History revisited

Rare footage of the Japanese occupation of the Andamans during World War II

The Andamans were the only part of India actually controlled by the Indian National Army. But the brutality of the Japanese occupiers earned Subash Chandra Bose the wrath of residents.

Today, Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh will be the chief patron at a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battles of Imphal and Kohima, when Allied troops – mainly Indian – drove back the Japanese army from India's borders. The battle was among the key events of World War II, helping change the fortunes of the Allies.

But though the Japanese were beaten back from the northeastern border, few people remember that the East Asian nation actually managed to capture one part of India and to hold on to it until 1945. As a result, seven decades after the conflict ended, WWII bunkers are still a common sight along the beaches of Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, the site of a murky episode in Indian history.



As it turns out, the Andaman Islands were the only part of India that was actually controlled by the Indian National Army, the liberation force headed by Subash Chandra Bose. But its administration over the islands was only nominal. In reality, power was exercised by the Japanese forces – so brutally that they caused the residents of the islands to develop a deep hatred both for the Japanese and Bose's army.

The Japanese sailed into Port Blair in March 1942, shortly after the fall of Rangoon earlier that month. They faced little resistance from the small local garrison and enrolled the Indian soldiers into the INA. But things soon turned sour. As Jayant Dasgupta recounts in his book Japanese in Andaman & Nicobar Islands: Red Sun over Black Water, several residents were executed on charges of spying, local women were forced into sexual slavery and hundreds were rounded up to provide forced labour for an airstrip and other projects.

Bose visited Port Blair to raise the tricolour and technically take charge of the islands in December 1943, renaming the Andamans “Shahid Dweep” (Martyr Island) and the Nicobars “Swaraj Dweep” (Self-Rule Island). Locals are said to have told him about the atrocities that had been meted out on them, only to be ignored, earning him their wrath.


Anger with the Japanese grew more intense as the months passed and food became scarce. Starvation became widespread and hundreds of people are thought to have been deported to an uninhabited island to grow food. Many perished. It is estimated that 2,000 Indians died as a result of Japan's occupation of the Andamans.

The Allies finally recaptured the islands in October 1945.


The Japanese delegation at the ceremony to mark the surrender of Japanese forces in the Andaman Islands.



Japanese soldiers unload stores for the Allied occupation forces at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands.



Men of the Rajput Rifles embark for the Andaman Islands aboard the troopship Dilwara.




Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

Play

Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.