Sunday, May 2, 2010

Indian deaths during WW2

It has been estimated by historians that approximately 40,000 Indians died fighting during WW2 in Malaya, and in building the Death Railway to Myanmar. 18,000 Indian Malayans and a few hundred Malays were part of the Indian National Army to overthrow the British alongside 30,000 Indian PoWs who joined the INA too. Their tale is also forgotton. Only the Umno tale is remembered and paraded by their politicians as ‘history’ to augment their positions and claims.

Another approximately 30,000 Indians died due to disease and starvation throughout Malaya. Another 30,000 Chinese died due to Japanese killings and starvation in Malaya and Singapore, and 2,000 Chinese died fighting just before the fall of Singapore.

There were no compensation and care for the dead and their families. Many of the dependents of those who died were left destitude and many led the life of beggars all though the 50s, 60s, 70s, which beggars we have all seen, and by the early 80s they all died. Today there are hardly Indian beggars on the streets.

It is quite correct to state that the Indians and Chinese led in the fight for independence, taking up arms first against the Japanese, then the British. It was at this time during the war that the MIC was established, before the MCA and Umno. It was later that the Malays ‘struggled’ against the British in ‘demanding terms’, which intransigence that really led to postponement of independence to 1957, when we could have obtained it in 1946. Malay struggle really began shortly before the Malayan Union, in 1946. Prior to that it was restricted to social upliftment activist societies, not really a ‘rebellion’, neither against the Japanese nor the British. Whereas the Chinese and Indians did the fighting and killing of the Japanese and British during WW2. There is no record of Malay uprisings against the Japanese and British during this period except for the Malays who served in the Malayan Communist Party and the Indian National Army which was formed in Malaya. Those Malays were the other real freedom fighters and heroes.

This entire episode of our history was not only forgotton but the postwar lamentable condition of the Indians were sneered at. The Indian community was neglected and handicapped right from the end of WW2. And then for a second time again after 1957 where they were discriminated against and marginalised when the saving provisions in the constitution were ignored, and later hastened by the NEP.

“There were 45,000 Indian troops from Malaya captured and assembled in Singapore when the Japanese captured it. Of these, about 5,000 refused to join the First INA. The INA at this time had 40,000 recruits. The Japanese were prepared to arm 16,000. When the “first INA” collapsed, about 4,000 withdrew. The Second INA, commanded by Subhash Chandra Bose, started with 12,000 troops. Further recruitment of ex-Indian army personnel added about 8,000-10,000. About 18,000 Indian civilians enlisted during this time. In 1945, at the end of the INA, it consisted of about 40,000 soldiers.[15]”

“About 180,000 Asian labourers and 60,000 Allied prisoners of war (POWs) worked on the railway. Of these, around 90,000 Asian labourers and 16,000 Allied POWs died as a direct result of the project. The dead POWs included 6,318 British personnel, 2,815 Australians, 2,490 Dutch, about 356 Americans and a smaller number of Canadians.[1]“