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Nationalism is not the preserve of one party

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Many years ago, while researching the World War II Battle of Kohima, I had travelled to Moreh on the India-Myanmar border in Manipur. Friendly border guards allowed me to cross over to the Myanmar side from where a road ran to Mandalay. A few kilometres from the border checkpost is a small hillock where I was told Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army (INA) had rested before moving towards India.

The year was 1944; and the Japanese Army, after having swept across Southeast Asia, now exhausted and short of supplies, planned a bid on the well-stocked British garrison at Imphal. Netaji said his army would join in the assault even though his soldiers had barely one bullet each and little to eat. He rightly believed that Indian soldiers joining the fight against their British masters would shake the foundations of colonial rule in India and force London to concede independence.

Standing somewhere near that hill, on February 4 that year, Subhash Chandra Bose exhorted his troops: “There, there in the distance — beyond the rivers, beyond those hills, lies the Promised Land, the soil from which we sprang — the land to which we shall now return. Hark, India is calling, India’s metropolis is calling, three hundred and eighty million of our countrymen are calling. Blood is calling blood… The road to Delhi is the road to freedom — Chalo Dilli!”

I could not help the goose bumps recalling those lines on that lonely hillock in Myanmar. That was the event that had electrified a nation and sent shivers down the spine of the British Empire.

The Japanese and the INA were badly........

© Deccan Chronicle