizers, the meeting was also attended by the Punjab Lion, Lala Lajpat Rai. The meeting aroused the sympathy of the Japanese people for the efforts of the revolutionaries. But in pursuance of the conditions of the Anglo-Japanese alliance, the Japanese Government was forced to direct Rash Behari and his associate, Herambalal Gupta, to leave the shores of Japan before the 2nd of December. However, the Japanese people and the press came out openly supporting Rash Behari. The elderly political leader, Mitsui Toyama, assured help and protection to Rash Behari. Mr. Aizo Zoma, a man of fortune and owner of the most reputed Japanese Hotel, ‘Naka Muraya’, negotiated with Mr. Toyama through Mr. Naka Mura, Editor of Niroku, and provided secret hiding for Rash Behari in the cellar of that influential hotel. Three months later, a British man-of-war attacked a Japanese ship, and this provoked the Japanese Government to hit at the British pride and prestige by reversing its policy in regard to Rash Behari. Rash Behari came in the open in April 1916. During his stay in ‘Naka Muraya’, Mr. and Mrs. Zoma, who bestowed on him loving care, developed a filial affection for Rash Behari. They offered their eldest daughter, Tosiko, in marriage to Rash Behari. Though he became a son-in-law in the Land of the Rising Sun, Rash Behari never forgot his Motherland. Undaunted, Rash Behari continued his militant activities.

Founding the Azad Hind Fauz

  As soon as the Second World War broke out, Rash Behari Bose found another great opportunity to make an attempt to liberate his Motherland. On 15th February 1942, Singapore fell into the hands of Japan. On that day 15,000 British, 13,000 Australian and 32,000 Indian soldiers were there in Singapore, and all of them were taken as prisoners of war by the Japanese. Japan also took over Malaya and established her authority over the country of fifty lakhs of people, among whom three lakhs were Indians. Subhas Bose, who was then in Germany and was finding it difficult to move forces from the European theatre to the Indian borders, looked to Japan to help him in opening an Eastern Front. Destiny was also working for the fruition of Subhas’s wish. A brilliant idea crossed across the mind of Rash Behari Bose, who had settled in Japan, and he had started working on the idea of inspiring the captured Indians to form a Liberation Army and invade India from outside. On 17th February 1942, just after the conquest of Singapore, Major Fujiwara, Commander of the victorious Japanese army, summoned the prominent Indian citizens in Singapore, and told them that if they were prepared to renounce their British citizenship and organize themselves for the fight for the freedom of India, Japan would give them all help. The Indians were undecided in their attitude. Just then, Rash Behari appeared on the scene. He convened a conference of the representatives of Indians in Japan, China, Malaya and Thailand, in Tokyo, on 28th March, and formed the Indian Independence League. A plan to build up “Azad Hind Fauz” on the pattern of the Free India Army of Berlin was also announced.

President of the War Council

From June 14 to 23 a second conference of Indians was held in the East in Bangkok. Representatives of about three lakhs of Indians scattered all over Java, Sumatra, Indo-China, Borneo, Manchuko, Hongkong, Burma, Malaya and Japan had gathered in large numbers. The conference presented a memorandum to Japan requesting that its demand for equal rights and status for the Azad Hind Fauz of Free India be conceded. The meeting also constituted the War Council of the League with Rash Behari Bose as the first President and Mr. M. Raghavan, K.R.K. Menon, Captain Mohan Singh and Colonel G.K. Gillani as other members. The conference also decided to invite Subhas Chandra Bose to lead the Indian Independence League and the Azad Hind Fauz in the East, and an invitation was sent accordingly. Soon after the conference, the membership of the League swelled to 1,20,000, and 50,000 Indian soldiers were enlisted into the Indian National Army. An independent broadcasting centre was also set up at Bangkok.

Handing Over Charge to Subhas

Subhas Bose was much pleased to see the turn of events. Readily accepting the invitation of Rash Behari and overcoming many a hurdle, he reached Tokyo in a submarine on June 20. On July 2, he reached Singapore where the Indians, Chinese and the Japanese accorded him an unprecedented welcome. Addressing a mammoth gathering, he gave the call to Indians—”Chalo Delhi” (march on to Delhi). On July 5, 1943, Rash Behari conferred on Subhas Bose the Presidentship of Indian Independence League and constituted himself as his adviser. Soon under the captaincy of Laxmi, the Rani Laxmi Regiment was formed. On 25th August, 1943, Subhas assumed the Supreme Command of the Free Indian National Army.

His Dream Came True

“Will they be able to get somewhere in India before the worst happens?” That was Rash Bihair’s concern for the Azad Hind Fauz. During his last days, Rash Behari was constantly hearing the broadcasts about the onward march of his beloved soldiers of the Fauz and they gave him the assurance that the dawn of India’s freedom was at hand. On the bleak wintry morning of 21st January, 1945, Rash Behari died of heart attack. He was cremated by the Buddhist rites and his ashes were buried in Yama Cemetery. A few days later, the little house he had built in Tokyo’s suburbs went up in flames. Rash Behari’s son, Masahide Bose, was killed in action, while fighting for the Japanese Army in Okinawa. Though Rash Behari did not live to see his mother country becoming Independent, he died only after setting afoot his plan of action which gave the final and crushing blow under which the British Empire crumbled to pieces.

In 1959, when the ashes of Rash Behari were brought to India by his daughter, Tetsu Higuchi, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the then President of India, paid to the noble son of Bharat a glowing tribute in which he said, “Rash Behari Bose was one of those well-known patriots whose love for the Motherland and burning desire to see her free could never be curbed.”

Homage to Martyrs of 1857

“During and since 1857, when we first revolted against British Imperialism in India, hundreds of thousands of our most respected and beloved compatriots have laid down their lives in their effort to free our Motherland. We cannot forget the fact that they have nourished the seeds of Swaraj with their blood, and it is the result of their supreme sacrifice that, we are today so near our goal and can hope with confidence to achieve Independence in the near future. The world kno
s only a part of the long list of Indian victims of British Imperialism. Let us pay our respects to the memory of those numberless known and unknown comrades. Placed as we are today, we can do very little beyond that. But the time is fast approaching when in every city and town in India we shall find a worthy monument erected in their memory and we Indians will pay our homage to them and look upon them with pride….

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

“Every tragedy, however, has a lesson, and so has the tragedy of Jallianwala Bagh. The blood of more than a thousand of those innocent martyrs that included even our women and children, cannot go without significant results. The great upheaval that swept India from one corner to the other, and the great movement of non-cooperation and civil disobedience that has been carried on by the Indian National Congress since 1919 and that has wonderfully organized the masses of India for political struggle, were undoubtedly the direct result of the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh.”
—Rash Behari Bose
Extracts from Presidential Address at the Inauguration of the Bangkok Conference (15 June 1942)

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