Was Netaji really in Manipur?
A few days back I stumbled upon an article “Netaji’s last visit to India” written by Meghachandra Kongbam (former Director DIPR) which was published in the “Sun” Magazine of May, 1989. It is a very interesting write-up particularity for those who always look for amazing things to learn from the past. In his article he talks about a gentleman called Seva Singh Undi, who supposedly spent a night with Subhas Chandra Bose at Moreh, a village (now town) in the Indo-Burma border of Manipur, in April 1944. .
As per his report Shri Sheel Bhadra Yajee, the then Chairman of the Freedom Fighters Association, came to Manipur and met the INA freedom fighters of Manipur. He even visited Moreh to ascertain the facts. General Dhillon was also aware of this claim. INA associates could not exactly identify the place or the incident but they certainly believed that Netaji was around the Indo- Burma area in the early part of 1944.
Today we are celebrating the 125th birthday of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose , who was one of the champions of India’s freedom. The legend of INA will always be remembered in the world particularly in this country. A man from Cuttack became an ICS officer, resigned and joined Congress, became Congress President, then resigned and went ahead for an armed struggle against the British Raj. A great journey, no ordinary person could undergo. INA with the Japanese army played havoc in the east. The great British Empire was shaken. The spirit of INA and Netaji could infiltrate the great British-Indian army; Britishers left India as they had realized that the British officers could no longer command the Indian dominated British-India army. They could smell the trouble and they left.
The common people were behind Gandhiji. And the British-Indian army was gradually and steadily shifting loyalty due to the spirit of INA and Netaji. That spirit is now widely recognized by the people and the leadership. Netaji’s spirit must be revered and recognized by all the generations to come. He was a born fighter with an indomitable spirit. The invisible contribution of Netaji is now more visible rather deciphered by the new generation of writers and historians. The mutinies and Royal Navy revolt were just the beginning of a possible bigger explosion. The then British government could feel the tremor inside. The Labor Govt was wise enough to leave the subcontinent fragmented and bloodied.
The Moirang INA group is very powerful and popular; they might be thinking that the epi-centre of INA in Manipur should remain in Moirang. Nobody denies the importance of Moirang; the Tricolor flag was hoisted by Colonel Soukat Ali Mullick there. It is a part of indelible history. The entire country still salutes the INA liberated zones of Andamans and parts of NE-India including Moirang.
The fact that Netaji was around the Indo – Burma border in the early part of 1944 is never questioned. INA historians never deny it out. Perhaps Netaji was on a secret mission around the Indo-Burma border to see multiple entry points into India. The presence of INA and Japanese troops in Manipur and Nagaland were perhaps the result of such a secret strategy. The move could not be so successful because of the difficult terrain and the lackluster response of the local people.
Moirang Koireng, the then Chief Minister of Manipur who was closely associated with the INA while having informal talks with his young followers including my father hinted that Netaji was indeed in and around Manipur. He was not so sure of Netaji's presence in Manipur, but he was hundred percent sure of Netaji’s presence at the border. INA documents were silent about Netaji's movements in those days just for the sake of his safety and security. Most of his movements were sudden, unplanned and secret (for others). His presence in Mandalay, Burma in the middle of 1943 is documented and endorsed by the INA. They believe that Netaji was planning to enter India through Andamans and Northeast towards Bengal.
The 125th year of Netaji’s Birthday celebration could be completed with the construction of a marble Statue along with a Dharmasala for travellers at the Indo-Myanmar border as contemplated by the INA veterans. Even though it is difficult to ascertain that Netaji actually landed at Moreh and spent a night there, it is amply sure that he was around the border areas. The then CM of Manipur M. Koireng also believed that he was somewhere near.
Then what are we waiting for? We are celebrating Netaji’s Birthday, the whole year. A befitting tribute to Netaji & INA ought to be rendered here. Moreh or Moirang, Netaji’s spirit will always remain close to the hearts of the valorous people of Manipur. The show stopper should be Manipur. Perhaps Prahaladji is listening.