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Netaji’s visit to Andamans as Head of Provisional Govt. of Azad Hind

South Andaman, Andaman & Nicobar Islands

March 23, 2022

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, the Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army visited the A&N Islands as Head of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind during the Second World War when the Islands were under the occupation of the Japanese Imperial Force. Netaji hoisted the national tricolor for the first time on Indian soil on 30 December 1943.

Netaji, accompanied by members of the Azad Hind government and his staff, paid an official visit to Andaman and Nicobar Islands from 29 to 31 December 1943.

He stayed at the former British Chief Commissioner's official residence on Ross Island. His visit followed the Japanese Prime Minister's historic declaration at the Assembly of Greater East Asiatic Nations in Tokyo on 6 November 1943 that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands would be transferred to the Provisional Government of Azad Hind.

On 30 December Netaji addressed a mass rally of Indians at the Gymkhana ground in front of the Andaman Club and formally hoisted the national tricolor to the accompaniment of the national anthem. He visited the Cellular Jail, where Indian revolutionaries were detained by the British, the same afternoon. He spent two hours there going round the Indian Bastille.

Describing his visit to the islands later, Netaji said, ''During this visit, I and the members of my party had the unique experience of our lives when we stood on the soil of free India for the first time.

It was an unforgettable event for us to see our National Tricolor Flag fluttering in the air over the former British Chief Commissioner's residence on Ross Island, and we wondered all the time how the wheels of history were now moving in India's favour.

While we were in the Andaman Island we visited the notorious Cellular Jail in Port Blair and paid homage to those patriotic countrymen of ours who suffered indescribable persecution and torture in the past and some of them even laid down their lives as victims of British tyranny and brutality.

For Indians, the return of the Andaman represents the first territory to be liberated from the British yoke. By the acquisition of this territory, the provisional government has now become a national entity in fact as well as in name. The liberation of the Andamans has symbolic significance because the Andaman has always been used by the British as a prison for political prisoners. Most of the political prisoners who were sentenced to panel servitude for conspiracies to overthrow the British Government-and there have been hundreds of them – were locked up on this island. Like the Bastille in Paris, which was liberated first in the French Revolution, setting free political prisoners, the Andaman where our patriots suffered is the first to be liberated in India's fight for independence……”

Source: Yashaswini B, IAS 2020 (AGMUT)