Asha Sen, a well-known freedom fighter and a member of the Rani Jhansi Regiment, the women’s unit of the Indian National Army (INA), also known as the Azad Hind Fauj formed under the leadership of Subhash Chandra Bose, says that at that time there was patriotism among the youth and even in the elderly. “Today this patriotism is not seen.”
In an interaction with IANS, she recalled that she was dressed in uniform by her mother who said that ‘now you are the daughter of Mother India, never think about us.’
Born in Kobe (Japan) on February 2, 1932, freedom fighter Asha Choudhary alias Asha Sen is the daughter of Anand Mohan Sahay, resident of Bhagalpur and Sati Sen Sahai of Bengal. The name of Asha Sen of Purani Sarai village located in Nathnagar in Bhagalpur, Bihar is famous among freedom fighters of the country.
After marriage in 1927, father Anand Mohan Sahai went to Japan. Asha was the eldest among their four children. She completed her education in 1943 and joined the Rani Jhansi Regiment in 1944 at the age of 17.
Asha Choudhary, who completed her education in Japan itself, says, “At that time, there was a feeling of patriotism in us, even in the youth and the elderly. There was only one tune that our motherland should become independent as soon as possible.”
Anand Mohan was a close associate of Netaji and the Secretary General of the INA. Her mother Sati Sahai was the niece of Congress leader and barrister Chittaranjan Das of West Bengal.
Asha says that after joining the regiment in 1944, she was given nine months of rigorous combat training in Bangkok. Training was given in rifle handling, anti-aircraft guns, methods of warfare, guerrilla warfare, etc. She was active in the battlefields of Singapore, Malaysia and Burma during the war with the British army for the country’s independence.
During this, she had to live in the dense forests of Burma for several weeks under the leadership of Colonel Lakshmi Sehgal, the hero of the regiment. “Leaving food and drink aside, there women soldiers used to fight even after getting injured by bombs,” she said.
Asha kept fighting with the soldiers of Jhansi camp. In the meantime the war ended. She could not reach India. Her father was imprisoned in Central Jail Singapore. He was later released and returned to Bhagalpur with his family in 1946. In the same year, he got Asha married to Patna resident Dr. LP Choudhary. Since then she came to be known as Asha Choudhary.
Asha says that Netaji Subhas Bose had a plan that the soldiers of Azad Hind Fauj would defeat the British army in the battle and join the soldiers in the country’s independence movement and liberate Mother India from the British. “Netaji used to say that the Azad Hind Fauj’s and his responsibility is only to free India.”
Recalling, she says that in 1944 Netaji was in Bangkok where many patriots from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar lived. “They used to do milk business there. A cattle rancher sent his son to the Azad Hind Fauj and his daughter to the Rani Jhansi regiment. He raised a huge amount of money by selling his cowshed, cattle etc. and one day after selling everything he dedicated the entire amount to Netaji Bose,” she said.