On 26th April, 1942 Gandhiji wrote an essay on ‘Quit India’ in the ‘Harijan Patrika’. On 14th July, 1942 A.D. the ‘Congress Working Committee’ in the ‘Wardha Session’ accepted Gandhiji’s proposals. Finally they adopted it formally on the 8th August 1942 A.D. and planned to start up the movement from the morning of 9th August. In front of the A.I.C.C.C. Gandhiji referred to this movement “This is an open rebellion. In this struggle secrecy is a sin”. He gave the cry of “Do or Die”, for the Nation. To the agitators, the holy words were “Do or Die”. So they daringly went for strikes, burning down offices, courts, destroying railway lines, telegraph and telephones, seizing police stations, post offices, registry offices, rail stations etc. this movement developed in this way of non-violence.
The main centers of the Quit India movement were Satara of Maharashtra, Tamluk, Contai of Midnapore, Balurghat of West Dinajpur, Balia, Azamgarh of U.P., Naogaon of Assam. Among the notable leaders were Srinath Lal, Nana Patil of Satara, Chaitu Pandey of Balia, Matangini Hazra, Sushil Dhara of Tamluk, Punjab’s Fukonani, Assam’s Kanaklata Badua. At Midnapore, Bengal, Quit India Movement took form of a mass uprising. The peasant movement organised by Birendranath Shasmal (‘Desh Pran”) enable the rapid spread of the Quit India Movement. It had deep impacts at Dinajpur, Balurghat, Midnapore, Contai, Tamluk, Patashpur, Bhagwanpur, Sutahata, Nandigram, Mahishadal etc. and Birbhum, 24 Parganas etc. on 29th September 1942, under the leadership of 72 year old Matangini Hazra and Ramchandra Bera a mass of 20,000 seized the court and police station. When police opened fire on this procession many along with Matangini Hazra died. After Matangini the leadership was taken by Ajay Mukherjee, Sushil Dhara, and Satish Samanta and they captured Lalbari. On 17th December 1942 A.D. Ajoy Mukherjee formed the “Tamluk Provisional National Government”. They formed an armed force called ‘Bidyut Bahaini’ and women organization ‘Bhagini Sena’.
The Quit India Movement proved the power of the masses.
According to Sumit Sarkar, in spite of all oppressions the peasants came forth with great force. Nehru, said, “It was essentially spontaneous mass upheaval”.
This movement finalized the Independence of India and transfer of power.
According to Dr. Arun Bhuiya, this movement laid the foundation for the freedom by raising the mass consciousness and unity.
Features of the Quit India Movement (1942): The unique nature of the movement of 1942 were as:
1. The Gandhian movement in 1942 was totally changed its character of non-violence Satyagraha, because Gandhiji’s mantra during the Quit India movement was “Do or Die”. We shall either free India or die in the attempt; we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery”.
2. The movement of 1942 followed both violence and non-violence methods.
3. The most important feature of Quit India Movement was the absence of religious communal riot during the movement of 1942.
4. During the movement famous congress leaders were imprisoned. So the Congress Socialist Party’s leaders like Ram Manohar Lohia, Achyuta Patwardhan, S.M. Joshi, Ramananda Mishra, Jayprakash Narayan and officer bearer of the ‘Congress Working Committee’ including Sucheta Kripalani and Sadiq Ali decided to carry forward the Quit India movement from underground.
5. The student left their schools and colleges to join the movement. The student of Banaras Hindu University, Allahabad University, Patna University, Annamalai University etc. Besides these workers, peasants etc. transformed it into “a spontaneous mass upheaval”.
6. Whatever may have been the character of the movement, it proved to be a nemesis for British. They resorted to 538 rounds of fire and the army used machine guns on occasions, for which 7000 people were killed. Dr. Sumit Sarkar said 91,836 people were arrested by the end of 1943.
7. The important feature of the movement was that the Communist Party of India (CPI) did not join the movement of 1942. Russia was attacked by Nazi Germany, so the communist supported British war against Germany and the ‘Imperialist War’ changed into ‘Peoples War’ to them. The negative role of the CPI is described in the novel “Jagari” of Satinath Bhaduri. Other political parties however adopted different attitude towards the movement.
Category: Modern History of IndiaTagged With: Mahatma Gandhi
Amidst World War-II, on 8th August 1940, the British Government announced ‘Dominion Status’ to India through its famous ‘August Offer’ which was rejected by the Indians.
The Cripps Mission of 1942 was another step ahead which suggested full ‘Dominion Status’ and also right to part from the British Commonwealth Nations. Thus proposal was rejected by the people of India.
Gandhi, who was not prepared to oppose the Government by a mass upsurge, so far, now changed his mind. He was convinced of the necessity of starting a mass movement again. He raised the slogan of ‘Do or Die’.
Quit India Resolution was passed on August 8, 1942, by the Indian National Congress. The Congress handed over the leadership of the movement entirely in the hands of Gandhi and appealed to the people of India to hold together under the leadership and carried out his instructions as disciplined soldiers of the Indian freedom.
Gandhi regarded the movement as the last struggle for Indian independence. In his speech before the All India Committee, he declared “it was going to be the last struggle of his life to win the freedom of India.”
The government became aware of the movement and prepared itself in advance. All the members of the Congress including Gandhi were arrested before they work. Other leaders were also arrested and people were left leaderless.
REAONS FOR THE QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT
Following were the main causes that led to the Quit India Movement.
- FAILURE OF THE CRIPPS MISSION:-the failure of the Cripps Mission to solve the constitutional deadlock exposed Britain’s unchanged attitude on constitutional advance and made it clear that any more silence would mean acceptance of the British right to decide the fate of Indians without consulting them.
- RISING PRICES:-hike in the prices and shortage of rice, salt etc. angered the people of Bengal and Orissa. British failed to calm down the angry people. Hence this also led to the rise of Quit India Movement.
- REVERSES IN THE SOUTH-EAST ASIA:-the news of defeat suffered by the British in South East Asia and an imminent Collapse made the Indians to believe that the British Government has become so weak that they can drive them away from their country. Moreover the belief in the stability of the government was so low that people started withdrawing their deposits from banks and post offices.
- RACIAL DISCRIMINATION:-after suffering reverses from South East Asia, left the subjects to their fate. Two roads were provided—Black Road for Indian refugees and White Road exclusively for European refugees. Thus the racist tendencies of the British were exposed. Thus Indians started Quit India Movement against the British rulers.
- DANGER OF JAPANESE INVASION:-there were the growing threat of Japanese invasion of India. Gandhi wanted to save India from that attack. He feared that if the British lost, Japanese might not take their place.
PHASES OF QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT
Quit India Movement has been popularly divided into three phases:
The first phase started from the day of arrest of Gandhi. The news of Quit India Movement and Gandhi’s arrest took the people unaware but the reaction was spontaneous.
All the major cities of India which included Bombay (now Mumbai), Calcutta (now Kolkata), Bangalore, Ahmadabad and the entire nation came to a standstill. Government’s reaction was repressive which began with indiscriminate firing and mass arrest.
The second phase began from the middle of August when the focus shifted from the centre to the out skirts where the mob began to attack the court buildings. Places like eastern parts of U.P., Bihar, West Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra where the mob tried to set up parallel governments though short-lived and unsuccessful.
The large suppressions executed by the government helped the people to organise the third phase of the movement which entered its longest and most formidable phase.
This was characterised by the youth and was directed against communications and police confrontations, occasionally rising to the level of Guerrilla Warfare.
In Bombay, Poona, Satara, Karnataka and U.P., underground organisations became active. The Government atrocities crossed all the limits but failed to restrict the movement from reaching its climax.
FAILURE OF THE MOVEMENT
The Quit India Movement failed due to several reasons:
- The Muslim League did not extend its support to the movement.
- R. Ambedkar, the leader of the depressed class described the movement as ‘irresponsible and act of madness’.
- D. Sarvarakar, the leader of Hindu Mahasabha directed the Hindus not to participate in the movement.
- The apathetic attitude of different organisations towards the movement contributed a lot for its failure.
- As the prominent Congress leaders remained behind the bars, the movement could not receive proper direction.
- The faithfulness of the British officials also helped a lot for the failure of the movement.
IMPORTANCE OF THE MOVEMENT
The importance of the Quit India Movement can never be undermined. It witnessed nationalistic feelings of the people at the zenith.
- For the first time, the government was astonished by observing the powerful nationalistic feelings of the Indians added with Anti-British feelings.
- It convinced the British Government that their days were numbered in India and they had to free the country from their clutch.
- It hastened the process of India’s march towards freedom.
- Realising the anti-British feelings of the Indian people, the British Government changed its attitude.
- The Quit India Movement thus quickened the process of freedom.
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