A single betrayal of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose – That changed the Indian history forever

By: Shreepal Singh

There is a discrete spot, almost unknown to the general public in India, in Kohima in Nagaland. It is known as “Kohima War Cemetary”. Today, it is a beautiful  memorial amid dense jungles. It is a place where even now the bigwigs of British military authorities on important anniversary days come to pay their respects to their comrades who lay dead there.

It was the spot where on 4th April to 22 June 1944 the British forces – mostly comprising Indian soldiers – fought their second World War’s deadliest battle with a small number of “Azad Hind Fauz” soldiers, who were fighting their adversaries with ill-equipped in firing weapons, without any support of air power, under-nourished without any supply lines from behind the front and in a terrain full of leeches and other poisonous crawling insects. Most of these ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ (Indian National Army) soldiers were erstwhile POWs (Prisoners of war) who were Indians, had fought on behalf of the British against the Japanese forces and on being defeated had surrendered to the Japanese. While being held as POW in many places in Indochina War Theater, they had been won over to the cause of ‘Mother India’ by the inspiring addresses of Subhash Chandra Bose, dearly called Netaji. This time, these Indians were fighting against the British for their mother land. In this war, they were high in spirit but low on material. The mantra – the slogan – that Netaji gave them was: ‘You give me your blood, I will give you your freedom’ (Tum mujhe khoon do, mein tumeh azadi dunga).

The British military authorities’ representatives do not come to this place on commemoration day vaingloriously to remember and pay tribute to just ‘some of their fallen comrades out of the many millions’, who had fought and sacrificed their lives in WW II. The British forces had fought many deadly battles – to the last drop of the blood – against the German, Italian and Japanese forces on many fronts. It is admitted by the British military historians that the battle their forces fought with ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ on the Indo-Burma border was the most fierce among all.The Battles of Kohima and Imphal were recently voted the “Greatest ever battles involving the British.”  It is also known as the “Stalingrad of The East.”

It is related by some of the veterans of the Netaji’s ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ that they had fought the British-Indian forces in a situation where their bullets of rifles had exhausted, there was no possibility of replenishing the ammunition, there was no food and they had to cook leeches, scorpions etc. on the make-shift ‘stone’ oven, when the British airplanes were relentlessly raining bombs on them, there was no possibility for calling the help from the Japanese Imperial Air Force. By all military accounts, the fate of ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ was sealed; it was doomed. Still, the soldiers of Netaji’s force were determined to fight; their spirit was soaring high: ‘Victory or death’. The victorious INA  had marched from Burma to Manipur and then into Kohima in Nagaland. The soldiers of INA had broken the resistance of the British forces, defeated them and entered as a victorious Indian National Army in Port Blair of Andaman and Nicobar islands. The Army opened the gates of Cellular Jail there and set all prisoners confined by the British government free. It was a piece of free India. But it was proved so free only for a moment.

Why did this particular battle in this ‘commemorative place’ in Kohima happen to be the ‘most deadly’ of all the battles that the British fought during the entire Second World War? Was this battle won by the British-Indian forces against ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ on account of their bravery – or of the superiority of their weapons? Imagine for a moment: ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ was not defeated in this battle; after conquering Andaman and Nicobar Islands, this army moved victoriously to the mainland India. It was a dreaded scenario for the British rulers of India. Had this happened, the people in the length and the breadth of India would have risen in unison to support and help this Indian National Army built and nurtured by a popular leader called Nataji. Then, what would have happened to the Indian National Congress and its leaders, who were busy negotiating with the British rulers over the fate of India? Perhaps no further imagination is necessary to visualize the consequences that this country would have undergone under a government formed with the power of ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ and under the leadership of Bose. Today India would have been a different country. Its history of the last 60 years would have been altogether a different story.

But is it not a fig of imagination only? How could Netaji’s INA win this fateful battle against the better equipped British forces? And, there was atomic bomb attack on the Japanese Imperial Forces, which forced them to surrender; what Bose and his INA could have done without the support of the Japanese under these circumstances? Indeed, the atomic assault by U.S.A. on the Japanese cities brought that country on its knees and any assistance or even support of the Japanese to ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ was after that moment out of the question. But it is also borne out by the historical records that despite the losses suffered by INA at the hands of the British at this spot and surrender of Japan, the soldiers of ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ refused to retreat back from the fighting front; Bose in the name of his authority as the Commander-in-Chief of INA had to address, persuade and direct them to retreat by saying, ‘We have not been defeated; another day will come when we will again assemble to fight’. In our imagination, the day the victorious ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ under the direct leadership of Bose would have entered mainland India, it would have been a war within India without any concern with Japan and her defeat.

We again put the question: “Why did this particular battle in this ‘commemorative place’ in Kohima happen to be the ‘most deadly’ of all the battles that the British fought during the entire Second World War?” It was so because the British rulers had been given an information in advance of the planned attack on them by INA of Netaji and the British forces had sufficiently prepared for the anticipated assault on them. In the art of war the elements of surprise, deception, information, strategy based on information etc. are more lethal than weapons in deciding the outcome of a war. Bose had lost this crucial battle (that sealed the fate of this country) because he had been betrayed by one of his confidante.

This modern ‘Jaichand’ was the person who had helped Bose in Kabul (Afghanistan) after his escape from India by arranging his stay in Kabul and his onward journey to the Soviet Union. The name of this person was Bhagat Ram Talwar.

Bhagat Ram Talwar was a prominent member of an organization called ‘Kriti Kishan’ and this Kriti Kishan was a front organization of Communist Party of India. Bhagat Ram Talwar was based in Kabul and had a house there where he arranged the stay of Bose. Being a prominent member of an organization of Communist Party of India,  Bhagat Ram Talwar was in regular communication with the ambassador of Soviet Union to Afghanistan stationed in Kabul. It was Bhagat Ram Talwar who had arranged a visa for Bose in a fictitious name and had arranged for the Bose’s entry into Soviet Union through an Afghanistan-Russian land-route border (once inside Russia, Bose had safely taken an airplane for further journey). It was only because of Bhagat Ram Talwar’s link with the Soviet ambassador that Bose’s arrival in Russia was within the knowledge of Joseph Stalin and Bose was enabled to put his idea / proposal to fight the British in India with the help of Soviet Union (of course, this proposal of Bose was not accepted by Stalin and he was allowed to go to Germany for his cause).

But Bhagat Ram Talwar was a very cunning and treacherous person. He was regularly getting money from the Soviet ambassador for providing information to him, which work is called espionage. Once he knew the utility of his work, he cultivated links with the German representative in Kabul and started getting money from him as well. As if this was not enough, he volunteered his services to the British representative based in Kabul. Now he was master of the trade and triple-agent / counter agent of three great powers of the world. The British intelligence officials in London allotted this Bhagat Ram Talwar a code name ‘Silver’. Today information technology has made it possible for people to have access to the information that was out of the bound previously. This ‘Silver’ or Bhagat Ram Talwar had installed transmitting machines in his house that directly linked him to the officials of Adolph Hitler in Berlin. He was such a willy person that while getting money from all the three great powers of the world, none of them was aware of his counter intelligence. He raked money from all the three and befooled all of them.

Historical Dictionary of British Intelligence by Nigel West at page 542 states about Bhagat Ram Talwar thus, “Silver. The D Division codename for Bhagat Ram Talwar, a 32-year-old Hindu and committed member of Kirti Kishan, the Communist Party of India (CPI), whose brother had been hanged in 1931 for assassinating a British official before World War II. In January 1941, Ram had played a role in the escape of the notorious Indian nationalist, Subhash Chandra Bose, from his house arrest in Calcutta to Afghanistan and then to Germany, but as his loy-(ality?…..)”

As Bhagat Ram Talwar had created a great impression on Bose by his ability to enable him (Bose) to communicate with Stalin, he enjoyed his complete trust and confidence. Bose considered Bhagat Ram Talwar his own man helping the cause of India. During World War II the whole world was in the churning and uncertain of the future, and many great political leaders fumbled in their assessments and moves. Bose had visualized the rising of India against the British power here as and when his INA entered the country as a victorious force. Towards this vision Bose had been regularly addressing the Indian people on radio from Berlin. He was in need of collaborators back at home for that moment and, wherever possible, he kept his contacts abreast of the latest development that were taking place on his side. It was to inculcate in them hope for the future, to make them prepared for the critical moment whenever it arrives and to seek their cooperation. The decision to attack the British forces in India in the North-East from Burma was a solemn, crucial and critical act on the part of Bose. It is a common sense, it is a guess, it is logical that on the part of the leader of INA not only the greatest planning and preparation for the planned offensive must gone into to guarantee its success, but also the information of the coming tide (attack) must have been shared with the collaborators (like Bhagat Ram Talwar) with the hope of a helping hand against their common enemy. The needle of suspicion stops at Bhagat Ram Talwar. It requires further research to pin him down to the crime of treachery against his mother land.

A poet has brilliantly penned a Urdu couplet that reflects the agony of India: “Sometimes a mistake is committed by someone in a fleeting moment; but its punishment is inflicted on survivors for centuries to come.”

There is no doubt of the facts that the British rulers of India had been informed in advance of the planned offensive by INA; that on getting this information the British had prepared themselves to fight a tough battle (so tough that they had never encountered during the entire WW II); and that INA was forced to retreat back from India (after liberating Andaman and Nicobar Islands) only because of this betrayal.

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Hemlata Bhardwaj
    Jul 30, 2017 @ 16:16:19

    I am from NavBharat Times, we wish to go further on the topic. we have not your contact number and email. please contact me at my given email.

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