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Indian Independence: World War II Source 5

Note by M.I.2(a)

Recent Activities of Subhas Chandra Bose

(L/WS/1/1576: ff 79-80)

Chandra Bose addressing a rally in Tokyo, 1945

Chandra Bose addressing a rally in Tokyo, 1945

Chandra Bose addressing rally in Tokyo, 1945

Most Secret

1. Subhas Chandra Bose, who arrived in East Asia from Germany in May, appears to have gone to Tokio in mid-June. His arrival in Asia, at first kept secret, is now being widely publicised.

2. On his arrival in Tokio, Bose granted a number of interviews to Axis journalists at his headquarters at the Imperial Hotel. The gist of these interviews was reiteration of his belief in an Axis victory, in the imminent liberation of India with Axis help, and in the need for an armed revolt in India to coincide with invasion from the East. He also answered questions on such subjects as the character of Chiang Kai-shek and the appointment of the new Viceroy.

3. Bose has also spoken on the wireless - to India in English, Hindi and Bengali, and to Germany and Indians in Germany in German. In these broadcasts he again paid tribute to Axis benevolence, and urged all Indians outside India to get into touch with him and help him to organise a "gigantic force to sweep the British from India". This first veiled reference to the "Indian National Army" was later amplified by an official announcement from I.I.L. Headquarters in Singapore declaring that this "new Indian Army" is now under training. On July 8 a formation of the I.N.A. paraded before Bose and the Japanese Prime Minister, Tojo, during the latter's visit to Singapore.

4. On July 4, at a meeting of the Indian Independence League at Singapore ("Shonan") the interim President of the League, Rash Behari Bose, presented Subhas Bose to the League as its new President. S C Bose, who has adopted the title of "Mehtarji" ["Netaji"] or Leader, made a lengthy presidential address, chief points of which were:-

(a) Immediate formation under his aegis of a Provisional Government for India. When the revolution has succeeded this will be replaced by a permanent, popularly elected government.
(b) The hour of India's fight for Freedom has not struck.
(c) His sincere belief in Japan's good intentions.
(d) India's hope of freedom lies only in an Axis victory.
(e) Wavell's appointment means increased ruthlessness.
(f) Existence of many agents inside India with whom, in spite of the British Secret Service, he has kept in close touch.
(g) Great difficulties ahead.

5. In general, Bose's arrival in Asia may be said to have greatly increased the tempo of subversive propaganda, and appears to have galvanised the I.I.L. into greater political activity. It is also noticeable (and to be expected) that while praising and thanking Japan, Bose never forgets to refer to Germany and to Axis sympathy for India. Before his coming the I.I.L. was only publicised in connection with Japan: S C Bose clearly intends to raise the movement into a national campaign for freedom supported by all three Axis powers.

6. Bose's great drive and political acumen, his prestige in Indian revolutionary circles, his understanding of both Indian and English character, will be of real value to the Japanese whose propaganda against India has hitherto lacked imagination. Although we have good reason to believe that his statement at 4(f) is exaggerated there is no doubt that under Bose's direction subversive activities and espionage in India will be greatly intensified.

7. Bose has now finally burned his boats with us by virtue of his association with Germany and Japan, his political future being entirely dependent upon the continued military success of the Japanese and the paralysis of British rule in India by internal revolt. Fortunately public morale and internal security in India are now fairly steady and the Japanese widely feared. Bose will undoubtedly be able to make some capital our of the economic distress and the political deadlock but unless he can win over Congress en bloc his chances of stirring up a major revolt would appear to be small. Had he arrived in East Asia last August or even during Gandhi's fast his prospects would have been much better.

8. A biographical note1 on Bose is attached. (See Source 5b)