Saturday, October 30, 2010

‘FREIES INDIEN LEGION’ – Reminiscences of a Secret Indian Army in the Nazi Germany.

The ‘Indian National Army’ or ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ formed under the brilliant vision of the great Indian hero ‘Netaji’ Subhash Chandra Bose is emphatically remembered throughout India for its prominent role in providing the organized external armed resistance to free India from the evil clutches of the British Empire. This Indian army formed with the active help of Japan amazed everyone with achieving unattainable feats of glory and valor on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. However the very same India has been totally oblivious for decades about the existence of an another Indian Army formed by ‘Netaji’ in Nazi Germany for initiating an armed struggle for Indian independence from the western front of the war.

Freies Indien Legion inspected by the Nazi German War Staff.

This army known as the ‘Freies Indien Legion’ occupies a significant place in Second World War, as it became a symbol for India’s firm resolve to fight against its imperial captors for which they were even willing to fight under the camp of the Axis powers. It also acted as a precursor to the subsequent formation of the ‘Indian National Army’ on a much larger scale later on. So let us draw attention to how this enthralling story unfolds from the vault of history which not only tells about the birth of this army but also explores the deep connection which the Axis Powers under the leadership of Adolf Hitler had in this external struggle for Indian Independence.

The dawn of Second World War brought a big dilemma in front of the Indian leadership in British India. They had to choose whether they should lend support to the Reining Champions (the Allied Powers) such as – USA, Britain, France, Canada etc or to support their Formidable Challengers (the Axis Powers) such as – Germany, Italy and Japan in this ultimate bout which was prized for the world domination.

The British Government in the capacity of being the Imperial master took a unilateral decision to embroil its colony India into the war on its side without even consulting the Indians about it. The main political party ‘Indian National Congress’ immediately reacted by making loud protests for being sidelined on this issue however they later on agreed to support the decision subject to certain conditions out of which the question of resolving India’s Independence was the most important one.

Happier Times: Mr. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi along with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose at a Congress Rally.

Despite this stand of Congress the public was still outraged for being forcibly made to fight for their enslavers against those nations with whom India never had any sort of enmity in the past. ‘Netaji’ Subhash Chandra Bose who broke away from the Congress recently and whose popularity rivaled that of Mr. Gandhi by then understood this public sentiment and saw a solution emerging within this crisis which could help in India’s quest for freedom from the British Empire. He very well understood that the British would eventually break their promise and would never undertake a sincere effort to resolve India’s aspirations for freedom just like they did after the First World War. Thus supporting Britain and their allies in the war would eventually yield no benefit at all to the Indian cause.

He also saw that the might of British Empire was so great that mere peaceful and non-violent ways wouldn’t suffice in throwing off a determined colonial power from the country unless the very power centre of that very empire which was Great Britain itself is totally destabilized. Therefore the wisdom for doing so lied in the fact that if India diplomatically treats Britain’s enemies like Germany and Russia as its friends then may be the fall of British Empire along with the subsequent achievement of the freedom of India could be clinically engineered.

In view of this fact ‘Netaji’ immediately spoke against India’s participation in war for which he was soon arrested in Calcutta. However being an expert fugitive he escaped from detention and reached Afghanistan in order to establish contact with the Russian and German authorities over there. After that he proceeded to Russia where he saw that the Communist authorities were not very interested in helping for the Indian cause. This disappointment led him to go to Germany for soliciting the support of Axis Powers in resolving the question of Indian Independence. Germans who were looking for mustering diplomatic support for their war welcomed ‘Netaji’ on a highly positive note which was also seen in the cooperative attitude of their allies Italy & Japan.

The German foreign minister Ribbentrop assured ‘Netaji’ of Nazi Germany’s help in founding the entire organized structure of Indian resistance against the British right from the scratch. This included all possible help in terms of finance, men, materials, place of operations, knowledge, infrastructure etc. Thus the Indian resistance movement began to build swiftly with the active support of the Nazis and very soon all the members of Axis Powers officially recognized India as an Independent Nation.

As the Indian Resistance movement was growing from strength to strength in terms of arousing the national sentiment all across the globe via their propaganda machinery, a sound military strategy was being developed for building a strong armed force for liberating India. The idea was to prepare two liberation forces, one in the west and other in the east who can jointly storm British India and liberate it from the chains of slavery. The efforts to develop such an army in form of ‘Freies Indien Legion’ began primarily in Germany under the direct supervision of ‘Netaji’ himself.

However the proposition was not that simple, the first problem was procurement of trained soldiers for the struggle. This was resolved as the Indian POWs taken by the Wehrmacht (German Army) during the battles in Africa were deported back to Germany for their induction into the ‘Freies Indien Legion’. The Officers of SS (Germany’s Main Security Units) as well as their Propaganda Ministry worked in close efforts with their Indian counterparts in winning over the loyalty of these POWs to the cause of India’s liberation. The result was that majority of the POWs agreed to enlist in the liberation army.

It was agreed that the Indian soldiers and officers would be treated at par with their German counterparts. They will not only receive the best German weapons to handle but they would also be trained in the most modern ways of German armed combat that had become the hallmark of the Germany’s tremendous success in the beginning of Second World War.          

The main effort towards this worthy cause was taking place in the city of Konigsbruck, where the official uniforms were issued to the soldiers along with the most updated weapons. The uniform had a blend of both German militarism as well as Indian nationalism. The German ‘Fledgrau’ uniforms were issued with the badges of ‘Azad Hind’ Flag (comprising of Indian tricolors with a Tiger leaping in the centre). Finally on the 26th August 1942 the ‘Freies Indien Legion’ took its formal oath as an integral unit of the German army under the joint leadership of both ‘Netaji’ Subhash Chandra Bose and Adolf Hitler.

‘Netaji’ then envisaged organization of ‘Freies Indien Legion’ on the German Army pattern (Inspired by the concept of one paramount national identity proclaimed by National Socialism i.e. ‘Nazism’) of having a single unified army with the national identity being supreme. The British Army pattern of categorizing an army on the basis of cultural, regional and traditional aspects was done away with. This little army began to grow swiftly in numbers as new Indian expatriates joined it and soon it formed the size of a standard German Regiment which was soon motorized as well as armed with heavy weapons.

Meanwhile taking inspiration and learning from the military organization efforts of ‘Freies Indien Legion’, a similar sort of effort took place in the Japanese held regions of the South East Asian regions for forming the second army meant for fighting on the Eastern Front. ‘Netaji’ had always visualized that the ‘Freies Indien Legion’ supported by the armed units of German Wehrmacht would enter India through Persia (Iran) and the Russians being a party to the non-aggression pact with Germany would allow them to carry out simultaneous assaults from the Russian boundaries touching the British Empire of India.

However the fate had chosen things to happen differently as Germany suddenly declared war on Soviet Union on June1941 amidst scaling tensions and its fierce Operation Barbarossa began to sweep the Russian country like a ravaging tornado. At that time a daring military operation was conceived wherein on January 1942 one hundred Indian paratroopers of the ‘Legion’ were dropped in Eastern Iran. The Operation was code named “Bajadere” and its objective was to infiltrate into India via Baluchistan for orchestrating sabotage operations against the British in preparation of an anticipated national revolt which was to be subsequently instigated. However German slowdown in Russia during the war affected the success of the operation drastically.

The plans of ‘Netaji’ now began to turn on their head owing to this relentless German War on Soviet Union. Desperate to see his plans going awry due to the circumstantial changes ‘Netaji’ sought permission to meet Adolf Hitler for discussing the future course of action. These two colossal personalities soon met where both of them tried to test the mettle of each other. ‘Netaji’ aptly raised objections about Hitler’s endorsements of British rule over India in his book Mein Kampf .Hitler expressed the reason behind his view to be the non serious efforts of Indian Congress leadership in the use of nonviolent means and peaceful processes which as yet of now had proven feeble in their objective to drive a determined enslaver out of their country.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose  leader of the Government of India in exile meets the German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler.

Hitler proposed that in case of German victory over Soviet Union he would personally march along with ‘Netaji’ (indicating his full support) from the Caucasus mountain ranges into the frontiers of British India. However since ‘Netaji’ wanted to take immediate action he proposed to transfer him from Germany to Japan via U-Boat (Submarine) in order to let him assume the control of the Indian National Army which was prepared on a much larger scale in Singapore. Thus in view of the situation wherein the Japanese forces were beckoning the Indian frontiers and the German forces being still far away from there, ‘Netaji’s’ attention drastically shifted from the Western Front to the Eastern Front of war.

However before his departure ‘Netaji’ was concerned that the ‘Freies Indien Legion’ doesn’t becomes a sacrificial pawn regiment in the grand plans of German War Effort. He took promise from the Nazi German authorities to prevent any sort of misuse of the Legion and what facts in historical records tells us is that the promise indeed was kept honorably by Germany.

The account of Indian Soldiers of the Free Indian Legion shows that they were treated much better by the Nazi German officers as compared to the British Officers in their former employment. This comes as a major surprise considering the image of racial biasness which was the normal perception of the world towards the Nazi German Army.

The Famous German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel meeting the Indian soldiers of the Freies Indien Legion

The ‘Legion’ was always kept away from any sort of German mission involving armed combat. However when the Western front of Europe was anticipating an Allied invasion the ‘Legion’ was indeed asked to perform light duties in the formation of obstacles along the coastal lines in order to build the grand fortification known popularly as the “Great Atlantic Wall. Besides there were reports suggesting minor armed skirmishes involving the soldiers of Legion when the Allied invasion took place in France. When a gallant officer Lieutenant Ali Khan was martyred he was buried with full military honors by the German Waffen SS who had now undertaken the operational command of the Legion from the Wehrmacht.

The members of the ‘Legion’ then had to retreat as the Allied forces heavily outnumbering the German forces were advancing from everywhere. The German counterattacks and their subsequent victory in Arnhem (Operation Market Garden) gave the retreating columns including the members of legion ample time to seek sanctuary within the boundaries of Germany. However when Germany began to be surrounded by the joint forces of Americans, British ,Soviets etc the remaining soldiers of the ‘Legion’ decided to cross borders and move to the neutral nation Switzerland in order to escape persecution at the hand of the vengeful Allied forces.

However on their route for escaping via Alps passes they were captured by the Allied forces. It was alleged that many of the captured Indian soldiers were killed in cold blood by the French soldiers. The other remaining soldiers along with their senior personnel were then sent to British India to face the famous Red Fort trial that became a huge national rallying point for the masses to come in full support of these soldiers cause to liberate India.

By then the efforts of ‘Freies Indien Legion’ and ‘Indian National Army’ began to cast its spell on the British. These brave soldiers of both the national liberation armies openly expressed their gladness for what they had done and they expressed not even an ounce of remorse or guilt. Seeing this the Indian soldiers of the British colonial army began to get involved in acts of sporadic mutiny and the mood of the already desperate Indian people began to slowly drift from Gandhi’s Non-violence to ‘Netaji’s’ call for use of Force to throw out the British.

Great Britain which lay vehemently annihilated in the process of its epic struggle with Nazi Germany began to see that it was not any more feasible to sustain such a huge global empire. The severely battered armed forces and its devastated economy were in no point to amend the situation. The British feared that the amount of radicalization which ‘Netaji’s’ forces had invigorated into the Indian masses may eventually spiral out into a violent war which would not only result in slaughter of British citizens over there but also bring humiliation of a subsequent defeat. Thus they realized that the political wisdom lied in peacefully giving the freedom to India and ensuring a graceful departure from the country.

Hence the role of ‘Freies Indien Legion’ and ‘Indian National Army’ is of pivotal importance as their painstaking efforts brought in the much required antidote of Fear Psychosis into the war torn British Imperial mindset which ultimately led to India becoming an independent nation. Despite such an unparallel contribution towards the goal of Indian independence although the efforts of the latter army has been acknowledged but the sacrifice of ‘Freies Indien Legion’ still waits for its due place in the National History of modern India. 

© 2010 Neelabh Chaturvedi. All Rights Reserved.

[ NOTE : The objective of this article is to tell about the History of India's Struggle for Independence and NOT to further the views of any other political ideology concerned. Please don't unnecessarily equate the expression of Indian Nationalism with that of White Racism. Please learn to see it in the Spirit of the Study of History at least. ]

Friday, October 22, 2010

'CONCENTRATION CAMPS' - The Brain Child of the British Imperialism

Whenever the term ‘Concentration Camp’ comes across anyone the normal psychological tendency is to immediately associate it with the Nazis of Germany. Such has been the profound influence (a perfect case of classical conditioning) of popular media and the works of western historians that it has been deeply ingrained in the minds of common people that anything linked to the concentration camps has a direct or indirect Nazi bearing.

However as we all say that Truth is always more obscure than what people perceive it to be and out of the realms of time it emerges to haunt of its pure bearings upon us. Some what similar is the story of the Concentration Camps which has been orphaned by historians and caretakers of world media of its true progenitors who happen to be the Imperialists of the British Empire. Yes it was not the Nazis or the Soviets who led the genesis of such camps, in actuality it were the British who devised these camps for the first time during the Boer Wars and used them to exterminate several people who were not party to their nefarious designs in the region of Southern Africa. 

A Concentration Camp (an English term) in its literal sense is an area of confinement that is designed to detain a large number of people with an objective to either imprison (slave) by making them to do labor work or to exterminate them in the long run.

This British Brainchild in its inception did owed its horrific inspiration to similar kind of camps which their American Brethren had once used in the early years of 17th Century to detain large number of Native Americans and the Spanish colonists who had made them to quell the populace in Cuba during the famous Ten Years War (1868-1878).However never before they were used on such a massive scale with an intent to target such a huge population present in a widespread area.

In order to know about the inception of such Concentration Camps it is exceedingly important to know the backdrop and circumstances that lead to the subsequent mass deaths in them. This story begins with the British Occupation of Cape Colony (now a part of modern South Africa) from the hands of the Dutch East India Company in view of protecting the region from the rapid French expansion during the Napoleonic era.

This bilateral arrangement of self-interests borne out of fear was going to prove very costly for the Dutch as their settlers of Cape Colony popularly know as “Boers” (Dutch name for farmer class) were about to face the unpleasant surprises which their British friends had in store for them. The Boers immediately began facing harassment at the hands of the newly arrived British settlers and they were also constantly discriminated by the British authorities in command of the region. This kind of ill-treatment forced them to migrate away from Cape colony to new areas in the interior with a view for re-settlement in perpetual peace.

After their pain staking efforts they subsequently managed to establish two independent Boer states known as “Orange Free State” and “Transvaal Republic” in the 1850(s) which immediately got their much desired moments of peace in view of the British Empire recognizing their status of independence for the time being. However the imperial nature of nations back then didn’t encouraged them to follow a “Live and let Live” policy on a long term basis for the love of their neighbors.

Soon huge exploration of several Gold and Diamond mines took place in these regions which turned around the fortunes of both the Boer States. This news came as the much feared venomous antidote for re-awakening up the devilish state of play of which the British Empire had become a champion by then. They immediately took the stock of the situation and keenly noticed that the Boer States had a liberal migration policy. Seeing this chink in their foe’s armor they prompted Europeans worldwide to come to these regions in order to reap the glowing fortunes which they offered and very soon wave after wave of outsiders known as “Uitlanders” (mostly British) began to swarm these regions. Meanwhile the British began militarily encroaching upon the lands of Transvaal Republic leading to the outbreak of The First Boer War in which the British suffered a major setback and had to sue with an uneasy peace.

However their lust for these regions kept on rising more and more like a bushfire as new explorations of several more mines took place over there. Meanwhile the Boers began to realize that they had become outnumbered in their very own territories and the “Uitlanders” now in majority along with the active support of the British were posing an extremely dangerous political challenge for them. This jolted them from their slumber and they begin to initiate steps in order to curb the alarming rate at which the influence of “Uitlanders” was rising. This was met with vehement opposition from the British authorities who began to hatch a conspiracy to again wrest Transvaal Republic from the Boers.

Thus this sparked of the Second Boer War where after several twists and turns the British managed to gain strong military control in the two regions. Seeing the developments Boers resorted to their favorite strategic tool of Guerilla Warfare as a response to the might of British army led by the very conventional Lord Roberts who after initial success began to face severe setbacks owing to the organized prowess of the Guerillas fighters who were now ruling the roost in the countryside.

This paved way for the new leadership of the infamous Lord Kitchener who was known for devising his very own unconventional ways to vanquish his unconventional enemies. He was a highly experienced military commander who had faced such kind of warfare before and hence he came up with his vilely thought out “Scorched Earth” policy which aimed to deny the Boer’s of the necessary conditions that were conducive for their Guerilla operations.
A typical Guerilla style of warfare demands for it’s combatants to live of the land and also to win the moral support of people in the arduous terrain in which they operate. The British who were determined to deny these bare necessities to their foes began to strike down every thing that could possibly assist in the sustenance of the Boers in order to make life a living hell for them. Some of the measures adopted by Kitchener in this regard were destroying crops; burning homestead and farms; poisoning water catchments; killing livestock; selective targeting of active enemy supporters; and last but not the least interning the Boer & the African women ,children and workers into their so called Concentration camps.

Thus the Boer war witnessed the birth of such camps on official records with the British christening them as “Concentration Camps” for the first time. If the Boer’s Guerilla tactic was the problem the British Concentration Camps were the solution. These camps initially were designed for accommodating the influx of Refugees during the war however with the sudden shift in the strategic outlook of the army under the leadership of Kitchener they were now transformed into devil manes which were meant to radiate fear, horror and terror among the populace of the Boer state. The British idea was simple; to completely break the resistance of their enemies by all inconceivable means possible and then they began to ruthlessly execute this idea into a very grim reality.

This event became notoriously the first time in the history of modern world where a whole nation was subject to being vehemently crushed with the imperial boot with such amount of brutal efficiency and systematic effort. The mass targeting was so acute that nearly the entire regions were forcibly depopulated and made to dwell in the horrible living conditions of the camps.

These camps soon began to be flooded with innocent people and the authorities now exceeded the capacity of these camps accentuating the horrible conditions even more. They deliberately administered the overcrowded camps poorly and purposely denied even a proper breathing space to the internees. The British authorities knowing very well that the camps were facing poor hygiene, bad sanitation and health issues, did nothing to alleviate the crisis.

Soon worst hygiene, forced malnutrition, deliberate overcrowding, filthy shelter etc began to take their toll as thousands of internees began to fall prey to these demons of death one by one. In absence of availability of proper medication (which was of course not a priority in the British plan of action) the epidemics such as measles, typhoid, cholera and dysentery began unleashing an evil dance of death upon the innocent lives of detained women and children.

The native Africans were treated with the same brutality as their Boer countrymen despite the fact that the British authorities didn’t perceive them as potential threat. The notion was simple to inject the minds of people of Boer nations with such a vicious degree of horror that it rankles in their minds for generations to come.

The British efforts paved of as the Boers being mired by extreme psychological & physical pain eventually surrendered in 1902 and their status of independence was lost as their territories now officially were placed in the British Empire.

Despite the win there was a huge outcry within Britain as well as the world for the manner in which they crushed somebody’s freedom with such inconceivable measures. The English radical liberals raised this issue and many committees were formed in order to unearth the truth behind the whole incidence. The death of Boers mostly women & children under 16 years was placed around 28,000 while that of native Africans was placed around 20,000 (hotly disputed by black groups who place it well above 1,00,000). However the descendants of Boer families say that the statistics were heavily downplayed and the actual figure was very high than what was published by the British investigative reports.

World over it was widely held view that deliberately denying people proper living conditions leading to their subsequent death is as much tantamount to murder as much is shooting someone with a gun.

Thus the war left the bitter legacy of British Concentration Camps and their unparalleled stories of horror which paved the way of the use of such laboratories of death in times to come. The British Empire was actually quite unmoved by this brutal incidence of mass murder as they continued the use of such concentration camps in the Asian regions after assessing their triumph of this experiment during the Boer Wars.

This notorious legacy is very much evident today in the form of such Concentration Camps that have been evolved to covertly detain people by the NATO forces quite recently in their so called War of “Freedom” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

© 2010 Neelabh Chaturvedi. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

MIZORAM – A Saga of Secession, Violence and Re-Integration.

After gaining Independence, India had become a unified nation but to sustain this great achievement was going to be a massive political challenge for the times to come. The Congress party under whose leadership the people all over India were united in the struggle against the British Empire now had a more cumbersome task of making them live amongst each other as citizens of a common nation. Soon when the political & administrative necessity of dividing the Indian Union into several states came to the fore, the criteria of division was based on Languages under the pressure of linguistic political groups that were agitating all across India.

The then Indian Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru acceded to these agitators and the much needed crack down on these groups was not executed owing to one of his many eccentric idealisms. Thus this weak political will mired by an inept leadership led to the division of India on linguistic lines which further led to the opening up of a Pandora’s Box of identity politics and the birth of secessionist tendencies in several parts of the country for decades to come.

Such is the impact that whenever the word ‘Secessionist’ comes, the first thought that comes to an Indian mind is that of separatist movements in Kashmir or Assam or Manipur .However yet very few of them are aware that the modern day Indian state of Mizoram once upon a time not only started a secessionist movement but also went a leap ahead in declaring it’s full Independence from India. This event which still isn’t much known was nothing short of a Civil War that our country had to fight through.

Historically the region of Mizoram had such topographical distinctiveness in from of the Mizo hills and thick forests that it always supported distinct cultural traits which were different from that of people of other areas living around them. However after 1956 Mizoram along with many other present day north-eastern states were integrated as a part of the Greater Indian state of Assam. Since Language was the criteria for dividing the federation the ‘thought’ among several linguistically different sub-regions of Assam to become separate Indian states by virtue of that very same criteria began to gain ground.

Mizoram transformed this thought into action by swiftly forming a Mizo Cultural Society in 1959 for preserving their identity from the rest of the nation. A year later a severe famine hit Mizoram which led to a deep crisis in this desolate region. The effort to alleviate this problem by the State Government of Assam was seen as inadequate and there was a widespread protest against the government authorities everywhere. The subsequent crackdown by police to control the protests further aggravated their dissatisfaction.

Meanwhile the members of the Mizo Cultural Society decided to reorganize themselves into a separate entity called as the ‘Mizo National Famine Front’ for providing voluntary services for famine relief within the region. As soon as the dark clouds of Famine had scattered away from the horizons of Mizoram these members decided to transform a famine relief organization into a political organization known now as the ‘Mizo National Front (MNF)’ under the leadership of a Mizo ethnic extremist known as Laldenga (he was a former district council in Mizoram). Laldenga along with his clique were about to transgress into the realms of over ambition as they decided to use ‘Identity politics’ and ‘Public Dissatisfaction against the State Government’ as political instruments to realize their nefarious designs of complete secession from the Indian Federation.

Meanwhile the Assamese State Government of Congress party instead of checking this upcoming threat decided to appease them in order to counter their local political rivals in the same region known as the Mizo Union. Seeing this the MNF grew bolder in it’s audacity as it now openly called for the formation of a separate independent nation called as 'Greater Mizoram' across the whole North-Eastern region.

In addition of taking advantage of the Government’s shortcomings and a sense of cultural pride among Mizos , the MNF decided to accentuate the muddle of separatism even murkier as they now concocted an imaginary threat of the Hindu Cultural elements to the inhabitants of Mizoram who were in a Christian majority. The Communal angle was soon going to be complimented by their hidden agreements with the Pakistani authorities in the East-Pakistan (now Bangladesh) for giving armed and financial support to MNF in their struggle against India.

The State Government which was slowly waking up from their deep slumber saw matters going out of proportions and hence immediately ordered to mobilize an additional battalion of Assam Rifles to help in tackling the grave situation. Seeing this the MNF got its excuse of rebellion and on 1st March 1966 it officially declared a total political Independence from India and their armed militia geared up for armed resistance against the security forces of India.

Immediately the Government treasury was looted and several important administrative institutions were violently taken over by MNF’s cadres. The Mizo militia then attacked the heavily outnumbered local security forces that were brutally killed in cold blood everywhere. It was soon evident that most of Mizoram was in the control of MNF and it practically had been separated from India as the only flags fluttering over there were that of MNF.

Mrs. Indira Gandhi who now headed the Central Government stood shocked by such developments and decided to take the drastic action on 6th March 1966 by declaring this uprising as an unlawful act against the Indian Union. The Government immediately moved the Indian army into the region. Now the challenge before the army was to quell an armed rebellion of MNF which enjoyed mass public support along with the advantage of fighting on home terrain. Hence the army decided to operate in such a manner that the MNF becomes isolated from the Mizo civilian population.

With the political will behind them the army followed a ruthless policy of eliminating all the MNF militants and also to execute all those civilians who were actively aiding the violent separatist struggle. As the army had special directives for operations the standard procedure were replaced by emergency procedures while carrying on investigation and punishment of those who were caught red handed. Besides the villages that were openly supporting separation from India also had to face severe consequences from the administrative authorities who were beginning to resume their work in those regions. There were also controversial reports claiming that Indian Air Force bombarded the region infested with the militants in and around the Mizo cities such as Aizwal which caused a lot of damage to the civilian property, however the Government and the Air Force have dismissed such reports.

The compact geographical extent of Mizoram witnessing the battle compounded the collateral damage as many villages and innocent civilians became its prey. Although the Indian Army’s retaliation created waves of fear that rippled in the psyche of Mizo population but their anger began to vent out against the MNF. They felt that MNF’s immature and trigger happy initiation of a violent movement against the nation resulted in an equally opposite reciprocation by the Indian State. Their concocted propaganda against India and misguiding of the Mizos on ill conceived political planks were the subsequent cause of Indian army’s wrath on them.

Thus in the advent of loosing the popular support and simultaneously being annihilated by the might of Indian Army there began to grow divisions among the Mizo Leadership itself. They were beginning to understand that the idea of a separate Mizo nation was not feasible and its peaceful coexistence by being the part of the Indian Union was the only way for its peace and progress. The fundamentalist elements within the MNF quickly became a minority and the rest of them began peace talks with the Indian government. Soon the entire region of Mizoram was Re-integrated into the Indian Union which then subsequently was recognized by Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s government in 1972 as a Union Territory.

Thus the civil war was ended and the Indian Union was preserved. However the problem was far from being over as dormant voices of Mizo came up from time to time only to be quelled by Indian government’s diplomatic or limited military efforts. Today the state of Mizoram is quite peaceful as compared to its surrounding neighbor states however the violent struggle in 60’s was contagious enough to spark of similar ethnic separatist tendencies in the entire North-East region. However the problem could have been more catastrophic which was fortunately averted owing to the chivalry and resolve of the Indian Army backed by the decisive political will of Mrs. Indira Gandhi.

© 2010 Neelabh Chaturvedi .All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

VIETNAM – A David who vanquished the Two Goliaths. (Part I)

The blog of The Iron Will proudly presents a story of a nation whose resolve for gaining political freedom is very much remnant of the term Iron Will itself .Yes this is the story of the proud nation of Vietnam and it’s people who exemplified the greatest courage and patriotism in defeating the armies of two of the strongest nations of the time namely USA and France against whom many other nations would even shudder to think of fighting.

The armies of these two Great nations were famous for striking ‘Shock and Awe’ in the hearts and mind of their enemies but in Vietnam the tables were about to turn as it was the time when a people who mostly peasants by occupation were about to strike some ‘Shock and Awe’ in return to their formidable foes who had unjustly occupied their nation.

The land of Vietnam was part of the colonial empire of France called the Indo-China located in South-East Asia .During the Second World War the colony was occupied by the armies of Japan however after the defeat of Japan in 1945 the circumstances took a drastic turn .

Owing to the subsequent Political Vacuum being created the liberation army of Vietnam called as the ‘Viet Minh’ decided to take the control over the affairs of the colony. Meanwhile the Allied nations who were deciding the fate of the world after their triumph in Second World War agreed to the reoccupation of Indo-China by the French and not only that they decided to take a joint action in ensuring that it happens in effect.

 Thus the stage was set for a wide scale confrontation between the two. Initially the French with the help of their allies were able to oust the Viet Minh from their controlled areas. However the Viet Minh soon realized that directly engaging with an enemy possessing superior firepower and military technology would lead them to an inevitable defeat. Hence the command of Viet Minh which included two of the most revered figures in Vietnam’s History – Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap decided to introduce the ever effective art of Guerilla Warfare as the central force of their army’s subsequent operations. The answer to the question of why to do so lies in the strategic intent of any sort of Guerilla warfare which is to pit the strategically weak opponent at an advantage over a strategically superior opponent.

Now having settled the agenda for future military operations Ho Chi Minh took the responsibility of political mobilization for Vietnam’s cause while General Giap was entrusted the responsibility of countering the French army. General Giap immediately moved the Viet Minh to isolated areas which were out of the range of French forces and he started mobilizing the army. Hence this marked the beginning of the First Indo-China War between France and Vietnam.
The Viet Minh then organized several Hit and Run operations where after making swift attacks on French army in the country side they again came back to their inaccessible bases in the isolated areas in order to regroup themselves for future attacks and to prevent themselves from directly engaging the strong anti-insurgent French forces who were out there to hunt them. They constantly changed their bases and their Hit and Run strategy was constantly hassling the organized structure and psyche of the French forces. The French who were feeling the heat decided to conduct intense anti-insurgency operations in which they initially received huge successes.
However despite that the Viet Minh continued to grow stronger as it drew new cadres and was gaining more territorial ground day by day. By this time the Communist regimes of Soviet Union and China began to assist Viet Minh because of Ho Chi Minh’s Communist inclinations, meanwhile the French were preparing a parallel Vietnamese Leadership which was supposed to be a Democratic counter to the rising Communist Front in Indo-China.

The Confrontation between the French and Vietnam was moving towards a grand finale as the French forces who were losing ground had occupied key strategic zones that were posing direct threat to Viet Minh’s operational capability. Thus the stage of transformation in Guerilla Warfare had arrived where the Guerilla army transforms it’s strategy from Hit and Run to that of Direct Confrontation in an open pitched battle.

"The Battlefield Of Dien Bien Phu"
This transformation was seen at the focal point of the war which shifted to the strategic location controlled by the French called 'Dien Bien Phu' which was standing in the way of Viet Minh’s ambition of controlling the entire Indo-China. After eliminating the French patrols in vicinity General Giap mounted a full scale attack on this French Stronghold on 13th March 1954 which led to several days of intense combat on both the sides. The French forces did managed to hold out waves after waves of Viet Minh’s assault but due to improper reinforcement and irregular supplies the French capitulated on 7th May paving the way for the end of French rule in Indo-China. This was further on speeded up as there was a growing dissent among French citizens who wanted an immediate end of the war and the safe return of their soldiers back to their homeland.

Soon the talks at Geneva Convention of 1954 began where it was decided that Indo-China be officially broken down into four states. The States of Laos and Cambodia were separated from it while Vietnam was divided into the Communist North Vietnam headed by Ho Chi Minh and The Democratic South Vietnam headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. However the Geneva Accord promised for a referendum in form of a general election in both the states to be conducted in 1956 to decide a National Government for a United Vietnam.

The Government of South Vietnam with the active support of USA then tried to prevent this Election from taking place as they feared that Ho Chi Minh’s popularity along with Viet Minh’s success against the French would make the people in South Vietnam vote for accession to the control of the Communist North Vietnam.
The North Vietnamese government seeing such a scenario began a proxy war of raising up an insurgent group called the ‘Viet Cong’ within the borders of South Vietnam whose aim was to pursue Guerilla war against the forces of South Vietnam. Now the North Vietnamese army of Viet Minh from outside and South Vietnamese Guerilla army of Viet Cong began to work in tandem to achieve the total unification of Vietnam under the North Vietnamese leadership.
These political designs of North Vietnam were sending the alarm bells ringing for USA who by that time had assumed the role of ‘Savior’ of Democracy worldwide against the USSR which had become the ‘Promoter’ of Communism globally. Thus the Americans slowly began to come in full force for saving the Democratic South from being overrun by the Communist North.

The initial American support started from sending a handful of military advisors transformed gradually to the massive deployment of nearly half of the million soldiers and special forces in South Vietnam along with full naval and air support. Thus the escalating tensions were paving the way for another war on the soil of Vietnam which was going to be even more gruesome and devastating that would soak the land of Vietnam in rivers of blood for times to come.

So finally the ‘Poor David’ called as Vietnam after vanquishing the ‘Mighty Goliath’ called France was about to face another Goliath called USA who was even more stronger and considered Invincible by many. Thus the showdown between these two was about to spellbind the entire world as everyone eagerly watched as this epic struggle unfolded new tales of Courage, Heroism and Patriotism which became legendary for times to come and generations to see.

© 2010 Neelabh Chaturvedi .All Rights Reserved.

[ The Second Indo-China War will be shortly covered in the next post - “Vietnam - A Poor David who vanquished the Two Goliaths. (Part II) “]

Monday, May 17, 2010

DRESDEN – A Holocaust that went Unnoticed

In all the popular cultures and entertainment world the story of German and Japanese excesses during World War II are always told with great deal of flair showcasing how these Allied Nations were facing foes who were a blot on human race and were monsters in human flesh who were establishing a world order that was inherently Evil in it’s basic nature.

Little do the people at large know about the excesses of these so called Allied Nations during the course of history which can out beat the excesses of Germans and Japanese by a big margin .However as these very Allied nations are at the helm of world affairs in this Neo-Liberal world order ,most of these excesses have either been downplayed or have been erased in order to sustain their heroic image of saviors of humanity and freedom which gives them the moral right to dictate the other nations as to how they should run.

One such incidence that didn’t find it’s significance in history books was the Bombing of the German city of Dresden during World War II by allied nations which is considered in it’s factual foundations as one of the worst single event of massacre that well surpasses the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The German city of Dresden also known as Florence of North Europe was an established cultural centre for decades and was known for producing cigarettes and china. The city by February 1945 was transformed as a shelter for war torn refugees pouring from the onslaught of the Red Army of Soviet Union and it also became a centre where medical camps were organized for treatment of wounded soldiers.

The German command wary of Allied attention was already under severe pressure from two fronts of fighting and they decided to relocate their limited armed resources to the frontline cities and areas where the danger was perceived more. Hence Dresden was left with meager light defenses that were only meant for ground-to-ground assault , neither it had any effective military unit, anti-aircraft battery or any Luftwaffe ( air force ) support.

However the British Air Command by that time had come up with a concrete policy enunciated in the Casablanca Directive of 1943 as following – “progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system, and undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened”. Thus the agenda for British bombers was set based on the latter part of the directive by the likes of advisors such as Charles Portal and Arthur Harris backed by Winston Churchill the Prime minister of Great Britain who was determined to end this war quickly by yielding a devastating blow to the German psyche of resisting against all odds and to somehow beat the Soviet Union in the race for overrunning Germany.

They decided that a soft target like the city of Dresden would be perfectly suitable for this purpose because the destruction of working class groups in such a city was not only easy but it would yield a psychological blow to the German civilians to the extent that they would consider this war futile and would easily capitulate paving the way for German armed forces to capitulate soon enough. Bombing any other location would had posed the risk of counter-resistance along with lesser damage caused. Thus like having a self-conceived motive behind a cold blooded crime the British bombers along with their American friends flew over to this desolated city of Dresden whose population had swelled up to nearly 1.2 million due to a heavy influx of refugees and wounded soldiers.

The British Air Command had decided to go for ‘Area Bombing’ a concept where a large number of ‘Incendiary Bombs’ were dropped on an extensive area inhabited by civilians so that eventually a firestorm is caused when hundreds of smaller fires join in one vast conflagration. Huge masses of air are sucked in to feed the inferno, causing an artificial tornado. Those persons unlucky enough to be caught in the rush of wind are hurled down entire streets into the flames. Those who seek refuge underground often suffocate as oxygen is pulled from the air to feed the blaze, or they perish in a blast of white heat--heat intense enough to melt human flesh.

Thus the Bombing began on the night of 13th February 1945 by about 10.45 pm the entire city was up in this bizarre firestorm which began the ultimate spectacle of an orchestrated annihilation where chores of people experienced their own cremation from the great fire storm caused while they were running for their lives. A brief lull of three hours was deliberately given for the surviving civilians to come out in open for relief providing efforts for their fellow citizens and soon without any warning a second wave of even more heavy bombardment was carried on at 1.22 Am of 14th February 1945 to wipe out what they considered rats hiding in holes. The Bombing continued for 14 hours since it commenced leaving a city witnessing catastrophic destruction that would fall very nearly short to the prophesied Armageddon in Bible.

Human flesh including included bodies of women, children, elderly citizens, patients , animals etc, melted like ores melt in severely hot industrial furnaces. The underground areas became like death traps where citizens were suffocated to death. The estimated casualty rate has been always shrouded in mystery as any sort of estimation being done in presence of victorious Allied powers conscious of not loosing their humane image had lead to a serious downplay of the incidence by estimating it at around 35,000 dead leaving the wounded and burnt aside.

However neutral researches have revealed with evidences that an estimated range of 2,50,000 – 5,00,000 people died in this mass bombing. The range appears widened as there were corpses that were severely mutilated and melted making the count of dead a very difficult task. 

Soon enough Allied Propaganda was conceived that this mass level annihilation would be cited as a revenge for Rotterdam , Coventry and London bombing which in actuality were cities with military establishments during that time and the damage caused was highly miniscule as compared to Dresden Bombings. The railroads that were cited as the cause of bombings received less damage as the focus of bombing was in true sense that of annihilating the unarmed civilians.

Thus the extent of annihilation at Dresden surpassed Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing where 90,000 – 1,45,000 people died in another dastardly act of Holocaust perpetrated this time by the Americans. The event of Dresden was downplayed heavily by world media at that point of time and subsequently figures were manipulated to a large extent to make it look as an insignificant operation. The officers leading the attack were decorated with bravery awards.

Till date the popular cultures or history books of established authors never mention this Holocaust which was the worst single event of massacre because we all know that history is always written by the winners. Most of the educated class even don’t know whether such a thing took place but now gradually the truth of this brutality has began to surface out just as in Alfred Hitchcock’s movies the murdered corpse begins to surface out of the sea providing the primary evidence of a crime committed with it in the past.I sincerely believe that a day should come when countries like USA , Great Britain and their allies are made to apologize a thousand times for their excesses over the course of human history just as these very nations had forced Germany and Japan to apologize to the extent that they still are saying sorry for what their forefathers had done long before they were born.

 © 2010 Neelabh Chaturvedi .All Rights Reserved.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Inception Of 'The Iron Will'

Our Present bears the fruit of our Past and through our Present we can interpret our Past.In real terms Past is nothing but a rational construction of interpretations based on the facts and events that took place in the antiquities of time. The entire world is always in an attempt to interpret the Past in a manner which justifies the prevalent outcomes of the Present. The Blog Of 'The Iron Will' envisages a humble attempt to not only Interpret the past but also to Re-interpret what already has been defined as well as accepted by the world as our Established Past.

Since the inception of the blog is underway I would like to express explicitly the conceptualization behind the fundamental aspects of – what the Blog is all about (in detail) and why it is has been created.

Much of the interpretations of History and International Relations have become modern day taboos which remain unchallenged. The reason of such resistance is owed to the falsely perceived notion (as well as falsely manufactured) that such changes may pose extreme danger to the politico-socio-economic dimensions of the established World Order. Thus despite such ill-conceived paranoia an attempt to challenge these conventional interpretations is necessary for the Actual Truth to come out.

As Hegel suggested that world moves through conflict of Ideas hence we endeavor to provide the Anti-Thesis of 'Revisionism' to challenge the modern day Thesis of the 'Established Worldview' so that out of the Dialectic Conflict of these two the Synthesis formed is Truth in a more purer form.

The Fictional writers often have said that a Time-Machine is something by which a man can change his past but as we have already said above that past is nothing but a construction of Interpretations hence the right way to change the past lies in the Power of Mind. When one is able to do that and can convince the world with that, he can use that interpretation of the past to re-define his Present in a willful manner.

Thus the intent behind the blog is a earnest attempt to Unravel the Truth and for accomplishing such a great task of fighting for the Truth one requires 'The Iron Will' to conquer all the formidable foes that are standing in it’s way. So let’s pray to the almighty that the Truth remerges like the Phoenix bird from the obscurities of ignorance like a flaming entity which illuminates the darkness around it and may he also bestow upon us the blessing of ‘The Iron Will’ required to keep it up soaring high in the sky for the times to come.