The national movement grew even more strong after the formation of the Indian National Army (INA), popularly known as the ‘Azad Hind Fauj’. A pioneering role in its formation was taken by the Indian Independence League, an association formed by Rash Behari Bose. General Mohan Singh was an important leader of this army. The army comprised largely of Indian prisoners of war who were serving under the British and had been captured by the Japanese during the war. Some Indians settled in South-east Asia also joined this army, raising its strength to about forty-five thousand soldiers.
In AD 1943, the leadership of Azad Hind Fauj passed into the hands of Subhas Chandra Bose, also called ‘Netaji’. He was a very popular leader especially among the youth. On 21 October 1943, he proclaimed the formation of the Provisional Government of Independent India in Singapore. He went to the Andamans and hoisted the Indian flag there. In AD 1944, the Azad Hind Fauj took part in the attack on the north-eastern parts of India to free the country from British rule. Netaji also took the help of Japan to organize an anti-British revolt. His slogans of ‘Delhi Chalo’ and ‘Jai Hind’ won many supporters to his cause. Women also joined the army in large numbers. A separate women regiment called the Rani Jhansi Regiment was created. It was led by Lakshmi Swaminathan.
The Azad Hind Fauj failed to liberate India from British rule. Subhas Chandra Bose was reportedly killed in an air crash. The brave soldiers of the Azad Hind Fauj, however, become national heroes and songs of their bravery were sung throughout the country.