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General Mohan Singh

General Mohan Singh ( January 5,1909 - December 26,1989 ) was an Indian British Military officer and member of the Indian Independence Movement best known for his role in organising and leading the first Indian National Army in South-East Asia during World War II. Following Indian independence, he served in public life as a member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha of the Indian Parliament. We have listened to many adventurous stories of Indian National Army ( Azad Hind Fauj ) from Sardar Bhagat Singh Duhra ( Village Duhre District Jalandhar ) and Sardar Udham Singh Waraich ( Village Saduwal District Kapurthala ) who joined the Indian National Army established by General Mohan Singh in South-East Asia. Those 40,000 soldiers played a credible role in the fight for freedom.

Mohan Singh was born in a Ghumman Jat Sikh family and was the only son of Tara Singh Ghumman and Hukam Kaur, of village Ugoke near Sialkot ( Pakistan ). His father died two months before his birth and his mother moved to her parents' home Badiana near Sialkot, where Mohan Singh was born and brought up. He passed secondary school and enlisted in the 14th Punjab Regiment of the British Indian Army in 1927. After the completion of his recruiter training at Hrozpur, he was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the Regiment, then serving in the North-West Frontier Province. He was selected as a potential officer in 1931 and he received his Commission February 1, 1935 and was posted for a year to a British Army Unit, 2nd Battalion Border Regiment and later posted to 1st Battalion, 14th Punjab Regiment on February 24, 1936 at Jhelum.

Japan entered the second World War with a surprise attack on the American air base at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. Mohan Singh contacted Giani Pritam Singh. Giani Pritam Singh and Major Fujihara, a Japanese Army officer, requested Mohan Singh to form an Indian Army comprising the captured Indian soldiers. Mohan Singh was hesitant because he thought the Japanese may use the Indian National Army for their own use, but later Bose Behari met Mohan Singh and discussed the Indian National Army with him. Then Mohan Singh agreed. Fujihara promised that he would be treated as an ally and a friend and not a prisoner of war.

After meeting with the Japanese commanding general, Mohan Singh was convinced of its feasibility of raising an armed Indian unit. He started contacting Indians in the British Indian Army in South-East Asia and also began recruiting from among those captured by the Japanese in Malaysia. All prisoners of war and strugglers were placed under his command. Fujihara handed over about 40,000 Indian soldiers ( who had surrendered ) to Mohan Singh. This was the initial step towards the formation of the first Indian National Army. In Singapore there were 45,000 Indian soldiers among 85,000 British troops. Mohan Singh asked for volunteers who would form the Indian National Army to fight for Indian independence from the British Empire. A large number of men came forward to join the Indian National Army. The new set up came into being on September 1, 1942 by which time the strength of the volunteers had reached 40,000. During a conference on June 15-23,1942 the Indian Independence League was created under the leadership of Rash Behari Bose and a resolution was passed in the conference, and Mohan Singh was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Liberation ie. the Indian National Army.

It appeared that the Japanese wanted to use the Indian National Army only as a part of the Japanese army, and were deliberately withholding the recognition as an independent army. Some supreme commanders of the Japanese army had disagreements with him. On December 29, 1942 Mohan Singh was removed from his command and taken into custody by the Japanese military police. Subash Chander Bose came from Germany in June 1943 to Japan and the Indian National Army was revived again. Upon the Japanese’s defeat, Mohan Singh was taken into custody by the British and repatriated to India to face trial, and he was cashiered from the army.

Mohan Singh entered politics and joined the Indian National Congress in February 1947. His dream of independence was realized with India’s independence on August 15, 1947. He had to leave his home and he settled in the Judiana village near Ludhiana. He created a private military named the Desh Sevak Sena and Des Istri Sena with its base at Majithia House, Amritsar. Sena helped thousands of Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims during partition.

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