Indian National Army: The Forgotten Army of India

Indian National Army (INA) also known as Azad Hind Fauj, was the army that was raised by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose to fight the war against British Empire in India. INA was formed in 1942 under Rash Behari Bose, later he transferred INA to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. INA was raised from the prisoners of war.

Germany and Japan the enemies of Britain helped Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose to train the INA soldiers and the Germans took 13 long months to train them and later, transferred those INA soldiers to Bose. Around 26,000 soldiers of INA attained VEERGATI (Martyrdom) in the battles of Imphal and Kohima and during the retreat through Burma.

What made Bose raise Indian National Army?

British East India Company came to India on 24th August 1608, They landed at the port of Surat. In 1757 British East India Company established the British Empire in India after the destruction of the Mughal Empire.

Britisher’s used the divide and rule technique and they played one power off against the other-the Marathas against the Nizam and the Sikhs against the Purbayias of modern-day UP, Bihar, Bengal, and so on. Britisher’s intent was very clear to loot the colonized land and its people.

Key characteristics of the British were racial arrogance and white supremacy attitude. To end the repression of the British Empire on Indians and India (which is Bharat Mata for Indians), the only solution was to get India free from British rule.

Indian National Army played a very important role in getting India freedom. INA did for what it was raised by Bose, they talked to the British in the language they understand ‘VIOLENCE’.

How Indian National Army was formed?

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose identified that the Gandhian non-violence way of the Indian freedom movement is completely under the tolerance thresholds of the British Empire. Bose differed from Gandhiji for him violence was the only option.

World war 2 gave him the opportunity to reach out to the enemies of Britain, Germany, and Japan to seek their help to get India’s freedom. Bose escaped to Germany and there he raised the Indian Legion- a brigade-size force formed from the Indian prisoners of war.

Japan also helped Subhash Chandra Bose to raise the Indian National Army from the Indian prisoners of war they held with them. Germany give the training to INA soldiers and took 13 months to transfer them to Bose.

Germany and Japan played a very important role in raising INA. Later, Subhash Chandra Bose expanded the Indian National Army to a size of 1,500 officers and 60,000 soldiers and organized them into three divisions.

Role Of INA In the Indian Freedom Movement

The first war of Independence or 1857 mutiny was the point from where the Indian freedom movement got pace. Gandhiji united the common Indian and launched the non-cooperation movement also known as the civil disobedience movement in 1920.

The aim was clear to get India free from British colonial rule but, at the same time, he kept the movement non-violent. Gandhiji’s non-violent way of asking for freedom was completely under the tolerance level of British Authorities and that’s why they didn’t act ruthlessly with the protesters.

Bose knew that the non-violent freedom movement is not going to impact the British in any way that they would free India from British rule. In 1939, world war 2 began and Bose came out with a plan to reach out to Germany and Japan, enemies of Britain to seek their help to free India from British colonial rule.

Gandhiji opposed his idea and he makes sure that Bose did not become the Congress president for the 2nd time. However, Bose escaped to Germany, and with the help of Germany and Japan, he raised Indian National Army.

Bose established a provisional government of Azad Hind and declared war on Britain. In January 1944 INA fought the battles of Imphal and Kohima along with the Japanese and captured Imphal and Arakan in March 1944.

Later, they also captured Kohima but it took more time than expected time. In May 1944, Indian National Army and Japanese troops were forced to retreat because they had run out of supplies.

Read About: The Man Who Got India Freedom Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, 1857 Mutiny and India’s Freedom

On 15th August 1945, Japan surrendered. Indian National Army lost the battles but won the war of Independence. Military activities of INA and Subhash Chandra Bose lead to Physical mutinies in British Indian armed forces in the year 1946.

Around 26,000 soldiers of INA sacrificed themselves in the battle of Imphal and Kohima. Indian National Army and Subhash Chandra Bose played a very prominent role in getting India free from British colonial rule.

Indian National Army Trials

On 15th August 1945, Japan surrendered and World war 2 came to an end. Subhash Chandra Bose needed support and he went to the Soviet Union via Taiwan to seek Soviet Union support. However, on 18th September his plane crashed when he was going to the Soviet Union.

INA was leaderless and at the end of world war, 2 Indian National Army’s expeditions also came to an end. Almost 16,000 soldiers of INA were captured by the British and sent to detention camps. Almost, 10 INA trials were held out of which the first one was known as the Red Fort trials.

Red Fort trials started with the trials of three Indian National Army officers, Colonel Prem Sahgal, Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, and Major General Shah Nawaj Khan for the charges of treason, torture, and murder during world war 2.

Indian National Army defence committee was organized by Congress which included lawyers like Bhulbhai Desai, Asaf Ali, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Tej Bahadur Sapru, and Kailash Nath katju. Those 3 INA officers were sentenced to lifetime deportation (sent to jails away from India or some sort of Island).

This triggered widespread mutinies in the Royal Indian Navy, Royal Indian Air Force, and many units of the British Indian Army. However, the sentence was never carried out due to immense public pressure and demonstration.

Later,  Claude Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army commuted the rulings against all the defendants due to immense public pressure and mutinies in British Indian forces.

INA got India freedom, what they got in return?

India got freedom from British rule on 15th August 1947. Indian National Army played a very crucial role in getting India free from British colonial rule. Around 26,000 soldiers of INA attained Veergati (Martyrdom) in the battles of Imphal and Kohima and during the retreat through Burma.

INA’s role in the freedom movement cannot be neglected but what they got in return for doing all that they did for the freedom of India. Intelligence Bureau’s reports on INA trials dated 20th November 1945 reveals that “Sardar Patel wanted the Indian National Army to be the nucleus of the new Indian Army”.

It was Pandit Nehru who later refused to take INA soldiers back into the Indian Army and treated them as traitors. He even stopped their pensions. He did all this under the pressure of Mountbatten.

INA soldiers who fought for the Independence of India were treated as traitors. Intelligence Bureau continued to report to London about the activities of the relatives of Subhash Chandra Bose and ex-INA personnel till 1960.

All this was happening in democratic and free India, Did the Government of India know about what IB was doing? INA soldiers who fought the final battle of Indian Independence were honoured by treating them as traitors, stopping their pensions, and not taking them back into the new Indian Army.

Resurrection: Indian National Army and Subhash Chandra Bose

On 23rd January 2016, The declassification of Netaji’s files started. It was Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s 119th Birth Anniversary and on this day 100 files of Netaji were declassified.

A total of 225 files of Netaji were declassified and made available to the public domain. All this happened due to the efforts of Bose family and Netaji researchers like Major General GD Bakshi, Anuj Dhar, and Chandrachud.

On 21st October 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unfurled the National flag at the Red Fort along with him was Naik Lalti Ram of the INA and Chandra Bose (nephew of Netaji) on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the Azad Hind Government.

Prime Minister Modi laid the foundation stone of the Netaji Bose INA Museum in the Red Fort Barracks, the same place where the trials of the INA officers had been held.

On 26th January 2019, the 70th Republic day four INA soldiers Naik Lalti Ram, sepoy Baghmal, Hira Singh, and Paramananda Yadav were officially honoured and were taken in Military Gypsy vehicles down Rajpath.

Finally, the honour of the Indian National Army was restored. A forgotten Army was honoured after seven decades by its country and countrymen. The Nation had honoured its heroes after 70 years.


Indian National Army (INA) was the force that fought the final battle against the British forces. INA played a very crucial role in getting India freedom. The military activities of Subhash Chandra Bose and INA lead to the erosion of loyalty towards the British crown of Indian forces, and the British had to leave India.

In the battle against the British, 26,000 soldiers of INA attained Veergati. INA and Subhash Chandra Bose got India freedom and we the people of this nation took almost 70 years to honour our heroes.

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