Indian National Army (INA) Martyrs' Memorial Complex, Moirang, Manipur

Developed and built gradually over the past 50 years, the Indian National Army Martyrs’ Memorial Complex stands as a testament to those men who fought in World War II to gain independence for India from British Colonial rule.

Founded in 1942 by Captain Mohan Singh, the Indian National Army (INA) was a collective of Indian POWs of the British-Indian Army captured by the Japanese in both Malaysia and Singapore. After disbanding later the same year due to political differences among the leadership, a second formation came about in 1943 under the guidance of Subhas Chandra Bose. Following Bose’s direction, the INA sourced thousands of civilian volunteers and ex-prisoners from the Indian expatriate population in Malaysia, Singapore and Burma, all eager for Indian independence. Joining forces with the Imperial Japanese Army (and even in the early stages, the German Nazi Party), the INA fought against the Allied forces at a number of locations in the latter of half of World War II. The most important of these was in Manipur, where the INA, with support from the Japanese, claimed an area of 1,500 square miles and for the first time on April 14th, 1944, unfurled the Tri-colour Flag of Free India at Moirang Kangla. For three months the INA carried out military administration duties at Moirang until the Allied forces reclaimed the territory and pushed the INA down the Malay Peninsula until they finally surrendered at Singapore. Bose later died in a plane crash in August 1945, trying to escape to the Soviet Union.

When India finally did gain independence in 1947, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru proposed that a memorial be constructed as a sign of remembrance to those in the INA who perished during World War II. Moirang was selected due to its symbolic role in the independence movement and in 1955 the foundation stone of the memorial complex was laid.

As of today, the INA Memorial complex is managed and maintained by the State Government of Manipur and according to the official website, consists of five main units. The Netaji library, built in memory of Subhas Chandra Bose, was opened in 1968 and has a vast collection of books, documents, manuscripts and periodicals focused on the freedom movement and the history of India. Combined with the library is the INA Museum. Featuring a large collection of objects and paintings from World War II and the liberation movement, the museum aims to educate the people of India, and visitors from abroad, about the history of the INA and in turn, interpret the role of the INA during the campaigns against the British Colonial government, both on and off the battlefield.

Also situated within the complex are three large monuments. The first monument is a replica of the INA War Memorial, which was originally built in Singapore in 1945. Completed in less than three weeks, the original structure was built under the instructions of Bose as a symbol of the ‘brave and valiant fighters’ of the INA who died at the battle of Imphal and Kohima. When the British forces retook Singapore later that year, the memorial was demolished. Almost 20 years later in 1968, it was decided that the memorial should be rebuilt at Moirang, with the following year marking the unveiling of the granite structure by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The second monument is a life sized bronze statue of Subhas Chandra Bose, donated by the West Bengal Government in 1971. This statue was blown up in 1993 by an unknown group but was quickly rebuilt by the Government of Manipur and unveiled the same year on the Golden Jubilee of the Provisional Government of Free India. The third monument is a stone structure built in the traditional Manipuri style. Initially the site of the coronations of the Kings of Moirang, the stone monument was built in 1968 to mark the place of the first unfurling of the Tri-colour Flag of Free India in 1944.

Continually developing and aiming to further promote the significant role of the INA in India’s history, the memorial complex frequently conducts events and programs for interested scholars and the families of those who fought in Manipur. Special ceremonies are also conducted to mark the birthday of Subhas Chandra Bose (23rd January), Flag Hoisting Day (14th April) and Azad Hind Hukumat Day (21st October).

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