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deserts of North Africa, in Italy and Greece, and on the high seas in the Mediterranean, developed in them a sense of pride and self confidence. Did they really face death for the pittance they got as their monthly wages? The British cleverly exploited the latent national pride of the Indian soldiers to inspire them to give of their best in battle. It was the Maratha, the Rajput, the Pujabi, the Jath, each fought to uphold his national tradition. When we entered the more politically alive area of Central Burma, in the summer of 1945, we were greeted as liberators. This had been the experience of the Indian soldiers in Italy and Greece, and later in Indo- China, Malaya and Indonesia. In Iran, he had come in contact with the Red Army. This was a bewildering experience for the Indian peasant in uniform. How could he, who was not free himself, liberate others? Was it then true that he was really fighting a war of liberation? Would India be free at the end of the war? All these questions were more vital for the educated young technician, the factory worker, the poor peasant who had witnessed or even participated in some form or other in a class struggle or a political movement. Then the tide turned. In Greece, Burma, Indo-China, Malaya and Indonesia, the Indian soldier suddenly found himself ranged against those very people who had welcomed him as a liberator. In Saigon he was asked to fight alongside his erstwhile enemy, the Japanese soldier, against the civil population. He expressed his resentment openly. “Soldiers are not meant to fight civilians”, he said. “They have committed no crime, they want freedom. Was not this war fought for the freedom of all peoples?” The Gurkhas were brought in and the Indians kept 12 away from actions against the Vietnamese urban guerrillas. In the meantime there had been disturbances within the Indian armed forces in India. In the early years of the war, 114 members of the 21 st Indian Cavalry refused to go abroad to fight an imperialist war. Four were hanged and the rest imprisoned. In 1942, in the wake of the August movement, there were many actions by Indian soldiers which were ruthlessly suppressed. Between March 1942 and April 1945 there were 19 mutinies in the Royal Indian Navy alone. These related to various grievances including racial discrimination. In 1944, nearly 400 soldiers of the Indian Railway Maintenance Company mutinied against unjust disciplinary measures. Contacted by sources of the Indian National Army there was an attempted mutiny in a coastal battery on the eastern coast. All these were drowned in blood; the news carefully hidden from the public. The socialists were often involved. In Burma the Indian soldier also met his compatriots from the Indian National Army. He could not really accept them as his enemy. It was a confusing experience. Many of the INA sincerely believed that they had been fighting a war of liberation with the help of the Japanese. At the same time they too had began to realize that the Japanese had treated them no better that the British, using them as expendable cannon fodder. Where lay the truth of the fight for freedom and foreign domination? These multi-faceted and often contradictory experiences gave birth to a ferment that passed unnoticed outside the Indian armed forces. There was a search for a new identity. Were they merce- naries or were they nationalists? The INA had participated in a liberation struggle. Yet, they, who were slaves, had been welcomed as liberators in the very countries where the INA too had fought. Now the slaves who had become liberators wanted to participate in the liberation struggle of their own homeland. As the Indian soldiers made their war-weary way home they wondered; would the national and revolutionary leadership of the country come forward to give them the necessary guidance? This was the question uppermost in their minds. This vital question remained unanswered. They returned to an India seething with discontent. The Congress promptly came out in support of the spontaneous political mobilization of the masses in the struggle for the release of the INA leaders. The non-violent leadership of the national move- ment condoned and absorbed a violent and anti-imperialist struggle by a section of the armed forces. Some “innocents” in the services were foolish enough to believe that if they too struck against the common enemy, the national leadership would stand by them. The situation was indeed ripe for a national revolt of an unprecedented magnitude. The memories of the series of militant peasant struggles of 1942 were still afresh. The post- war strike struggles of the workers had just begun. The prospects had opened up for the coming together of the three streams of the revolution, as convinced by Lenin- the political general strike of the working class, the uprising of the mass of the peasantry and the coming over of a section of the armed forces to the people. The strike in the RAF followed by the RIAF, led to the beginnings of planned efforts in the navy. From December 1945 there was a stream of incidents in HMS Talwar, a shore establishment in Bombay. As repression began some naval ratings sought guidance from the socialist and communist leaders. Class Struggle