'Quit India' Movement of 1942




'Quit India' Movement of 1942:

The executive council of the Indian National Congress passed a resolution at Wardha that the British should quit India. This resolution was to receive final approval in the session at Mumbai. On 7th August 1942 the session of the Indian National Congress began on the Gowalia Tank Ground in Mumbai. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was the President of this session.

With the outbreak of the war in 1939, Gandhi was dragged back into the political arena. He had loyally supported the Empire in the First World War. In the Boer War, even though his moral sympathies were with the Boers who were fighting for their independence, he had offered his services to the Empire out of a sense of loyalty. His feelings were different now, though, as stated, "my sympathies are wholly with the allies." He had came to believe "all war to be wholly wrong". He was also aware of the anomaly in Britain's position in fighting for freedom while denying India her. There were many patriots in India who felt that this was the hour to strike since Britain's difficulty was India's opportunity. But Gandhi refused to countenance such an attitude. "We do not seek our independence out of Britain's ruin. That is not the way of non-violence."

The majority of Congress leaders would have welcomed participation in the war effort, provided India could do so as an equal partner with Britain. Gandhi did not believe in conditional non-violence, but he was realistic enough to know that he could not carry the majority of the Congress leaders, who were at best patriot-politicians, not saints, along the arduous path of absolute non-violence. Nor was he vain enough to insist on the Congress accepting his terms as the price of his leadership, though he knew that in the impending political crisis the party could not do without him. He, therefore, effaced himself and advised the nation to accept the Congress stand and pleaded with the British on its behalf.

But the British Government was in no mood to listen and Winston Churchill was frank enough to say that he had not become "the King's First Minister in order to preside at the liquidation of the British Empire." In the meanwhile, the situation rapidly deteriorated. The British were unable to stem the Japanese advance to the Indian border. The people were becoming increasingly restive and impatient, and Gandhi feared that if this excitement were not given an organized non-violent expression, it would break out in sporadic disorder and violence. Since the British did not seem able at that time to ensure India's defense and were not willing to let India defend herself, Gandhi called upon them to "Quit India" and prepared to organize satyagraha. Addressing the historic session of the All India Congress Committee on August 7, 1942, he said: Our quarrel is not with the British people; we fight their imperialism. The proposal for the withdrawal of British power did not come out of anger. It came to enable India to play its due part at the present critical juncture."

On 8th August, in this session Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru presented the resolution of ‘Quit India’ and it was approved with a great majority. It was demanded that the British should immediately leave India. In this session, it was also decided that the ‘Quit India’ movement should be taken forward with a non-violent approach under Mahatma Gandhiji’s leadership. Mahatma Gandhi appealed to all Indians saying, “This movement is not of the Indian National Congress, but of all Indians. Every Indian man and woman should know in their mind that they are free citizens from this very moment and they should prepare themselves to fight”. While emphasising that this was going to be a very rigorous fight Mahatma Gandhi said, “Today I am going to give you the mantra, ‘Do or Die’. This should be the oath to which we commit ourselves. Prepare to sacrifice yourselves for this oath.’’ Gandhiji’s words created a new spirit among Indians.

The British Government tried to crush the ‘Quit India’ movement before it started. Before the day of 9th August could see sunlight, all prominent leaders like Gandhiji, Maulana Azad, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel were arrested. The government put a ban on public gatherings, speeches, rallies, and protestations. It sealed all the offices of the Indian National Congress, in the country. The resistance put up by all, aged and young in the villages like Chimur, Ashti, Yawali, Mahad, Gargoti, etc. with steadfastness and courage will indeed be remembered forever.

By the end of 1942, this movement supported by common people took a different turn. Its leadership was assumed by the young socialist leaders. Jayprakash Narayan, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, Achyutrao Patwardhan, Aruna Asaf Ali, S.M. Joshi, N.G. Gore were on the forefront among them.

Several revolutionary groups were established in the country at local levels. The groups like 'Azad Dasta' established by Bhai Kotwal, in Karjat Taluka, ‘Lal Sena’ in Nagpur established by General Awari left no alternative for the British Government but pray god. In Mumbai Vitthal Javheri, Usha Mehta and their colleagues started a transmission centre, named ‘Azad Radio’.

In 1942, in some parts of India, people were successful in uprooting British Governance. In Midnapur District (Bengal), Balia (U.P.), and Bhagalpur, Purnia (Bihar) near Azamgarh the British officers were forced to leave their offices. People took charge of the governance at these places. Krantisinha Nana Patil, a revolutionist established Pratisarkar (parallel government) in the Satara district of Maharashtra. He, with the help of his associates, put an end to the British regime in the Satara district and established the ‘People’s Government’. This government took over the administrative tasks like collecting revenue, maintaining law and order, solving the court cases, punishing criminals.

In this period the foundation of British rule in India became weak. The ‘Quit India’ movement was an expression of the strong opposition of the Indian people to the British rule. The British administrators became aware that it will be difficult for them to rule the Indians any longer. The end of the British Empire was evident to them. The ‘Rebellion of the Sailors of the British Indian Navy - 1946’ added to the unrest against the British. Thus, when the possibility of India becoming a free nation had become evident, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his party, the ‘Muslim League’ began to insist on a separate nation for the Muslims. There were many communal riots in many parts of the country. It finally resulted in the partition of the country. In the month of August of 1947, ‘India’ and ‘Pakistan’ two separate nations came into existence.

History tells us that it was India, the nation that created an example for the world of fighting successfully against the colonial rule. It gave inspiration to many countries that were suffering under the shackles of colonial rule.

The Constitution of independent India came into implementation on 26th January 1950. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s vision was the major force in shaping the ‘Constitution of India’. The fundamental values on which the struggle for India’s freedom was founded, included, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Justice. These values have built the foundation of the Indian Constitution.

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