It was on April 14, 1944 in Moirang Manipur that the flag of India was first hoisted in mainland India by Indian National Army.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had already on December 29, 1943, declared a part of India independent by announcing Andaman and Nicobar islands free of British rule. With Japanese support, he had announced setting up India’s government-in-exile and unfurled the national flag in Port Blair at Gymkhana Club (later named Netaji stadium).
As Indians, many of us fail to realise the impact of what these freedom fighters did for us nearly 75 years ago because the true history has never been publicised by vested interests, including historians owing allegiance to Nehru family.
The freedom that we take for granted today has been given to us by people who are no longer alive to tell us how they lived each day during those tough and trying times.
We must remember not only the well-known freedom fighters, but also those who died in the freedom struggle without having their names honoured.
The fact is countless ordinary Indians have made sacrifices for our freedom. Our Independence was won due to the efforts of this silent army that trudged difficult paths and endured hardships, without a thought for praise or reward.
Today, very few of these foot soldiers exist. Nearly all of that generation have died.
Even those that are alive are old, ailing, distressed, lonely, and very, very disillusioned.
They had not expected this, not after months and years of sacrifice and deprivation. They had dreamt of a free India, of a glorious national future, of a welcome reserved for heroes who had sacrificed their all for their nation.
What the Indian National Army soldiers got instead were a “Red Fort trial”, “dishonourable discharge from an army” that refused to accept them even after Independence, no pension and a swift disappearance from an extremely short public memory.
It is our national duty that today, in the age of social media, that we try to not just dig their names and pictures and publicise them, but also fight for a nationwide recognition and mention in all history books as true heroes of Indian independence.