The Japanese Occupation of the Andaman Islands( India)
The Japanese occupied the Andaman islands, but it was the beginning of a nightmare.
Andaman Islands during World War II
The Andaman and Nicobar islands are a set of over 500 islands that are on the edge of the Bay of Bengal. The islands were administered by the English with their headquarters at Port Blair. This place is famous for the Cellular jail which housed political prisoners, whom the British felt were inconvenient. Persons who had committed heinous crimes were also interred in this notorious jail often referred to as ‘kala Pani’
However in 1942 an event of great importance took place. A Japanese task force with an aircraft carrier invaded the islands. The British had just about 300 Sikh militia in position and they surrendered without firing a shot. Some of them later joined the Indian national Army.
The islands were under the occupation of the Japanese, but it was a tortuous period and the local inhabitants were subjected to great cruelity.Initially some of the local Indians were given some responsible posts, but the streak of cruelty that has come to fore of the Japanese in other theatres of the war emerged here also and when the going became tough for the Japanese, they suspected a conspiracy and resorted to large scale massacres.
Another aspect of the Japanese occupation force was the procurement of local girls as comfort women for their soldiers. This facet of Japanese character is hard to explain. In fact, when I was in the Air Force I frequently flew to the Air Force base at Car Nicobar. In one of my chats with a village head man, I received a startling bit of information. He informed me that in a number of cases the Japanese soldiers massacred educated Car Nicobar residents and impregnated hundreds of women with a view to change the race of the island. This aspect has not been documented by any body.
Bose and the Islands
A particular galling experience is the conduct of Subhas Bose. He is reported to have visited the island once in1943 and hoisted the tricolor there. But he must have been a naïve man to be taken in by the Japanese who shielded him from the local populace. Bose made no attempt to meet the local residents who wished to brief him about the Japanese atrocities. He swallowed the Japanese line hook line and sinker and went away. This aspect of Bose visit is not adequately commented by historians.It shows the Indian leader in very poor light.
The occupation of the islands by the Japanese is thus a dark period in the history of this region.Perhaps it is good that they lost the war, for one cannot imagine what would have happened if they had won. Lastly Bose by aligning with the Japanese betrayed his convoluted logic. In any case he was defeated and even the so called Andaman Islands which were supposed to be ‘free’, slipped further into slavery and servitude.