QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT – 1942


The failure of the Cripps Mission made the Indians frustrated and embittered.

The Indian leaders were convinced that India would be a victim of Japanese aggression only because of British presence in India.

Gandhiji said, “the presence of the British in India is an invitation to Japan to invade India”.

Subhash Chandra Bose, who escaped from India in 1941, repeatedly spoke over radio from Berlin arousing anti-British feeling which gave rise to pro-Japanese sentiments.

The Congress under Gandhiji felt that the British must be compelled to accept Indian demands or quit the country.

A meeting of the Congress Working Committee in Wardha passed the Quit India Resolution on 14th July, 1942 which was later endorsed and passed on 8th August at the Bombay session of the Congress.

On 8 August 1942, Gandhi made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech delivered in Mumbai at the Gowalia Tank Maidan.

But before the Congress leaders could start the movement formally, all important leaders of Congress were arrested before the dawn of 9th August 1942.

Congress was banned and declared as an illegal organization.

The Press was censored.

The news of the arrest of popular leaders shocked the nation. Their anger and resentment was expressed through numerous agitations, hartals, processions and demonstrations in all parts of the country.

Railways and telegraphs lines were disconnected.

At some places, such as in Balia district in U.P., Midanapur district of West Bengal and in Satara in Bombay, the revolt took a serious turn.

Although Gandhiji was jailed at once, younger activists organised strikes and acts of sabotage all over the country.

Particularly active in the underground resistance were socialist members of the Congress, such as Jayaprakash Narayan.

In several districts, such as Satara in the west and Midanapur in the east, “independent” governments were proclaimed.

The British responded with much force.

It took more than a year to suppress the rebellion.

Quit India” was genuinely a mass movement, bringing into its ambit hundreds of thousands of ordinary Indians.

It especially energised the young who, in very large numbers, left their colleges to go to jail.

However, while the Congress leaders were in jail, Jinnah and his colleagues in the Muslim League worked patiently at expanding their influence.

It was in these years that the League began to make a mark in the Punjab and Sind provinces where it had previously had scarcely any presence.

In June 1944, Gandhiji was released from prison.

Later that year he held a series of meetings with Jinnah, seeking to bridge the gap between the Congress and the League.

In 1945, a Labour Government came to power in Britain and committed itself to granting independence to India.

 

Opposition to the Quit India Movement –

The Muslim League opposed the Quit India Movement as it was of the view that if the British left India in its current state, Muslims as a minority would be oppressed by the Hindu majority.

Hindu nationalist parties like the Hindu Mahasabha openly opposed the call for the Quit India Movement and boycotted it officially.

In 1942, the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), under M.S. Golwalkar refused to join in the Quit India Movement.

The Communist Party of India opposed the Quit India Movement.

The movement had less support in the princely states, as the princes were strongly opposed and funded the opposition.