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The Quit India Movement (Bharat Chhodo Andolan or the August Movement (August Kranti)) was a civil disobedience movement launched in India in August 1942 in response to Mohandas Gandhi's call for immediate independence. Gandhi hoped to bring the British government to the negotiating table. Almost the entire Indian National Congress leadership, and not just at the national level, was put into confinement less than twenty-four hours after Gandhi's speech, and the greater number of the Congress leaders were to spend the rest of World War II in jail.
World War II and Indian involvement
By 1942, Indians were divided over World War II, as the British Governor-General of India, Lord Linlithgow, had unilaterally and without consultation brought India into the war. Some wanted to support the British during the Battle of Britain, hoping for eventual independence through this support. Others were enraged by the British disregard for Indian intelligence and civil rights, and were unsympathetic to the travails of Britons in the United Kingdom.
Opinions on the War
At the outbreak of war, the Congress Party had during the Wardha meeting of the working-committee in September 1939, passed a resolution conditionally supporting the fight against fascism, but were rebuffed when they asked for independence in return. Gandhi had not supported this initiative, as he could not reconcile an endorsement for war (he was a committed believer in non-violent resistance to tyranny, used in the Indian Independence Movement and proposed even against Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Hideki Tojo). However, at the height of the Battle of Britain, Gandhi had stated his support for the fight against fascism and of the British War effort, stating he did not seek to raise a free India from the ashes of Britain. However, opinions remained divided. After the onset of the war, only a group led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose took any decisive action. Bose organized the Indian National Army with the help of the Japanese, and, soliciting help from the Axis Powers.
In March 1942, faced with an increasingly dissatisfied sub-continent only reluctantly participating in the war, and deterioration in the war situation in Europe and South East Asia, and with growing dissatisfaction among Indian troops- especially in Europe- and among the civilian population in the subcontinent, the British government sent a delegation to India under Stafford Cripps, in what came to be known as theCripps' Mission. The purpose of the mission was to negotiate with the Indian National Congress a deal to obtain total co-operation during the war, in return of progressive devolution and distribution of power from the crown and the Viceroy to elected Indian legislature. However, the talks failed, having failed to address the key demand of a timeframe towards self-government, and of definition
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. The telegram was published in the press.. However. He also sent a copy to Sambamurty (former Speaker of the Madras Assembly). 1942. The Congress had lesser success in rallying other political forces under a single flag and mast. At Gowalia Tank. Pattabhi Sitaramiyya. He told the masses to act as an independent nation. as were many veteran Gandhians and socialists like Asoka Mehta and Jaya Prakash Narayan. The draft proposed that if the British did not accede to the demands.of the powers to be relinquished. The Congress should first concede openheartedly and with handshake to Muslim League the theoretical Pakistan.. start total disobedience. Due to the arrest of major leaders. it proved to be controversial within the party. Rajendra Prasad and Dr. massive civil disobedience would be launched. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Dr. Smaller parties like the Communist Party of India and the Hindu Mahasabha opposed the call. and it stated: ³I am in receipt of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru¶s letter of July 8th. the Indian National Congress passed a resolution demanding complete independence from the British government. Resolution for immediate independence On July 14. Rajendra Prasad were openly and enthusiastically in favor of such a disobedience movement. All the members of the Party's Working Committee (national leadership) were arrested and imprisoned at the Ahmednagar Fort. responded the next day by imprisoning Gandhi at the Aga Khan Palace in Pune. If the British refuse. essentially portraying an offer of limited dominion-status that was wholly unacceptable to the Indian movement. 1942. and thereafter all parties unitedly make demand of Quit India. Muhammad Ali Jinnah's opposition to the call led to large numbers of Muslims cooperating with the British. His call found support among a large number of Indians. Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Azad were apprehensive and critical of the call. already alarmed by the advance of the Japanese army to the India/Burma border. 1942 the Quit India Resolution was passed at the Bombay session of the All India Congress Committee (AICC). Mashriqi was apprehensive of its outcome and did not agree with the Congress Working Committee¶s resolution and on July 28. and so did some local and regional level organizers. A prominent Congress national leader Chakravarti Rajgopalachari quit the Congress over this decision. Rajagopalachariar. Allama Mashriqi (head of the Khaksar Tehrik) was called to join the Quit India Movement. Suppression of the movement The British. Mahatma Gandhi. My honest opinion is that Civil Disobedience Movement is a little pre-mature. Allama Mashriqi sent the following telegram to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. but backed it and stuck with Gandhi's leadership till the end. a young and till then relatively unknownAruna Asaf Ali presided over the AICC 2 . Jawaharlal Nehru. and the Muslim League obtaining power in the Imperial provincial governments. On August 8. Bombay. Gandhi told Indians to follow non-violent civil disobedience.
Over 100. and established their own independent rule. now the easternmost district of Uttar Pradesh. and demonstrators were subjected to public flogging. while the entire Congress leadership was incarcerated. broke open the jail.session on August 9 and hoisted the flag. Later. and was nowhere near its grandiose aim of toppling the Raj. mass fines were levied. At some places bombs exploded. The entire Congress leadership was cut off from the rest of the world for over three years. The British swiftly responded with mass detentions. Hundreds of resisters and innocent people were killed in police and army shootings. These actions only created sympathy for the cause among the population. as well as Congress opponents like the Communists sought to gain political mileage. India was mostly peaceful again. Some historians claim it failed. Workers remained absent en masse and strikes were called. By early 1944. Even the Congress.000 arrests were made nationwide. Although the British released Gandhi on account of his failing health in 1944. People overthrew the district administration. many national leaders went underground and continued their struggle by broadcasting messages over clandestine radio stations. but ultimately did not take that step out of fear of intensifying the revolt. not all demonstrations were peaceful. Nevertheless. and transport and communication lines were severed. Gandhi kept up the resistance. Analysis of the campaign obtained by Military Intelligence in 1943 came to the conclusion that it had failed in the aim of paralysing the government. It took weeks before the British could reestablish their writ in the district." However. possibly to South Africa or Yemen. Despite this. at the time saw it as failure. The British sense of crisis was strong enough that a battleship was specifically set aside to take Gandhi and the Congress leaders out of India. the movement may be deemed to have ultimately failed to bring the Raj to its knees and the negotiating table for immediate transfer of power. and establishing parallel governments. By March 1943. Gandhi's wife Kasturbai Gandhi and his personal secretary Mahadev Desai died in months. It did however cause enough trouble and panic among the War administration for General Lockhart to describe India as an "Occupied and hostile country. much as it might have disconcerted the Raj. A sense that the movement had failed depressed many nationalists. Despite lack of direct leadership. The 3 . criticizing Gandhi and the Congress Party. It came to all but a close within five months of its inception. and Gandhi's own health was failing. However. large scale protests and demonstrations were held all over the country. as it aimed to. Contributions towards Indian independence The successes and failures of the Movement are debated. the movement had petered out. while Jinnah and the Muslim League. A minor uprising took place in Ballia Ballia. demanding the complete release of the Congress leadership. distributing pamphlets. the Congress party was banned. Gandhi went on a 21-day fast and maintained a superhuman resolve to continuous resistance. electricity was cut. government buildings were set on fire. released the arrested Congress leaders.
when seen in the light of the torrid times of Partition of India. and the Bombay mutiny had already shaken the confidence of British rule in India. A young. the local populace were successful in establishing parallel governments. new generation responded to Gandhi's call. which continued to function. Talcher. until Gandhi personally requested the leaders to disband in 1944. the British people and the British Army seemed unwilling to back a policy of repression in India and other parts of the Empire even as their own country lay shattered by the war's ravages. was the loyalty of the army. all political prisoners had been released and Britain adopted a political dialogue with the Indian National Congress for the eventual transfer of power. In Tamluk and Contai subdivisions of Midnapore. 4 . without doubt. argue that. however. and the states of India and Pakistan came into being. the movement is notable for regional success especially at Satara. the Azad Hind Government under Netaji Subhash Bose in Berlin deemed these an early indication of success of their strategy of fomenting public rebellion. On August 15. By early 1946. ascribing stupendous importance to the revolts and growing dissatisfaction among Royal Indian Armed Forces during and after the war as the driving force behind Britain's decision to leave India. Attlee deemed the contribution of Quit India as minimal. Clement Attlee. in fact. it seems. was also the view of the British Prime Minister at the time of transfer of power.primary underlying reason. At the time. the resulting militant movements. from intelligence reports. The INA trials in 1945. the war had sapped a lot of the economic. and Midnapore. can be termed one of the greatest examples of prudence of humanity. Some Indian historians. political and military life-blood of the Empire.This certainly. Indians who lived through Quit India came to form the first generation of independent Indians-whose trials and tribulations may be accepted to have sown the seeds of establishment of the strongest enduring tradition of democracy and freedom in postcolonial Africa and Asia. 1947. this transfer was complete. It is certain is that a population of millions had been motivated as it never had before to claim independence as a non-negotiable goal. and every act of defiance and rebellion only reinforced the nationalist sentiment. Also. the movement had succeeded In support of the latter view.which. although at the national level the ability to galvanize rebellion was limited. In addition. even where the local and native police came out in sympathy.
Nehru. Gandhi called on Britain to "leave India to God. Azad were arrested and Congress was declared an unlawful organization. The mantra is "do or die".Gandhi. y In early hours of 9th August. British Government sent Sir Stafford Cripps to India with proposal for a new constitution. 'Amen'. You imprint it on your heart and let every breath of yours give an expression to it. short one. Rajagopalachari suggested 'Retreat' or 'Withdraw'. the Congress Working Committee approved the resolution which declared"the immediate ending of the British rule in India is an urgent necessity both for the sake of India and for the success of the cause of United Nations. One of them suggested 'Get Out'. y Gandhi conferred with his colleagues for the appropriate slogan for the movement against British to leave India. all the top leaders . y In March 1942. y Gandhi in his stirring speech told the people "There is a mantra. The resolution which came to be known as 'Quit India Resolution' created on 'electrifying atmosphere' in the country. y The resolution was passed unanimously. 5 .'QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT'.Some of the highlights of 1942 . Facism and imperialism". That is how the historic slogan was selected. Bombay y On July 14th 1942. Gandhi rejected it as being impolite. That too was not acceptable. If this is too much then leave her to anarchy." y The historic session of the All India Congress Committee began on the 7th August 1942 and was concluded after midnight of 8th/9th August 1942 at Gowalia Tank Maidan."And it declared that free India "will assure the success by throwing his great resources in the struggle for freedom and against the aggression of Nazism. This proposal were found unsatisfactory and were rejected both by the Congress & Muslim league. Patel. that I give you. Gowalia Tank Maidan. y In May 1942. Yusuf Meheraly presented Gandhi a bow with a inscription bearing 'Quit India'. Gandhi said in approval. Mumbai.
The brain behind this brilliant activity was Dr. as it termed itself.34 metres was perhaps the only one and first of its kind in India. Usha Mehta. meetings & assemblies. It broadcasted the news of underground activity and directed the freedom fighters in their struggle. who later rose to be a distinguished professor of Politics in University of Bombay. 6 . there was nobody to guide the popular agitation. Even the private cars were not allowed to proceed unless there was a Gandhi cap on the head of at least one of the passengers. y The Congress Radio. calling on 42. she was then a girl student in Bombay.y With the arrest of all the national leaders. There were hartals and riots by the crowd. Despite the police warning large crowd had gathered at Gowalia Tank Maidan. Aruna Asaf Ali hoisted the Indian flag. The national flag was pulled down and volunteers who went to its rescued were beaten off. She was also Chairman of Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya and Gandhi Smarak Nidhi. It was located 'somewhere in Bombay' and was frequently moved from place to place. y Lathi charge and tear gas was used by the police to disperse the crowd which had gathered at Gowalia Tank Maidan. y The Government issued an order banning public processions.
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