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Japanese ate Indian PoWs, used them as live targets in WWII

Irfan Baloch

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NEW DELHI: On April 2, 1946, the Reuters correspondent in Melbourne, Australia, cabled a short message, which was carried by all newspapers a day later, including The Times of India. It read:

“The Japanese Lieutenant Hisata Tomiyasu found guilty of the murder of 14 Indian soldiers and of cannibalism at Wewak (New Guinea) in 1944 has been sentenced to death by hanging, it is learned from Rabaul.” The nationalist narrative has long projected the Second World War as a clash between the patriots of the Indian National Army (INA), supported by the Japanese Empire, and the evil British Empire. The soldiers of the Indian Army who fought for the British are immediately dismissed as stooges of the Raj. But the refusal of many who were taken prisoner to renege on their oaths of loyalty in the face of extreme torture also showed remarkable bravery.

After the fall of Singapore on February 15, 1942, 40,000 men of the Indian Army became prisoners of war (PoWs). Some 30,000 of them joined the INA. But those who refused were destined for torture in the Japanese concentration camps. They were first sent to transit camps in Batavia (now Djakarta) and Surabaya from where they were packed off to New Guinea, New Britain, and Bougainvillea. <br> At the camps, they made no distinction between Indian officers and men. Officers would be slapped across the face or beaten up with sticks for the slightest error made by their men —error in this case being a tired soldier taking a moment’s rest while on double fatigue duty, or a sick soldier failing to salute a Japanese officer. Very often, work parties of haggard men would be taken away from the camps to the shooting range where they would be used as live targets for new Japanese infantry recruits to improve their marksmanship. Soldiers who were not killed in the firing but wounded were bayoneted to death.

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Indian Army PoWs made live targets for new Japanese infantry recruits,

It was a never-ending horror for those who were shipped out to the Pacific islands. “On the ship that took them to the Admiralties, two thousand were herded below deck like cattle, were allowed on the hatchways only once a day…” The Times of India reported on May 16, 1944. On another ship, a certain Captain Pillay, an Army doctor, was told by the Japanese that “water and air was not for the prisoners”. With “just two cups of water in 24 hours”, the men were forced to drink the saline seawater. Many didn’t survive the journey. On November 14, 1945, Lieutenant C M Nigam of 2/17 Dogras, who was among the 1,300 rescued Indian PoWs brought to Bombay, told The Times of India how he and others had refused to join the INA and were “packed like sardines on a hell ship, the Matsui Maru”, which took 56 days to reach Rabaul. “Conditions on board were really horrible. In an extremely narrow space, only one-eighth of the whole party were able to lie down and sleep, while the other seven eights had to stand. The food supply dwindled on the voyage. After the first ten days, we were given rice and salt and occasionally we were issued with seaweed for cooking purposes. This was quite uneatable,” Lieutenant Nigam had said.

That TOI report went on to detail the privations of the Indian prisoners in the camps: “At Rabaul, their normal working day was from 10 to 12 hours, but on days when heavy bombing raids were put in by the Americans, they would work from 12 to 14 hours. Towards the end, their diet consisted of sweet potatoes and tapioca. It was only by stealing livestock and small quantities of rice that the men were able to exist. Men caught or even suspected of stealing food were shot.” The truth about the claim can be found in the proceedings of the Gozawa case (No. 235/813) of the Singapore war crimes trials conducted by the British. This was, in fact, the first case that was tried from January 21 to February 1, 1946 and had 10 accused, four of them officers of the Imperial Japanese Army. They were accused of ill-treatment of Indian PoWs on way to and at Bebelthuap Palau, causing death to many by imposing severe hardships and beatings, and also executing Sepoy Mohammed Shafi of the Indian Army by beheading for allegedly trying to escape; eight others were beaten to death for allegedly stealing sugar from the stores.

At Wewak in New Guinea too, Indian PoWs were treated worse than beasts of burden. They were made to work 12-14 hours and were left exposed to Allied air raids. The senior-most Japanese officer here was one Colonel Takano, who even flogged men sick with beri beri for “working slowly”. The Indian officers of these so-called working parties demanded better conditions and fair treatment as PoWs under international law (Geneva Convention). According to Australian historian Professor Peter Stanley, the Indian officers gave a written petition in English to Takano in July, 1943. The Japanese colonel was so angry to see it that he paraded all of them before him and told them that they had no rights as they had surrendered unconditionally. He also called them “traitors of Asia and India”. Harsher conditions were imposed on the men.

Then in one Allied strafing raid, five Indian PoWs were killed and 13 others injured. Takano didn’t let their wounds be treated. Instead, he threw sand at the men crying in pain and told them to shut up as it was their “Churchill and Roosevelt who did this” to them. All the men died later of infection. The PoWs gave another petition, this time drafted by Captain Nirpal Chand of 6th battalion, 14 Punjab Regiment. When the Japanese refused again, this KCIO (King’s Commissioned Indian Officer — such officers could also command European troops) organized a hunger strike. Despite Japanese threats, the men refused to eat until their demands were met. The Japanese eventually relented, but not for long. Captain Chand was executed on April 22, 1944, for “inciting his men to rebel”. The Japanese officers later tried for Chand’s death by Australians told the court that the Indian officer was given the opportunity to change his mind, but he had refused, so he was executed in a “lawful and honourable” way. It took two strikes with the gunto to sever Chand’s head. Jemadar Chint Singh, a VCO who testified against the Japanese, told Australian daily The Age in an interview dated June 7, 1947, Captain Chand’s last words to his men:

“Don’t worry. If I am killed, some of you will see the good times which are ahead and tell your tales. The Japs cannot finish the whole lot. If I die for your rightful demands, I shall consider it a great honour and credit to me.” <br> A similar “gallant tale” was reported by The Times of India on September 10, 1945, from Manila, Philippines. Some of the 330 rescued Indians on board the medical ship Oxfordshire told about Captain Mateen Ahmed Ansari of 5th battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment. He was a KCIO and the nephew of the Nizam of Hyderabad. They called him “one of the greatest heroes of the prison camps at Hong Kong”. <br> Ansari was arrested on April 1, 1943, on suspicion of participating in a group attempt to escape. The Japanese soon found out about Ansari’s royal lineage and pressured him to convince Indian troops to switch their loyalty to the Japanese. Ansari refused to break his Indian Army oath. “The Japanese tortured him with beatings, the water cure, and by plunging an electric plug into his bare back. These tortures failed to break the Indian’s spirit. So the Japanese began a systematic reduction of his rations, beginning with six ounces of rice a day. Finally, they told him that he had his choice of being beheaded or shot. The Indian replied that ‘beheading is a barbarous method, but as you are barbarians at heart, you will have to decide’. The Japanese then beheaded him,” TOI reported. Captain Ansari was awarded the George Cross for the “most conspicuous gallantry”.

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An emaciated Indian PoW from Hong Kong onboard the medical ship Oxfordshire (Getty Images)

The TOI report of May 16, 1944, also mentioned that the Indian soldiers “were victims of ‘indescribable indignities’ at the hands of their captors”. The chapter Indian POWs in the Pacific, 1941-45 by G J Douds, which is part of the 2007 book, Forgotten Captives in Japanese-Occupied Asia, edited by Kevin Blackburn and Karl Hack, elaborates on these indignities. “At Hansa Bay in New Guinea, Hindu prisoners were also severely beaten for their refusal to touch beef…the Japanese tried to prevent Muslims from fasting during Ramzan. Extra fatigues were imposed in a bid to enforce eating. The Muslims held out and the fast was eventually permitted; but in general no toleration was shown in religious matters,” reads a passage. <br> The Sikhs were particularly insulted for their long hair and beards. In February, 1944, eight rescued Sikh PoWs narrated their tales of suffering and about the indignities heaped on them. “We were locked in a room for a night and a day without water. Next day, when our mouths were very dry, they took us out and made a sport of plucking our beards. For food we were given dry bread, but before we could eat it our hands were tied behind our backs. We writhed in pain to get at the bread, which was placed in our laps. One Indian commissioned officer who asked for water was hit on the head and shot. Another was forced to drink large quantities, and when he had finished the Japanese jumped on his stomach until the water poured from his mouth, ears, nose, and eyes,” one of the men was quoted in the Canberra Times dated February 4, 1944. <br> The men further detailed how a Viceroy’s Commissioned Officer (VCO) was hung upside down alive and bayoneted by the Japanese who also pulled his heart out. <br> But the most spine-chilling of all Japanese atrocities was their practice of cannibalism. One of the first to level charges of cannibalism against the Japanese was Jemadar Abdul Latif of 4/9 Jat Regiment of the Indian Army, a VCO who was rescued by the Australians at Sepik Bay in 1945. He alleged that not just Indian PoWs but even locals in New Guinea were killed and eaten by the Japanese. “At the village of Suaid, a Japanese medical officer periodically visited the Indian compound and selected each time the healthiest men. These men were taken away ostensibly for carrying out duties, but they never reappeared,” the Melbourne correspondent of The Times, London, cabled this version of Jemadar Latif on November 5, 1946.

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Jemadar Abdul Latif of 4/9 Jat Regiment who was among the first to allege that the Japanese killed Indians and fed on them

Latif’s charges were buttressed by Captain R U Pirzai and Subedar Dr Gurcharan Singh. “Of 300 men who went to Wewak with me, only 50 got out. Nineteen were eaten. A Jap doctor —Lieutenant Tumisa, formed a party of three or four men and would send an Indian outside the camp for something. The Japs immediately would kill him and eat the flesh from his body. The liver, muscles from the buttocks, thighs, legs, and arms would be cut off and cooked,” Captain Pirzai told Australian daily The Courier-Mail in a report dated August 25, 1945.

Then there were more similar testimonies by PoWs interned in other camps, such as Havildar Changdi Ram and Lance Naik Hatam Ali, who also gave details of cannibalism practised in their camps. John Baptist Crasta of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps, also a PoW at Rabaul, wrote in his memoir (Eaten by the Japanese: The Memoir of an Unknown Indian Prisoner of War) about Japanese eating Indian soldiers. He was made part of the Allied investigation into Japanese war crimes later. <br> All these soldiers gave sworn testimonies to the war crimes investigation commissions set up by the Allies, based on which several Japanese officers and men were tried. The senior-most Japanese officer found guilty of cannibalism and hanged was Lieutenant General Yoshio Tachibana.

The Japanese, though, were always dismissive of these charges. Then in 1992, a Japanese historian named Toshiyuki Tanaka found incontrovertible evidence of Japanese atrocities, including cannibalism, on Indians and other Allied prisoners. His initial findings were printed by The Japan Times. In 1997, Tanaka came out with his book, Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes In World War II. There, he refuted the Allies’ conclusion that the Japanese resorted to cannibalism when their supplies dwindled. Tanaka said this was done under the supervision of senior officers and was perceived as a power projection tool.

UK-based military historian Amarpal Sidhu recalls his grandparents, who lived in Singapore during WWII, telling him about the fear psychosis among the Indian community in Singapore regarding Japanese cannibalism. “The issue of cannibalism and other atrocities committed against Indian POWs by the Japanese although widely known and talked about still remains one of the least researched and documented aspects of the last great war. As the last veterans of the World War die out, many first-hand accounts of these events are vanishing fast without being recorded,” Sidhu told TOI. <br> The Japanese also tried to impose their military drill and words of command on the Indian PoWs. It’s recorded that Captain Pirzai and other officers refused. The furious Japanese subjected the whole unit to savage treatment, but still, the men didn’t yield, saying they were Indian Army officers and men and would only follow the drill of their army. <br> Another similar incident occurred At Komoriyama in New Britain in 1945. There, men of the 5/11 Sikh Regiment were given ‘good conduct’ badges to wear. The Indian officers protested, saying that they were men of the Indian Army and they would wear only badges and uniform worn in that army. The men were threatened, but they didn’t budge. Then a machinegun was brought forward and the Japanese threatened to shoot down all. The Sikhs still didn’t budge. This went on for five days at the end of which the Japanese lost patience and flogged most of the men till they passed out. <br> Only 5,500 Indians came out of Japanese captivity alive. And despite all the hardships, the men refused to break their Indian Army oath and join the Japanese-sponsored Indian Independence League or INA. What emerges from all these recorded incidents is a picture of amazing fortitude shown by Indian PoWs. &#8203;A kind of professionalism and apolitical behaviour that perhaps still characterises the Indian Army of today.

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Soldiers who didn't die in the firing being bayoneted to death. Different historians have come up with different explanations for this.

Some say it was because the men, at least the officers, were highly Anglicised Sandhurst-trained men who also came from families that had a history of generations of loyal service to the British. But in the words of Claude Auchinleck, these men didn’t have any particular loyalty towards Britain.



The men were loyal to each other, to their regiments, to their officers. It was this loyalty that cemented such a diverse army like the Indian Army together. This loyalty, coupled with a strong sense of Indian identity, which had become stronger due to the ongoing National Movement back home, may have made the men endure all sorts of hardship. And it is this strong sense of Indian identity in the army that would shake up the Raj. <br> When India became independent in 1947, these same British-trained officers and men inherited a colonial army and transformed it into a national army that became the muse of patriots of all ages almost overnight.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...live-targets-in-wwii/articleshow/40017577.cms

Why did the Japanese army airdrop this poster over Assam in 1944?

the charge of cannibalism is new to me.
about live target practice I can belive that because Japanese used to test their Katana on prisoners.
since captives were considered like cattle.
I don't know if this act against Indians was special because they committed war crimes against other eastern countries too.
this act was not out of malice but as a belief and right for being superior Japanese.

isolated acts of cannibalism are reported elsewhere as well. but they were not a state policy. it may be an intimidation tactic or propogenda to break the will of civilians and soldiers facing Japan.

I am surprised how this thing is missed out when every other dark deed is listed.
 

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‘Kill all the British sucking Indian blood’: The canny poster propaganda used by Japan in WWII
The Japanese astutely evoked moments of misery under the Raj to exhort Indians to rise up against the British.


‘Kill all the British sucking Indian blood’: The canny poster propaganda used by Japan in WWII

A woman, perhaps the embodiment of Mother India, holds a dying man admist a sea of bodies at the Jallianwalah Bagh massacre, 1919.

The text in Hindi and Bengali reads, “Any Indian whose blood doesn’t boil at the memory of the Amritsar massacre cannot be called an Indian. This is the golden opportunity for revenge.” | Courtesy: National Army Museum, London.

Against a blood-splattered background, a brown, turbaned man is shown with his forefinger outstretched, angrily pointing, almost out of the poster and at the viewer. Upon closer examination, the gory red background reveals piles of skulls and massacred bodies. The text, appearing in sections across the page in Hindi and Bengali, recalls pivotal moments in the subcontinent’s history: the 1765 Massacre in Dhaka, the first war of Indian independence in 1857, the 1919 Amritsar massacre, and the First World War sacrifices in 1918. The singular thing that all these crucial moments have in common is the failings of, and the conflict caused by, the British in India, and as if addressing that, the final piece of text in the centre of the poster reads, “The English claim to understand and care for Indians. But the 300 years of exploitation…”

This poster, dropped into Assam by the Japanese in 1944, is eerily reminiscent of others from history. It has the same directness of War Minister Lord Kitchener’s “BRITONS [Kitchener] Wants You!”, which was published in 1914 as a call to join the First World War and inspired Uncle Sam’s infamous “I want YOU for U.S. Army”. It has the same urgency. Above all, the poster is a crystalline example of the psychological advertising and conversion attempts employed by the Axis powers in the Indian subcontinent during World War II.
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“During the Second World War, the British and Japanese governments fought a fierce propaganda war in South Asia to influence mass opinion in their favour,” said Parthasarathi Bhaumik, assistant professor of comparative literature at Jadavpur University and a British Library Chevening Fellow. “They exploited all available media – wireless, film, print and live performances... The aim was to discredit the opponent and to project their own side as the true friend of South Asian people.”

This poster recalls pivotal moments in the subcontinent’s history and highlights the failings of the British in India.

India dragged in

On September 3, 1939, at 8.30 pm, the voice of Viceroy Lord Lithlingow rang through the frequencies of All India Radio, announcing that His Majesty’s Government was at war with Germany – and as a colony of that government, so was India. “I am confident,” he said, “that India will make her contribution to the side of human freedom rather than against the rule of force.”

This announcement sent leaders of the Indian National Congress into rage and frenzy. India’s involvement in the Second World War had begun, although the Viceroy had neither consulted his advisors nor the Legislative Assembly or Indian leaders. The Congress leaders were torn. On the one hand was the hostility towards Nazi oppression and a desire to end it, and on the other was the sheer necessity of non-cooperation with the British Empire unless they took concrete steps towards Home Rule in India. How could one expect the soldiers of India to die for the freedom a nation that denied them the very same right?

Decades before, during the Great War, 1,302,394 Indian soldiers had travelled across the black waters to fight for King and Country in unknown lands. For the most part, the recruitment was voluntary, since this was a time when there was a belief in the rule of the King and notions of izzat, or honour. But World War II, set in motion against the backdrop of the struggle for independence in India, was not the same. Though nearly 2.5 million Indian soldiers in all participated in the war, the British were tormented by events on the home front, such as the Quit India Movement in 1942 and the Great Bengal Famine in 1943. What was also harrying them was the rise of the Indian Independence League, a political organisation that was headed by leaders like Subash Chandra Bose and Rash Behari Bose, who were collaborating with the Axis powers.
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India was of interest to all. Its strategic location, its abundance of natural and financial resources and armed power had proved it to be an attractive territory in the South Asian theatre of the War, for both the Allied powers to retain, as well as Axis powers to gain.
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A folio in the British Library, labelled Japanese Policy in Regard to India since the outbreak of the War of Greater East Asia up to the end of May 1942, has detailed and chronological notes provided to British officers on the activities of Japan, including its occupation of Malaya (1941) and Burma (1942). The Japanese were at the very threshold of India, threatening the Empire’s dominance. There are records of captured Sikh soldiers from these wars being given the option of either joining the Indian Independence League under Bose, or facing persecution, imprisonment or execution. “Japan openly showed her interest in India,” the document reads, “and Premier General Tojo publicly announced that the Indians should take this opportunity and revolt in order to drive the British out of India, thereby gaining for themselves, their independence.”

This interest in India led the Japanese to start a fascinating propaganda effort to convert, as if it was for the benefit of India herself, the Indian soldiers and civilians to the side of the Axis powers. In Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War, journalist-writer Raghu Karnad describes how after the fall of the city of Rangoon to the Japanese, the air was filled with “thousands of fluttering leaflets. These were propaganda cartoons...depicting starving Indians ground under the heels of fat imperialists or turbaned jawans being kicked out of evacuation lorries by blond-haired Tommies”.

Five Asian men, including a Japanese soldier, raise a toast together, suggesting that all Asians can live in harmony. The text on the poster reads, “This is an apt occasion to drive out the English from Asia.”

Psychological armoury

The National Army Museum in London holds the original copies of several of these propaganda leaflets – known as Dentan in Japanese – printed on durable, long-weave Japanese paper. These can be quite obviously divided into batches based on the style of imagery and printing technique, but it is clear that within each batch, the scribe and the artist have remained consistent. The pro-Japanese, anti-British posters detail the discrimination, racism, xenophobia and inequality propagated by the Empire, and focus on “Asia for Asians” or the idea of racial grouping. A poster shows five different Asian men, including a Japanese soldier, all united and raising a toast, suggesting that Asians can live in harmony. An injured figure (donning the British flag) is falling from the globe. The text reads, “This is an apt occasion to drive out the English from Asia.”

These posters emphasise on intense psychological conversion, and they were distributed to troops and civilians, particularly along the border regions. They also fluttered down from circling airplanes across the battlefields in Europe, North Africa and Burma, hoping to convert the Indian soldier. In The Raj at War: A People’s History of India’s Second World War, historian Yasmin Khan writes, “Although [the troops] had been trained to ignore Axis propaganda, some of it reaching the Indian troops was extremely unnerving...it was directed at the weakest spots in the psychological armoury of the sepoys. It played on their homesickness, anxieties about hunger and home and on their desire for the war to end.”
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Britain all but destroyed the cotton industry, wreaking havoc in the lives of mulmul workers.
Featuring Prime Minister Winston Churchill cutting off the hands of a mulmul weaver, a poster depicts how the British "deindustrialised India".
Britain all but destroyed the cotton industry, wreaking havoc in the lives of mulmul workers.
Featuring Prime Minister Winston Churchill cutting off the hands of a mulmul weaver, a poster depicts how the British "deindustrialised India".

Each poster evokes a moment of misery under the Empire, and some even attempt to give alternative outcomes, should India free herself from the shackles of the Raj. The approach to South Asian figures is strange and sardonic, in a sweeping, over-generalised way – men and women drawn out as dark and meagre, with protruding eyes and a pointy chin. The highly stylised approach is evocative of cartoons, even manga, in places. The colours, still remarkably well-preserved, are often either garish or muted in tones – depending upon the printing techniques of lithography or offset.

Several figures are repeated. Among them are the rotund, crude caricature of Winston Churchill – portrayed as the ambassador of the Empire – and the figure of a dark, sparsely-clothed, furious-looking Indian, who is often holding a weapon over the British Prime Minister. This dark, turbaned figure, appearing time and time again, can be viewed as a metaphor for self-empowerment against the Empire.
There is a desperate image of a woman – perhaps the embodiment of Mother India – holding a dying body and standing among a sea of bodies at the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919. In the background can be seen a slew of Indians holding sickles and other weapons, a fluttering tiranga with Gandhi’s chakra emerging from within the crowd, chasing uniformed men carrying rifles. The text in Hindi and Bengali reads, “Any Indian whose blood doesn’t boil at the memory of the Amritsar massacre cannot be called an Indian. This is the golden opportunity for revenge.” This can be seen as a haunting reminder of Jallianwala Bagh, particularly juxtaposed against the fact that soldiers, fighting in World War I for the British, would have only just returned home to be greeted by news of the massacre. The sheer consideration for detail and nuances from history in the poster is really quite remarkable.

With Churchill at the centre of a spider's web surrounded by peace-loving locals, a poster calls for Indians to "...awake, arise and destroy the English shackles”.

In another image, Churchill can be seen at the centre of a web, his head placed upon the body of a spider that has spun a web of submission. In his hands is a bag of gold coins – riches from the subcontinent – and around him are submissive figures of Indians in pleading or praying positions. They are clothed like ascetics, and their hands are shown folded in devotion, portraying the peace-loving nature of the locals. The caption, when translated, reads, “An unprecedented opportunity to win freedom presents itself. Awake, arise and destroy the English shackles.”

Another poster shows Churchill seated at a table eating meat carved in the shape of India – allegorical of the sheer consumption of the subcontinent by the Empire – while a British officer carves the form of a Union Jack into the back of a withering Indian, whose hands and feet are bound with chains. Behind Churchill is a dark figure, holding a stick and coming towards him in anger. The text reads, “Beat the devil with sticks and save India.”

Yet another poster evokes the tragedy of the Great Bengal Famine, depicting a British couple, possibly based on Churchill and his wife, indulging in a lavish meal of succulent meat and wine, while beneath the dinner table lie starved Indians. The text reads, “Kill all the British who are sucking Indian blood.”

The tragedy of the Great Bengal Famine is evoked with a poster depicting a British couple, possibly based on Churchill and his wife, indulging in a lavish meal. Emaciated Indians lie under the table.
A poster with Churchill eating a piece of meat that is carved in the shape of India alludes to the sheer consumption of the subcontinent by the Empire. The text reads, “Beat the devil with sticks and save India."
The tragedy of the Great Bengal Famine is evoked with a poster depicting a British couple, possibly based on Churchill and his wife, indulging in a lavish meal. Emaciated Indians lie under the table.
A poster with Churchill eating a piece of meat that is carved in the shape of India alludes to the sheer consumption of the subcontinent by the Empire. The text reads, “Beat the devil with sticks and save India."


There is another image that shows the thumbs of mulmul workers being cut in Dhaka and their looms destroyed so they can no longer weave the historic cloth locally. This leaflet referenced the “deindustrialisation of India”, where Britain all but destroyed the cotton industry by imposing export duties and forcing the population to purchase imported British cotton. A similar image shows Churchill himself cutting off the hands of a weaver. There is another one that depicts what the conditions of life are under the British rule – death, disease and famine – and what they could be, should India gain independence – peace and prosperity.

There is a sole poster depicting a fluttering Japanese flag along with its grand armies – taking up more than half the page, a sign of the vastness of support and power – and the flags of Britain and America in another corner – much smaller and meeker in comparison. In the foreground, Churchill can be seen treating shackled Indians like slaves, and perhaps for the first time in this poster, one can see a difference in the kinds of facial features of the Indians, representing, we can assume, different communities. Behind Churchill, as always, is the figure of the dark turbaned man.
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A poster shows Churchill treating shackled Indians like slaves.
A poster compares how miserable life is under the British rule and what it could be, should India gain independence.
A poster shows Churchill treating shackled Indians like slaves.
A poster compares how miserable life is under the British rule and what it could be, should India gain independence.
 

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What is striking is the combined use of language and historical imagery in these posters, which served a two-fold purpose – to lure the common man with the prospect of a better life free from the Empire, and secondly, to attempt to convert the sepoys to the side of the Axis powers. Propaganda aimed at civilians seems to be mostly in Hindi, Bengali or Burmese and evokes plight and strife. In contrast, propaganda aimed towards the sepoys – martial races – seems to be in Urdu, the language most commonly read across the fighting belt of Undivided Punjab.

In this strand of propaganda, historian Yasmin Khan discusses one poster with the omnipresent figure of the sepoy’s wife. There is a chubby child in her arms and one of the Urdu captions on the page reads: “After bidding farewell to you, we kept on looking for you on the horizon.” The poster is labelled Milap, or reunion. There is no text in Gurmukhi or Nepalese, and so one can assume that the Axis powers knew it would be near-impossible to convert the Sikh and Gurkha soldiers, who since the Revolt of 1857, had remained loyal to the British Army.

So who was helping create these images? A series of posters bears the signature of the “Azad Hindostan League”. They are mostly text-based, appealing to fellow Indians in several languages (Urdu, Bengali, Burmese, English) to join their cause for independence, and help Nippon – Japan – in driving out the Devil – England – from India. The handwriting seems amateurish for a local and in places, reminiscent of the finesse of Japanese calligraphy, particularly in the smaller lines of text. There are several instances of hyphenation, line-breaks or merging of words in unusual places. In light of these oddities, it might be fair to conclude then that even if members of the Azad Hindostan League were consulted in the creation of these posters, it was the Japanese hand that rendered them.
An appeal to Indians to join Nippon – Japan – in helping it drive out the Devil – England – from India.


What is striking is the combined use of language and historical imagery in these posters, which served a two-fold purpose – to lure the common man with the prospect of a better life free from the Empire, and secondly, to attempt to convert the sepoys to the side of the Axis powers. Propaganda aimed at civilians seems to be mostly in Hindi, Bengali or Burmese and evokes plight and strife. In contrast, propaganda aimed towards the sepoys – martial races – seems to be in Urdu, the language most commonly read across the fighting belt of Undivided Punjab.

In this strand of propaganda, historian Yasmin Khan discusses one poster with the omnipresent figure of the sepoy’s wife. There is a chubby child in her arms and one of the Urdu captions on the page reads: “After bidding farewell to you, we kept on looking for you on the horizon.” The poster is labelled Milap, or reunion. There is no text in Gurmukhi or Nepalese, and so one can assume that the Axis powers knew it would be near-impossible to convert the Sikh and Gurkha soldiers, who since the Revolt of 1857, had remained loyal to the British Army.

So who was helping create these images? A series of posters bears the signature of the “Azad Hindostan League”. They are mostly text-based, appealing to fellow Indians in several languages (Urdu, Bengali, Burmese, English) to join their cause for independence, and help Nippon – Japan – in driving out the Devil – England – from India. The handwriting seems amateurish for a local and in places, reminiscent of the finesse of Japanese calligraphy, particularly in the smaller lines of text. There are several instances of hyphenation, line-breaks or merging of words in unusual places. In light of these oddities, it might be fair to conclude then that even if members of the Azad Hindostan League were consulted in the creation of these posters, it was the Japanese hand that rendered them.
An appeal to Indians to join Nippon – Japan – in helping it drive out the Devil – England – from India.

Though this paper war is fascinating and a remarkable attempt at conversion of allegiances, it did not yield the desired effect it had intended. In retaliation, the British embarked on their own endeavour, printing and distributing pro-British, anti-Japanese and anti-German flyers within India and Burma, hoping to keep the loyalty of their most precious colony.

The folio from the British Library, near the conclusion, reads, “Japan has so far miscalculated...this wishful thinking led her to believe that the occupation of India would be a simple and an easy matter, but...Japan has been forced to call a temporary halt to her plans.” Ultimately though, the Second World War flattened out the Raj, leaving England a victor on the war front but a pauper almost everywhere else. The crumbling structures of imperial governance – no doubt, made weaker by all forms of rebellion, including the perpetuating propaganda from the Axis powers – paved the way for eventual Home Rule in 1947.



Images courtesy National Army Museum, London, and museum curator Jasdeep Singh. Translations from Bengali to English by Sujaan Mukherjee.
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Propaganda wars: India as a contested site between rival imperialist powers
Diya Gupta, King’s College London

Undivided India in the 1940s witnessed war within, and war without. The British Raj was riven into two, threatened at home and abroad. A gigantic Indian Army, swollen to 2.5 million men by 1944, was sent to fight in theatres of war across the world – Italy, North Africa, Greece, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Burma, Singapore, Malaya – to combat the threat of the expansionist Axis forces. The external war brought in its wake internal foment: India had been declared a belligerent in September 1939 by the Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, who had failed to consult Indian political leadership on this decision. The Quit India movement, beginning as protests against this undemocratic involvement in the Second World War, evolved into mass agitations against 200 years of British colonial rule, suppressed in turn by an occupation-style use of force. Indeed, 57 infantry battalions of the Indian Army were diverted from international theatres of war and deployed within India, to restrain the August kranti or revolution.

The battle lines were clearly drawn: the Empire needed men and resources for the war; it would not be quitting India just yet. India’s home front, in its turbulent and violent ways, reflected the battle front. War inexorably seeped into the language and politics, occupations and diet, lives and deaths of Indians; in front lines formed at home and in those thousands of miles away.

Yet India could not be divided into a neat binary of those who supported and those who opposed the war, neither did such political positions remain fixed for the duration of the war. Discourses on nationalism jostled against colonialism, communism intersected with anti-fascism, military intervention opposed non-violent forms of protest in independence movements. These intersections between political positions and ‘causes’ generated a shifting landscape of motivation during the Second World War years that made it difficult to affix a singular identity on the Indian people. As journalist Raghu Karnad highlights in his 2015 book Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War, where he traces the wartime experiences of three of his family members, the word ‘freedom’ itself kept altering in ideological meaning – ‘Indians, who had spent two decades entering the river of nationalist sentiment, now found its flow violently reversed or eddying in confusion. The freedom struggle was a diversion from the fight against fascism, or vice versa. The word “freedom” pulled one way and then the other. It meant freedom for the men of Europe. It meant freedom from the men of Europe. Likewise “victory”: frowning black Vs 2 appeared amidst the newsprint and on walls, everywhere, demanding that the populace believe the war their own.’ 1

It is in a nuanced understanding of this complex political landscape that I believe the value of the BBC Monitoring archives lies for researchers of South Asia. Mining the rich seams of the BBC Monitoring archives, researchers will discover broadcasts that highlight the subcontinent’s critical, and largely unrecognised, role in the war for both the British Empire and the Axis powers, particularly Germany and Japan. The collection thus has the potential to enrich and develop the emergent historical narrative of the Second World War outside the dominant Eurocentric frame, as well as offer insights into the conflicting political positions of 1940s India little recognised by South Asian nationalist historiography.

The variety and richness of the broadcasts are reflected in the languages used – English, Hindustani and ‘Persian’ (modern-day Urdu) – as well as the range of stations from where broadcasts are made. For the purposes of this paper, I have selected three examples of British broadcasts made in English for an Indian audience, which are grouped under the heading India: the war at home; followed by three German broadcasts made in Hindustani, which are grouped under the heading India: the war abroad. I will then reflect briefly on the intersections between the BBC Monitoring Archives collection and the visual propaganda material on India held by the Imperial War Museums.

1 Raghu Karnad, Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War (London: William Collins, 2015), p. 23. 3

India: the war at home

File reference: G122 – India in English This extract discusses the significant contribution made by Indian princes to war funds – ‘3 crores 16 lakhs and 69,000 rupees’, for example, would mean a modern-day contribution of over £12 million.2 Threatened by the political movements of the time – mainly rising nationalism – and dependent on the British Raj for survival, the European war becomes a moment of opportunity for the princes to demonstrate loyalty and, literally, to measure their value to the Empire. Indian princes were generous donors to the British for both world wars, thereby providing excellent propaganda material to demonstrate Indian allegiance to the British ‘cause’.

2 Crore and lakhs are units in the Indian numbering system, a core is equal to ten million and a lakh is equal to one hundred thousand. 4 File reference: G122 – India in English

The second and third extracts highlight the martial aspects of Indian support for the war. The largest volunteer army in the world – 2.5 million men – served for the British in the Second World War, and the broadcast of the Duke of Gloucester’s visit to India in June 1942 and his inspection of Indian troops cements the long-established role of the Indian Army as the perfectly crafted imperial tool. Broadcasting the exchange of messages in 1942 between the Duke and Commander-in-Chief, General Wavell, to the Indian people sustains these colonial hierarchies.

A line from the extract (see photograph above) reads: ‘He (the Duke of Gloucester) expressed his confidence that when these forces enter into battle, wherever it may be, they will prove themselves worthy of the great fighting traditions of the races to which they belong.’ This is an allusion to the colonial ‘martial races’ theory, according to which Indian people of certain ethnicities and religions were considered to be inherently more militaristic than others. With the Empire’s need for men during the Second World War, the theory entirely collapses, as men from all parts of India – including those who were underage or not physically fit enough – were now recruited into the army. The broadcast is therefore able to shed light on the ideological nature of the language being used here, and its role in promoting an established trajectory of Indian ‘loyalty’ towards the Raj. 5 File reference: G122 – India in English

Such expressions of loyalty are further established in the third extract from the highest authority of Empire himself – King George VI. I quote a section (see above photograph): ‘Our task is indeed a heavy one and I have been deeply moved by the way in which India has responded (in playing her part). This is due to their tradition of loyalty and (missing word) which is patent in their offer of men and money and personal service.’

Reading these transcripts, one may never think that a mere two months later, Mohandas Gandhi would be launching the Quit India movement – the largest concerted movement for Indian independence. The BBC Monitoring archives are therefore important in addressing the following questions: How are hierarchies of power perpetuated through national broadcasts? At the same time, how are these broadcasts testament to political instability and turbulence? And how does language function as a tool for propaganda?

To examine these questions from an anti-colonial perspective, I will now move to the second section of my paper – India: the war abroad. 6

India: the war abroad

File Reference: E212 and E214, Azad Hind broadcasts

The extract from this first transcript reveals the date to be the same as the Duke of Gloucester’s visit to India – June 1942. While the ceremonial trappings of statehood and Empire were being visually exhibited in India, revolutionary and nationalist ideas were contiguously dominating the airwaves. Subhas Chandra Bose, former President of the Indian National Congress – India’s leading political party up until the war years – advocated armed resistance against the British Empire, in contrast to Gandhian beliefs in non-violent resistance. Escaping house arrest in India, Bose, in a rather James-Bond-like series of adventures, journeyed to Germany. There, he headed the Indian Independence League, comprising Indian prisoners-of-war and expatriates who had defected to the Axis side.

This broadcast is from Zeesen in Germany, the language is Hindustani, and the contents highly subversive to the colonial power entrenched in India by the British Raj (see above photograph): ‘

The British Empire will soon be destroyed. Subhas Chandra Bose has stated that no power on earth can save it from destruction. The present war is giving Indians the last and best opportunity for achieving their freedom.’ This final sentence challenges the dominant Eurocentric narrative of the Second World War; this is the war viewed through the eyes of a colonised people – it is seen as an ‘opportunity’ for independence, for achieving lasting and transformative change in undivided India. As Sugata Bose says in his recent biography of Subhas Chandra Bose, entitled His 7 Majesty’s Opponent, “‘Subject peoples in Europe’s colonies knew that their destinies would unravel in conjunction with the global conflicts. Their dreams of liberty became mired in the battles between totalitarianisms of different ideological hues.’

3 File Reference: E212 and E214, Azad Hind broadcasts

The extract from the next transcript (see above photograph) addresses in more detail the question of the perceived Axis ‘sympathy’ for India, again being broadcast in Hindustani to India. It comments on Bose’s meeting with Hitler and Mussolini, and Indian ‘jubilation’ at this meeting. This broadcast endorses a different type of propaganda, one that troublingly connects the movement for Indian independence with Axis victories and a new world order, and provides symmetries between the Axis imperialist leaders and Bose:
‘A great Indian leader met European leaders who are struggling with Japan for the establishment of a New Order in the world. India’s destiny is closely connected with this New Order. This historic meeting proved that the Axis Powers fully sympathise with the Indians and their struggle for independence.’ 3 Sugata Bose, His Majesty’s Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle Against Empire (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2012), p. 87. 8 The final extract (see photograph above) is from one of Bose’s speeches to India, broadcast again from Zeesen in Hindustani in December 1942. The extract highlights the critical role played by broadcasts, and how they underpin propaganda, during the war: ‘Subhas Chandra Bose has again arrived in Berlin. His previous messages, broadcast from Berlin Radio, had a great effect on India and the world.’ The words written by hand just above Bose’s speech are particularly significant: ‘Only enemies of Britain and USA can help India.’ This handwritten sentence is the transcriber’s summary of Bose’s speech, perhaps, or Bose’s own heading that the original typed transcription may have omitted. It highlights a clear political positioning on Bose’s part in organising resistance to the Raj outside India.

The BBC Monitoring transcripts are significant in providing us with a granular view of undivided India in the final years of the British Empire, as well as glimpses into Bose’s life and political influence outside India. The materiality of the transcripts themselves also captures a sense of historical circumstance as lived experience. In their many amendments and corrections, these documents feel live’; almost manuscript-like in providing testimony to historical forces that shaped not only Europe but also the colonised world.

9 Poster © IWM

I would like to conclude by briefly commenting on the rich intersections between the BBC Monitoring transcripts and the Imperial War Museum’s own collection of propaganda pamphlets related to India. This wonderfully colourful cartoon-like depiction of Subhas Chandra Bose shows him heading the Indian National Army (formed from Indian prisoners-of-war and expatriates in Singapore), onwards towards Delhi to topple the British Raj. This is a Japanese propaganda pamphlet dropped, most likely, on the IndoBurmese border in 1944, where the Indian Army, along with other colonial and British troops, were massing to reclaim Burma. In Urdu, Hindustani and Bengali – three of the 10 most widely spoken Indian languages – the message is the same: ‘Come, march towards Delhi! Assemble below the Indian freedom flag under the leadership of Mr Subhas. Independence and freedom are now at your doorstep!’ Posters © IWM

And finally, this is the Japanese propaganda pamphlet that best encapsulates to me India’s position as a contested site between rival imperialist powers. Here is, on one end of the pamphlet, an Indian soldier, literally blind to the reality of his wartime effort, being driven forward by a highly caricatured whip-wielding Churchill. The soldier is stopped in his tracks by a stern-faced Japanese soldier at the Burma border. In Hindi and Bengali, the message on the pamphlet asks the question: ‘What will you gain if you fight against Japanese soldiers?’. The BBC Monitoring archives provide a rich variety of broadcasts that highlight the ways in which India debated for and against this very question.

https://www.iwm.org.uk/sites/defaul...een rival imperialist powers - Diya Gupta.pdf
 

magra

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NEW DELHI: On April 2, 1946, the Reuters correspondent in Melbourne, Australia, cabled a short message, which was carried by all newspapers a day later, including The Times of India. It read:

“The Japanese Lieutenant Hisata Tomiyasu found guilty of the murder of 14 Indian soldiers and of cannibalism at Wewak (New Guinea) in 1944 has been sentenced to death by hanging, it is learned from Rabaul.” The nationalist narrative has long projected the Second World War as a clash between the patriots of the Indian National Army (INA), supported by the Japanese Empire, and the evil British Empire. The soldiers of the Indian Army who fought for the British are immediately dismissed as stooges of the Raj. But the refusal of many who were taken prisoner to renege on their oaths of loyalty in the face of extreme torture also showed remarkable bravery.

After the fall of Singapore on February 15, 1942, 40,000 men of the Indian Army became prisoners of war (PoWs). Some 30,000 of them joined the INA. But those who refused were destined for torture in the Japanese concentration camps. They were first sent to transit camps in Batavia (now Djakarta) and Surabaya from where they were packed off to New Guinea, New Britain, and Bougainvillea. <br> At the camps, they made no distinction between Indian officers and men. Officers would be slapped across the face or beaten up with sticks for the slightest error made by their men —error in this case being a tired soldier taking a moment’s rest while on double fatigue duty, or a sick soldier failing to salute a Japanese officer. Very often, work parties of haggard men would be taken away from the camps to the shooting range where they would be used as live targets for new Japanese infantry recruits to improve their marksmanship. Soldiers who were not killed in the firing but wounded were bayoneted to death.

India reports another record daily rise in Covid-19 infections India reported a record daily increase of 234,692 Covid-19 infections over the last 24 hours taking the total tally to more than 1.45 crore cases, health ministry data showed on Saturday. It was the eighth record daily increase in the last nine days. The record rise has pushed India's Covid-19 tally to 1,45,26,609 cases. With 1,341 fatalities, the death toll stood at 1,75,649.

EC makes record seizure worth over Rs 1,000 crore in ongoing assembly elections Total seizures of unaccounted cash, liquor, drugs, freebies etc in the current polls to five state/UT assemblies have crossed Rs 1,000 crore, surpassing the figure recorded in all past assembly electoral processes. The cumulative seizures in the last round of these state polls in 2016 was just Rs 226 crore.

View attachment 734898
Indian Army PoWs made live targets for new Japanese infantry recruits,

It was a never-ending horror for those who were shipped out to the Pacific islands. “On the ship that took them to the Admiralties, two thousand were herded below deck like cattle, were allowed on the hatchways only once a day…” The Times of India reported on May 16, 1944. On another ship, a certain Captain Pillay, an Army doctor, was told by the Japanese that “water and air was not for the prisoners”. With “just two cups of water in 24 hours”, the men were forced to drink the saline seawater. Many didn’t survive the journey. On November 14, 1945, Lieutenant C M Nigam of 2/17 Dogras, who was among the 1,300 rescued Indian PoWs brought to Bombay, told The Times of India how he and others had refused to join the INA and were “packed like sardines on a hell ship, the Matsui Maru”, which took 56 days to reach Rabaul. “Conditions on board were really horrible. In an extremely narrow space, only one-eighth of the whole party were able to lie down and sleep, while the other seven eights had to stand. The food supply dwindled on the voyage. After the first ten days, we were given rice and salt and occasionally we were issued with seaweed for cooking purposes. This was quite uneatable,” Lieutenant Nigam had said.

That TOI report went on to detail the privations of the Indian prisoners in the camps: “At Rabaul, their normal working day was from 10 to 12 hours, but on days when heavy bombing raids were put in by the Americans, they would work from 12 to 14 hours. Towards the end, their diet consisted of sweet potatoes and tapioca. It was only by stealing livestock and small quantities of rice that the men were able to exist. Men caught or even suspected of stealing food were shot.” The truth about the claim can be found in the proceedings of the Gozawa case (No. 235/813) of the Singapore war crimes trials conducted by the British. This was, in fact, the first case that was tried from January 21 to February 1, 1946 and had 10 accused, four of them officers of the Imperial Japanese Army. They were accused of ill-treatment of Indian PoWs on way to and at Bebelthuap Palau, causing death to many by imposing severe hardships and beatings, and also executing Sepoy Mohammed Shafi of the Indian Army by beheading for allegedly trying to escape; eight others were beaten to death for allegedly stealing sugar from the stores.

At Wewak in New Guinea too, Indian PoWs were treated worse than beasts of burden. They were made to work 12-14 hours and were left exposed to Allied air raids. The senior-most Japanese officer here was one Colonel Takano, who even flogged men sick with beri beri for “working slowly”. The Indian officers of these so-called working parties demanded better conditions and fair treatment as PoWs under international law (Geneva Convention). According to Australian historian Professor Peter Stanley, the Indian officers gave a written petition in English to Takano in July, 1943. The Japanese colonel was so angry to see it that he paraded all of them before him and told them that they had no rights as they had surrendered unconditionally. He also called them “traitors of Asia and India”. Harsher conditions were imposed on the men.

Then in one Allied strafing raid, five Indian PoWs were killed and 13 others injured. Takano didn’t let their wounds be treated. Instead, he threw sand at the men crying in pain and told them to shut up as it was their “Churchill and Roosevelt who did this” to them. All the men died later of infection. The PoWs gave another petition, this time drafted by Captain Nirpal Chand of 6th battalion, 14 Punjab Regiment. When the Japanese refused again, this KCIO (King’s Commissioned Indian Officer — such officers could also command European troops) organized a hunger strike. Despite Japanese threats, the men refused to eat until their demands were met. The Japanese eventually relented, but not for long. Captain Chand was executed on April 22, 1944, for “inciting his men to rebel”. The Japanese officers later tried for Chand’s death by Australians told the court that the Indian officer was given the opportunity to change his mind, but he had refused, so he was executed in a “lawful and honourable” way. It took two strikes with the gunto to sever Chand’s head. Jemadar Chint Singh, a VCO who testified against the Japanese, told Australian daily The Age in an interview dated June 7, 1947, Captain Chand’s last words to his men:

“Don’t worry. If I am killed, some of you will see the good times which are ahead and tell your tales. The Japs cannot finish the whole lot. If I die for your rightful demands, I shall consider it a great honour and credit to me.” <br> A similar “gallant tale” was reported by The Times of India on September 10, 1945, from Manila, Philippines. Some of the 330 rescued Indians on board the medical ship Oxfordshire told about Captain Mateen Ahmed Ansari of 5th battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment. He was a KCIO and the nephew of the Nizam of Hyderabad. They called him “one of the greatest heroes of the prison camps at Hong Kong”. <br> Ansari was arrested on April 1, 1943, on suspicion of participating in a group attempt to escape. The Japanese soon found out about Ansari’s royal lineage and pressured him to convince Indian troops to switch their loyalty to the Japanese. Ansari refused to break his Indian Army oath. “The Japanese tortured him with beatings, the water cure, and by plunging an electric plug into his bare back. These tortures failed to break the Indian’s spirit. So the Japanese began a systematic reduction of his rations, beginning with six ounces of rice a day. Finally, they told him that he had his choice of being beheaded or shot. The Indian replied that ‘beheading is a barbarous method, but as you are barbarians at heart, you will have to decide’. The Japanese then beheaded him,” TOI reported. Captain Ansari was awarded the George Cross for the “most conspicuous gallantry”.

View attachment 734899
An emaciated Indian PoW from Hong Kong onboard the medical ship Oxfordshire (Getty Images)

The TOI report of May 16, 1944, also mentioned that the Indian soldiers “were victims of ‘indescribable indignities’ at the hands of their captors”. The chapter Indian POWs in the Pacific, 1941-45 by G J Douds, which is part of the 2007 book, Forgotten Captives in Japanese-Occupied Asia, edited by Kevin Blackburn and Karl Hack, elaborates on these indignities. “At Hansa Bay in New Guinea, Hindu prisoners were also severely beaten for their refusal to touch beef…the Japanese tried to prevent Muslims from fasting during Ramzan. Extra fatigues were imposed in a bid to enforce eating. The Muslims held out and the fast was eventually permitted; but in general no toleration was shown in religious matters,” reads a passage. <br> The Sikhs were particularly insulted for their long hair and beards. In February, 1944, eight rescued Sikh PoWs narrated their tales of suffering and about the indignities heaped on them. “We were locked in a room for a night and a day without water. Next day, when our mouths were very dry, they took us out and made a sport of plucking our beards. For food we were given dry bread, but before we could eat it our hands were tied behind our backs. We writhed in pain to get at the bread, which was placed in our laps. One Indian commissioned officer who asked for water was hit on the head and shot. Another was forced to drink large quantities, and when he had finished the Japanese jumped on his stomach until the water poured from his mouth, ears, nose, and eyes,” one of the men was quoted in the Canberra Times dated February 4, 1944. <br> The men further detailed how a Viceroy’s Commissioned Officer (VCO) was hung upside down alive and bayoneted by the Japanese who also pulled his heart out. <br> But the most spine-chilling of all Japanese atrocities was their practice of cannibalism. One of the first to level charges of cannibalism against the Japanese was Jemadar Abdul Latif of 4/9 Jat Regiment of the Indian Army, a VCO who was rescued by the Australians at Sepik Bay in 1945. He alleged that not just Indian PoWs but even locals in New Guinea were killed and eaten by the Japanese. “At the village of Suaid, a Japanese medical officer periodically visited the Indian compound and selected each time the healthiest men. These men were taken away ostensibly for carrying out duties, but they never reappeared,” the Melbourne correspondent of The Times, London, cabled this version of Jemadar Latif on November 5, 1946.

View attachment 734900
Jemadar Abdul Latif of 4/9 Jat Regiment who was among the first to allege that the Japanese killed Indians and fed on them

Latif’s charges were buttressed by Captain R U Pirzai and Subedar Dr Gurcharan Singh. “Of 300 men who went to Wewak with me, only 50 got out. Nineteen were eaten. A Jap doctor —Lieutenant Tumisa, formed a party of three or four men and would send an Indian outside the camp for something. The Japs immediately would kill him and eat the flesh from his body. The liver, muscles from the buttocks, thighs, legs, and arms would be cut off and cooked,” Captain Pirzai told Australian daily The Courier-Mail in a report dated August 25, 1945.

Then there were more similar testimonies by PoWs interned in other camps, such as Havildar Changdi Ram and Lance Naik Hatam Ali, who also gave details of cannibalism practised in their camps. John Baptist Crasta of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps, also a PoW at Rabaul, wrote in his memoir (Eaten by the Japanese: The Memoir of an Unknown Indian Prisoner of War) about Japanese eating Indian soldiers. He was made part of the Allied investigation into Japanese war crimes later. <br> All these soldiers gave sworn testimonies to the war crimes investigation commissions set up by the Allies, based on which several Japanese officers and men were tried. The senior-most Japanese officer found guilty of cannibalism and hanged was Lieutenant General Yoshio Tachibana.

The Japanese, though, were always dismissive of these charges. Then in 1992, a Japanese historian named Toshiyuki Tanaka found incontrovertible evidence of Japanese atrocities, including cannibalism, on Indians and other Allied prisoners. His initial findings were printed by The Japan Times. In 1997, Tanaka came out with his book, Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes In World War II. There, he refuted the Allies’ conclusion that the Japanese resorted to cannibalism when their supplies dwindled. Tanaka said this was done under the supervision of senior officers and was perceived as a power projection tool.

UK-based military historian Amarpal Sidhu recalls his grandparents, who lived in Singapore during WWII, telling him about the fear psychosis among the Indian community in Singapore regarding Japanese cannibalism. “The issue of cannibalism and other atrocities committed against Indian POWs by the Japanese although widely known and talked about still remains one of the least researched and documented aspects of the last great war. As the last veterans of the World War die out, many first-hand accounts of these events are vanishing fast without being recorded,” Sidhu told TOI. <br> The Japanese also tried to impose their military drill and words of command on the Indian PoWs. It’s recorded that Captain Pirzai and other officers refused. The furious Japanese subjected the whole unit to savage treatment, but still, the men didn’t yield, saying they were Indian Army officers and men and would only follow the drill of their army. <br> Another similar incident occurred At Komoriyama in New Britain in 1945. There, men of the 5/11 Sikh Regiment were given ‘good conduct’ badges to wear. The Indian officers protested, saying that they were men of the Indian Army and they would wear only badges and uniform worn in that army. The men were threatened, but they didn’t budge. Then a machinegun was brought forward and the Japanese threatened to shoot down all. The Sikhs still didn’t budge. This went on for five days at the end of which the Japanese lost patience and flogged most of the men till they passed out. <br> Only 5,500 Indians came out of Japanese captivity alive. And despite all the hardships, the men refused to break their Indian Army oath and join the Japanese-sponsored Indian Independence League or INA. What emerges from all these recorded incidents is a picture of amazing fortitude shown by Indian PoWs. &#8203;A kind of professionalism and apolitical behaviour that perhaps still characterises the Indian Army of today.

View attachment 734901
Soldiers who didn't die in the firing being bayoneted to death. Different historians have come up with different explanations for this.

Some say it was because the men, at least the officers, were highly Anglicised Sandhurst-trained men who also came from families that had a history of generations of loyal service to the British. But in the words of Claude Auchinleck, these men didn’t have any particular loyalty towards Britain.



The men were loyal to each other, to their regiments, to their officers. It was this loyalty that cemented such a diverse army like the Indian Army together. This loyalty, coupled with a strong sense of Indian identity, which had become stronger due to the ongoing National Movement back home, may have made the men endure all sorts of hardship. And it is this strong sense of Indian identity in the army that would shake up the Raj. <br> When India became independent in 1947, these same British-trained officers and men inherited a colonial army and transformed it into a national army that became the muse of patriots of all ages almost overnight.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...live-targets-in-wwii/articleshow/40017577.cms

Why did the Japanese army airdrop this poster over Assam in 1944?

There is no doubt that Japanese imperial army treated their POWs in the worst possible manner. It was regrettable that Indian soldiers were also at their receiving end.

On the other hand, I pity the Indian soldiers who fought and died for Imperial British rule in India. The ones who joined INA were sensible and did more for India then the hundreds of thousands who remained loyal to the British. It is a sad story that the INA soldiers were never allowed back in the Indian Army after Indian independence.
 

yuba

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There is no doubt that Japanese imperial army treated their POWs in the worst possible manner. It was regrettable that Indian soldiers were also at their receiving end.

On the other hand, I pity the Indian soldiers who fought and died for Imperial British rule in India. The ones who joined INA were sensible and did more for India then the hundreds of thousands who remained loyal to the British. It is a sad story that the INA soldiers were never allowed back in the Indian Army after Indian independence.
My grandads brother died in the war and they signed up because were told by doing so Independence would be granted afterwards. He never came back my grandad hated bose and the INA said they were signing up to kill fellow Indians and fighting for the enemy. What would the Japanese have done if they won? Japanese occupation would have been worse. My baba hated the Japanese said they, not men who kill soldiers that lay down their weapons. I don't hate the Japanese because that the past did not know INA soilders banned from joining after war good decision they broke an oath and fought for the enemy . I dont have anything against them because they also wanted independence.
 

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NEW DELHI: On April 2, 1946, the Reuters correspondent in Melbourne, Australia, cabled a short message, which was carried by all newspapers a day later, including The Times of India. It read:

“The Japanese Lieutenant Hisata Tomiyasu found guilty of the murder of 14 Indian soldiers and of cannibalism at Wewak (New Guinea) in 1944 has been sentenced to death by hanging, it is learned from Rabaul.” The nationalist narrative has long projected the Second World War as a clash between the patriots of the Indian National Army (INA), supported by the Japanese Empire, and the evil British Empire. The soldiers of the Indian Army who fought for the British are immediately dismissed as stooges of the Raj. But the refusal of many who were taken prisoner to renege on their oaths of loyalty in the face of extreme torture also showed remarkable bravery.

After the fall of Singapore on February 15, 1942, 40,000 men of the Indian Army became prisoners of war (PoWs). Some 30,000 of them joined the INA. But those who refused were destined for torture in the Japanese concentration camps. They were first sent to transit camps in Batavia (now Djakarta) and Surabaya from where they were packed off to New Guinea, New Britain, and Bougainvillea. <br> At the camps, they made no distinction between Indian officers and men. Officers would be slapped across the face or beaten up with sticks for the slightest error made by their men —error in this case being a tired soldier taking a moment’s rest while on double fatigue duty, or a sick soldier failing to salute a Japanese officer. Very often, work parties of haggard men would be taken away from the camps to the shooting range where they would be used as live targets for new Japanese infantry recruits to improve their marksmanship. Soldiers who were not killed in the firing but wounded were bayoneted to death.

India reports another record daily rise in Covid-19 infections India reported a record daily increase of 234,692 Covid-19 infections over the last 24 hours taking the total tally to more than 1.45 crore cases, health ministry data showed on Saturday. It was the eighth record daily increase in the last nine days. The record rise has pushed India's Covid-19 tally to 1,45,26,609 cases. With 1,341 fatalities, the death toll stood at 1,75,649.

EC makes record seizure worth over Rs 1,000 crore in ongoing assembly elections Total seizures of unaccounted cash, liquor, drugs, freebies etc in the current polls to five state/UT assemblies have crossed Rs 1,000 crore, surpassing the figure recorded in all past assembly electoral processes. The cumulative seizures in the last round of these state polls in 2016 was just Rs 226 crore.

View attachment 734898
Indian Army PoWs made live targets for new Japanese infantry recruits,

It was a never-ending horror for those who were shipped out to the Pacific islands. “On the ship that took them to the Admiralties, two thousand were herded below deck like cattle, were allowed on the hatchways only once a day…” The Times of India reported on May 16, 1944. On another ship, a certain Captain Pillay, an Army doctor, was told by the Japanese that “water and air was not for the prisoners”. With “just two cups of water in 24 hours”, the men were forced to drink the saline seawater. Many didn’t survive the journey. On November 14, 1945, Lieutenant C M Nigam of 2/17 Dogras, who was among the 1,300 rescued Indian PoWs brought to Bombay, told The Times of India how he and others had refused to join the INA and were “packed like sardines on a hell ship, the Matsui Maru”, which took 56 days to reach Rabaul. “Conditions on board were really horrible. In an extremely narrow space, only one-eighth of the whole party were able to lie down and sleep, while the other seven eights had to stand. The food supply dwindled on the voyage. After the first ten days, we were given rice and salt and occasionally we were issued with seaweed for cooking purposes. This was quite uneatable,” Lieutenant Nigam had said.

That TOI report went on to detail the privations of the Indian prisoners in the camps: “At Rabaul, their normal working day was from 10 to 12 hours, but on days when heavy bombing raids were put in by the Americans, they would work from 12 to 14 hours. Towards the end, their diet consisted of sweet potatoes and tapioca. It was only by stealing livestock and small quantities of rice that the men were able to exist. Men caught or even suspected of stealing food were shot.” The truth about the claim can be found in the proceedings of the Gozawa case (No. 235/813) of the Singapore war crimes trials conducted by the British. This was, in fact, the first case that was tried from January 21 to February 1, 1946 and had 10 accused, four of them officers of the Imperial Japanese Army. They were accused of ill-treatment of Indian PoWs on way to and at Bebelthuap Palau, causing death to many by imposing severe hardships and beatings, and also executing Sepoy Mohammed Shafi of the Indian Army by beheading for allegedly trying to escape; eight others were beaten to death for allegedly stealing sugar from the stores.

At Wewak in New Guinea too, Indian PoWs were treated worse than beasts of burden. They were made to work 12-14 hours and were left exposed to Allied air raids. The senior-most Japanese officer here was one Colonel Takano, who even flogged men sick with beri beri for “working slowly”. The Indian officers of these so-called working parties demanded better conditions and fair treatment as PoWs under international law (Geneva Convention). According to Australian historian Professor Peter Stanley, the Indian officers gave a written petition in English to Takano in July, 1943. The Japanese colonel was so angry to see it that he paraded all of them before him and told them that they had no rights as they had surrendered unconditionally. He also called them “traitors of Asia and India”. Harsher conditions were imposed on the men.

Then in one Allied strafing raid, five Indian PoWs were killed and 13 others injured. Takano didn’t let their wounds be treated. Instead, he threw sand at the men crying in pain and told them to shut up as it was their “Churchill and Roosevelt who did this” to them. All the men died later of infection. The PoWs gave another petition, this time drafted by Captain Nirpal Chand of 6th battalion, 14 Punjab Regiment. When the Japanese refused again, this KCIO (King’s Commissioned Indian Officer — such officers could also command European troops) organized a hunger strike. Despite Japanese threats, the men refused to eat until their demands were met. The Japanese eventually relented, but not for long. Captain Chand was executed on April 22, 1944, for “inciting his men to rebel”. The Japanese officers later tried for Chand’s death by Australians told the court that the Indian officer was given the opportunity to change his mind, but he had refused, so he was executed in a “lawful and honourable” way. It took two strikes with the gunto to sever Chand’s head. Jemadar Chint Singh, a VCO who testified against the Japanese, told Australian daily The Age in an interview dated June 7, 1947, Captain Chand’s last words to his men:

“Don’t worry. If I am killed, some of you will see the good times which are ahead and tell your tales. The Japs cannot finish the whole lot. If I die for your rightful demands, I shall consider it a great honour and credit to me.” <br> A similar “gallant tale” was reported by The Times of India on September 10, 1945, from Manila, Philippines. Some of the 330 rescued Indians on board the medical ship Oxfordshire told about Captain Mateen Ahmed Ansari of 5th battalion, 7th Rajput Regiment. He was a KCIO and the nephew of the Nizam of Hyderabad. They called him “one of the greatest heroes of the prison camps at Hong Kong”. <br> Ansari was arrested on April 1, 1943, on suspicion of participating in a group attempt to escape. The Japanese soon found out about Ansari’s royal lineage and pressured him to convince Indian troops to switch their loyalty to the Japanese. Ansari refused to break his Indian Army oath. “The Japanese tortured him with beatings, the water cure, and by plunging an electric plug into his bare back. These tortures failed to break the Indian’s spirit. So the Japanese began a systematic reduction of his rations, beginning with six ounces of rice a day. Finally, they told him that he had his choice of being beheaded or shot. The Indian replied that ‘beheading is a barbarous method, but as you are barbarians at heart, you will have to decide’. The Japanese then beheaded him,” TOI reported. Captain Ansari was awarded the George Cross for the “most conspicuous gallantry”.

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An emaciated Indian PoW from Hong Kong onboard the medical ship Oxfordshire (Getty Images)

The TOI report of May 16, 1944, also mentioned that the Indian soldiers “were victims of ‘indescribable indignities’ at the hands of their captors”. The chapter Indian POWs in the Pacific, 1941-45 by G J Douds, which is part of the 2007 book, Forgotten Captives in Japanese-Occupied Asia, edited by Kevin Blackburn and Karl Hack, elaborates on these indignities. “At Hansa Bay in New Guinea, Hindu prisoners were also severely beaten for their refusal to touch beef…the Japanese tried to prevent Muslims from fasting during Ramzan. Extra fatigues were imposed in a bid to enforce eating. The Muslims held out and the fast was eventually permitted; but in general no toleration was shown in religious matters,” reads a passage. <br> The Sikhs were particularly insulted for their long hair and beards. In February, 1944, eight rescued Sikh PoWs narrated their tales of suffering and about the indignities heaped on them. “We were locked in a room for a night and a day without water. Next day, when our mouths were very dry, they took us out and made a sport of plucking our beards. For food we were given dry bread, but before we could eat it our hands were tied behind our backs. We writhed in pain to get at the bread, which was placed in our laps. One Indian commissioned officer who asked for water was hit on the head and shot. Another was forced to drink large quantities, and when he had finished the Japanese jumped on his stomach until the water poured from his mouth, ears, nose, and eyes,” one of the men was quoted in the Canberra Times dated February 4, 1944. <br> The men further detailed how a Viceroy’s Commissioned Officer (VCO) was hung upside down alive and bayoneted by the Japanese who also pulled his heart out. <br> But the most spine-chilling of all Japanese atrocities was their practice of cannibalism. One of the first to level charges of cannibalism against the Japanese was Jemadar Abdul Latif of 4/9 Jat Regiment of the Indian Army, a VCO who was rescued by the Australians at Sepik Bay in 1945. He alleged that not just Indian PoWs but even locals in New Guinea were killed and eaten by the Japanese. “At the village of Suaid, a Japanese medical officer periodically visited the Indian compound and selected each time the healthiest men. These men were taken away ostensibly for carrying out duties, but they never reappeared,” the Melbourne correspondent of The Times, London, cabled this version of Jemadar Latif on November 5, 1946.

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Jemadar Abdul Latif of 4/9 Jat Regiment who was among the first to allege that the Japanese killed Indians and fed on them

Latif’s charges were buttressed by Captain R U Pirzai and Subedar Dr Gurcharan Singh. “Of 300 men who went to Wewak with me, only 50 got out. Nineteen were eaten. A Jap doctor —Lieutenant Tumisa, formed a party of three or four men and would send an Indian outside the camp for something. The Japs immediately would kill him and eat the flesh from his body. The liver, muscles from the buttocks, thighs, legs, and arms would be cut off and cooked,” Captain Pirzai told Australian daily The Courier-Mail in a report dated August 25, 1945.

Then there were more similar testimonies by PoWs interned in other camps, such as Havildar Changdi Ram and Lance Naik Hatam Ali, who also gave details of cannibalism practised in their camps. John Baptist Crasta of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps, also a PoW at Rabaul, wrote in his memoir (Eaten by the Japanese: The Memoir of an Unknown Indian Prisoner of War) about Japanese eating Indian soldiers. He was made part of the Allied investigation into Japanese war crimes later. <br> All these soldiers gave sworn testimonies to the war crimes investigation commissions set up by the Allies, based on which several Japanese officers and men were tried. The senior-most Japanese officer found guilty of cannibalism and hanged was Lieutenant General Yoshio Tachibana.

The Japanese, though, were always dismissive of these charges. Then in 1992, a Japanese historian named Toshiyuki Tanaka found incontrovertible evidence of Japanese atrocities, including cannibalism, on Indians and other Allied prisoners. His initial findings were printed by The Japan Times. In 1997, Tanaka came out with his book, Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes In World War II. There, he refuted the Allies’ conclusion that the Japanese resorted to cannibalism when their supplies dwindled. Tanaka said this was done under the supervision of senior officers and was perceived as a power projection tool.

UK-based military historian Amarpal Sidhu recalls his grandparents, who lived in Singapore during WWII, telling him about the fear psychosis among the Indian community in Singapore regarding Japanese cannibalism. “The issue of cannibalism and other atrocities committed against Indian POWs by the Japanese although widely known and talked about still remains one of the least researched and documented aspects of the last great war. As the last veterans of the World War die out, many first-hand accounts of these events are vanishing fast without being recorded,” Sidhu told TOI. <br> The Japanese also tried to impose their military drill and words of command on the Indian PoWs. It’s recorded that Captain Pirzai and other officers refused. The furious Japanese subjected the whole unit to savage treatment, but still, the men didn’t yield, saying they were Indian Army officers and men and would only follow the drill of their army. <br> Another similar incident occurred At Komoriyama in New Britain in 1945. There, men of the 5/11 Sikh Regiment were given ‘good conduct’ badges to wear. The Indian officers protested, saying that they were men of the Indian Army and they would wear only badges and uniform worn in that army. The men were threatened, but they didn’t budge. Then a machinegun was brought forward and the Japanese threatened to shoot down all. The Sikhs still didn’t budge. This went on for five days at the end of which the Japanese lost patience and flogged most of the men till they passed out. <br> Only 5,500 Indians came out of Japanese captivity alive. And despite all the hardships, the men refused to break their Indian Army oath and join the Japanese-sponsored Indian Independence League or INA. What emerges from all these recorded incidents is a picture of amazing fortitude shown by Indian PoWs. &#8203;A kind of professionalism and apolitical behaviour that perhaps still characterises the Indian Army of today.

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Soldiers who didn't die in the firing being bayoneted to death. Different historians have come up with different explanations for this.

Some say it was because the men, at least the officers, were highly Anglicised Sandhurst-trained men who also came from families that had a history of generations of loyal service to the British. But in the words of Claude Auchinleck, these men didn’t have any particular loyalty towards Britain.



The men were loyal to each other, to their regiments, to their officers. It was this loyalty that cemented such a diverse army like the Indian Army together. This loyalty, coupled with a strong sense of Indian identity, which had become stronger due to the ongoing National Movement back home, may have made the men endure all sorts of hardship. And it is this strong sense of Indian identity in the army that would shake up the Raj. <br> When India became independent in 1947, these same British-trained officers and men inherited a colonial army and transformed it into a national army that became the muse of patriots of all ages almost overnight.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...live-targets-in-wwii/articleshow/40017577.cms

Why did the Japanese army airdrop this poster over Assam in 1944?

Yet India today shoulder to shoulder with Japan

lol

k
 

magra

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My grandads brother died in the war and they signed up because were told by doing so Independence would be granted afterwards. He never came back my grandad hated bose and the INA said they were signing up to kill fellow Indians and fighting for the enemy. What would the Japanese have done if they won? Japanese occupation would have been worse. My baba hated the Japanese said they, not men who kill soldiers that lay down their weapons. I don't hate the Japanese because that the past did not know INA soilders banned from joining after war good decision they broke an oath and fought for the enemy . I dont have anything against them because they also wanted independence.
Its sad that Indian soldiers had to fight against Indian soldiers. But on one side Indian soldiers under British were fighting for their salaries and on the other side INA fought for Indian independence.
Ultimately, when the army and navy broke their so-called oath to the British in 1946 and revolted, did the British realize that they can no longer rule over India and decided to go out. So the 'oath' was actually keeping India a slave of the British and should have been broken long ago.
I dont think Japan had the capacity to rule over entire India while engaging in a world war. They would have wanted an aligned India with Bose as the leader.
 

yuba

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I could say INA soilders fought to get out of camps and torture and fight for the people who were responsible just like how you said all BIA soldiers just wanted their salaries and INA independence. both wanted independence and the Word was fight in our hour of need and independence will be granted. I say they both deserve praise because we were born in an independent India . You dont know their mind set so dont belittle one side because of your view point . I agree with IA not letting INA serve because they swapped sides . Those BIA soilders stopped the japenese getting into India i will say no more because it is close to my heart and im proud of my family and both BIA and INA but i can understand my baba and his viewpoint they were there and lived it me and you did not. I think the japanese once in control of india would have did what they did everywhere and that was kill rape pillage why would India be different. My babas viewpoint was they fight for the enemy some of them left camps where their countrymen where being treated worse then dogs and went and joined the killers he earned that viewpoint . On a side note salary in my house was not the main reason my great grand dad had enough land hunger not a problem . Promise of independance the need to get away from my great grandad strict control of his boys.
 
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magra

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I could say INA soilders fought to get out of camps and torture and fight for the people who were responsible just like how you said all BIA soldiers just wanted their salaries and INA independence. both wanted independence and the Word was fight in our hour of need and independence will be granted. I say they both deserve praise because we were born in an independent India . You dont know their mind set so dont belittle one side because of your view point . I agree with IA not letting INA serve because they swapped sides . Those BIA soilders stopped the japenese getting into India i will say no more because it is close to my heart and im proud of my family and both BIA and INA but i can understand my baba and his viewpoint they were there and lived it me and you did not
I salute all Indian soldiers whichever side they fought for. It is easy to discuss based on hindsight.
British promised India freedom if India helped them in WW1. Their promise was famously broken in Jallianwalla Bagh in 1919.
It was naive to think that British would have delivered on the promise the 2nd time and let go of their biggest colony. They were forced to do so only when the Indian soldiers revolted in 1946.
Had all Indians revolted together in 1857, we would have sent them packing then itself. But the concept of Indian unity was not fully developed then.
 
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