Saturday, November 27, 2010

Indian Independence Movement Fund - WW2

Today's item is an Indian Independence Movement Fund receipt issued during WWII. Before I share the item and talk about historical background, I want to present my opinion on these kinds of items available for sale.

As we all understand that over period of time, these items have become rare and definitely command a good amount of money. I have seen people selling these items (whenever they appear) on eBay and other auction sites at very high price. I understand that like Gandhi anything related to INA/IIL or Subhas Chandra Bose is now days difficult to procure and they have been becoming costly year by year. Still, I think some of the gentlemen (sellers) on eBay have become greedy. For example, I bought this item at reasonable rate and when I saw similar item for sale later on eBay, the price was at least 6 times more than what I had paid! You can imagine the difference.

I just thought I should warn fellow readers from purchasing such items on any auction site. Just think for a moment before buying whether it is worth paying or not irrespective of emotions flowing in your mind :-) This way we all can keep these items within our reach and available for trade.

Shown above is the fund receipt issued in 1944 at Taiping, Mallaya. Even though the date mentioned on receipt indicates 24-12-04, seller from whom I bought it told it is 1944. I forgot to ask him how did 04 (which I thought to be year) change to 1944 (like everyone my mind was already over powered by my emotions :D

Well, I believe the seller. There are couple of reasons behind it. I will trace them through history lesson that I am about to start so anyone not interested can stop here. I sound like a prof in college :-) In professional life also, I have to wear sometimes 3GPP hat and act like a professor in front of customers.

History (Guest) Lecture - Prof. (self crowned) Jyotirmay Bareria

It was late 1941 when Japan unfolded its strategy in Asia to counter British forces. Based on experiences in China, the Imperial Japanese Army established a semi-autonomous unit to carry out liaison duties with local independence movements in Southeast Asia and transmit intelligence gathered from these movements back to the army command. Two such units were established before the outbreak of World War II in South-East Asia: the Minami Kikan and the F Kikan. We will focus on F Kikan in this post.

The Japanese IGHQ in October set up the Fujiwara Kikan, or the F-kikan, in Bangkok, Headed by the Major Fujiwara Iwaichi, chief of intelligence of the 15th army. He was tasked with intelligence gathering and contacting the Indian independence movement, the overseas Chinese and the Malayan Sultan with the aim of encouraging friendship and cooperation with Japan. Fujiwara's staff included five commissioned officers and two Hindi-speaking interpreters. Again, we will focus of F-Kikan's achievement with Indian Independence Movement. In reality also, they were hugely successful with Indian struggle than Malayan or Indonesians.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th Dec 1941, the 15th Army was tasked with the invasion of Malaya. During Malaya campaign, Fujiwara was camping in Alor Star when he learnt that there was a body of men from the 1/14 Punjab Regiment, with their British commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Fitzpatrick, sheltering in the jungle east of Alor Star. The British force in the northern part of the Malaya Peninsula including Captain Mohan Singh's battalion, 1/14 Punjab Regiment, was fleeing towards the south. Mohan Singh's own forces had been outgunned and destroyed by superior Japanese forces at Jitra.

After preliminary negotiations, Fujiwara went into the jungle to contact the unit, and persuaded the wounded battalion commander that it was his duty to his men to surrender. Captain Mohan Singh agreed with Fujiwara and was taken to Alor Star where he met Pritam Singh at a joint office of the F-Kikan and the Indian Independence League (IIL). Although Pritam Singh was involved to a large extent, it was Fujiwara who, with his sincerity of purpose and belief, convinced Mohan Singh to betray his oath to the Crown by uniting with the Japanese mission for the greater motive of Indian freedom.

Fujiwara accompanied Mohan Singh to the Tactical Headquarters of 25th army where they met General Yamashita. Impressed by general's sympathetic views, Mohan Singh returned to F-Kikan HQ with a set of propositions that had been drawn up by him after discussion with other Indian prisoners-of-war.

1) An Indian National Army (INA) should be formed.
2) The Indian National Army should cooperate with the already existing Indian Independence League.
3) Indian POWs should be put under Mohan Singh's command for the Indian National Army.
4) The Indian National Army should be considered by the Japanese as an allied force.

These principles were accepted, in principle, by Yamashita, and the Indian National Army was born at Taiping on 31st December 1941. Now you understand the importance of Taiping :-) To me, Taiping holds a very important place in history.

After the British surrender of Singapore in 1942, F-Kikan was dissolved, and replaced by a new liaison agency, the Iwakuro Kikan, or "I-Kikan", to coordinate activities between the Indian National Army and the Japanese army.

Of course later, INA was put under supreme commander Subhas Chandra Bose. There is more history behind it. I will shed more light on exploits of INA under Mohan Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose in future posts (next class :-) when I share IIL/INA war propaganda leaflets.

For now, go ahead and read Wikipedia and other links to lighten yourself :D

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