Attavara Yellappa, a Tuluva and a proud son of Tulunadu, was one of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s close friends during the formation of INA.
After completing his Barrister degree, Yellappa, a native of Attavara in Mangalore, was living in Singapore when he was inspired by Netaji’s call for freedom struggle and joined the INA.
Financially savvy, Yellapa soon rose in the ranks and worked as a minister in the “Azad Hind Government” in occupied Singapore. When financial difficulties arose during the formation of the government, he helped Netaji to set up “Azad Hind Bank” and gained the moniker “India’s Kubera” among his fellow freedom fighters.
Capt. Lakshmi Sehgal, head of the women’s unit of Netaji’s INA Army, wrote that “He (Yellappa) was the President of Indian Independence League unit of Singapore—-but was no figurehead. He single-handedly collected large sums of money from Nattukotai Chettiars in Malaya and Burma and also Sindhi and Sikh businessmen. He was able to start the Azad Hind Bank in Rangoon.”
His nephew Dr. Prabhakara Das narrated an interesting story to Udayavani. He recollects his mother saying that Yellappa, along with Netaji had come to Mangalore in the guise of an ascetic.
But, Yellappa’s end is as mysterious as Netaji’s death. Yellappa was last heard of in the year 1943. He was just 33 and was fighting the British in Burmese jungles. Capt. Lakshmi Sehgal, head of the women’s unit of INA Army, wrote in a letter to Prabhakara Das that the British army attacked a forest in Myanmar. All, except Yellappa and Muthu, were captured by the British.
“We were attacked by British and Gurkha forces and were taken as prisoners. They took all of us but left Yellappa Saheb and a Christian boy Muthu in a village. After a couple of days, I heard that another group of Gurkha soldiers on seeing the hut with smoke coming out of the kitchen, presumed that there were Japanese inside and opened fire, which burnt Yellappa Saheb and Muthu alive. We could however never get any written records of the incident,” Capt Sehgal wrote.