3rd September 1939, Lord Viceroy Lithlingow pledged Indians as cattle, without any consultation, in the war against Germany. While, as a colony, they could not contest – Indians used this as a vantage point to bargain for their independence.
Young Sikh men volunteered and expanded the Indian army from 189,000 to 2.5 million, despite only accounting for 1% of the British Indian population at the time. They saw this as ‘dharamyudha’ (War of Righteousness); to defeat fascism at home, they had to defeat fascism in Europe.
“A remarkable people, the Sikhs, with their Ten Prophets, five distinguishing marks, and their baptismal rite of water stirred with steel; a people who have made history, and will make it again.”
Martial India, F. Yeats-Brown, 1945.
India’s strategic location, financial and human resources were priceless. World War II was not the first time Indian soldiers had sacrified their life to honour King and Country. But, this time was different. Resentment coursed through the veins of many Indian communities.
This did not go unnoticed by the Japanese.
Thousands of leaflets fluttered in the winds and fell down as harsh reminder of British brutality in India.