Beginnings at Farrer Park

Fall of Singapore
British surrender, 1942.

On 17 February 1942, two days after the Fall of Singapore, some 45,000 Indian Prisoners-Of-War (POWs), were gathered at Farrer Park. There, the British handed them over to the Japanese.

To their surprise, the Japanese welcomed them and pledged their support for India’s Independence. Following this, Mohan Singh, a captain in the 1/14th Punjab Regiment in the British Army, called upon the Indians to form an army to free India. Almost 20,000 soldiers immediately came forward to join what became the INA.

Earlier on, the Japanese Military Administration had encouraged various Indian nationalist groups in East Asia to form an anti-British alliance. These Indian nationalist groups then established the Indian Independence League (IIL), with its headquarters in Singapore. At the same time, the IIL looked after the welfare of Indian communities in East Asia.

In early March 1942, the Japanese proposed that the INA become the military arm of the IIL, and that Rash Behari Bose, an Indian revolutionary who had earlier fled to Japan, lead the movement. This was formally announced in June 1942 in Bangkok.

By late 1942, however, the Indians increasingly felt that the Japanese were making use of them and they distrusted Rash Behari Bose. In December, Mohan Singh and other INA leaders ordered the INA to disband after severe disagreements with the Japanese. Mohan Singh was subsequently arrested by the Japanese and exiled to Pulau Ubin.


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