Quit India Movement
The students walked out of the universities and started a campaign of sabotage. Cases of arson and bomb throwing also became common. In U.P. three police stations were burnt, four post offices attacked and 79 village records totally burnt. In the Princely State of Mysore, 32,000 workers remained on strike for two weeks, while 80% of all university students walked out. Eight students were killed in Patiala State while they were trying to raise the national flag on public buildings; 100 were shot dead in Mysore procession. But the most brutal atrocities were those which were perpetrated in Chanda district of Bengal. In the Ballesore district of Orissa, 200 were reported killed. Far more significant were the arrests of 100,000 nationalists within a few months. In short, everywhere, Government repression was very harsh and police state was established to deal with the danger which constituted the gravest threat to the British rule since the Rebellion of 1857.
The Quit India Movement was short-lived but was, indeed,ï¿½intensive. By the end of August, the rebellion was broken,ï¿½though incidents continued to disturb the British for someï¿½months more. No doubt, the campaign failed in the face ofï¿½overwhelming armed strength, yet the feelings of politicallyï¿½conscious India was expressed. Moreover, the movement lentï¿½strength to the flame of anger which could not be extinguishedï¿½by the British might and which ultimately led to the withdrawalï¿½of the British from India. According to Ishwari Prasad : “All talkï¿½of dominion status was consumed in the fires of the revolt. Indiaï¿½would have nothing short of independent. Quit India had comeï¿½to stay. It was a terrific blow to the Imperial India.”
A careful and candid scrutiny of facts, however, reveals thatï¿½the Government was, in the main, guilty of large scale violenceï¿½which began after the arrest of the Congress leaders. However,ï¿½from that point onwards, the clash could not be averted. Itï¿½gave rise to a chain reaction for which the two parties sharedï¿½responsibility. The Viceroy charged that Gandhi was partlyï¿½responsible for the violence because of his ‘Do or Die’ statementï¿½ofï¿½8thï¿½ï¿½August, 1942. Gandhi denied this charge categoricallyï¿½saying that it was within the context of non-violence, sinceï¿½non-violence was the growing passion of his life, there is noï¿½reason to doubt his intent. Besides, Gandhi’s last instructionsï¿½to his followers (just before his arrest), were unambigious: “Letï¿½every non-violent soldier of freedom write out the slogan “Doï¿½or Die” on a piece of paper or cloth and stick it on his clothes,ï¿½so that in case he died in the course of offering Satyagraha, heï¿½might be distinguished by this sign from other elements whoï¿½do not subscribe to non-violence.”
In the meantime, Gandhi undertook a 21-days fast inï¿½February, 1943 which went off peacefully. The C.R. Formulaï¿½of 1944 was an example of the Congress’s appeasement policyï¿½Gandhi, while, addressing Jinnah as Quid-i-Azam (a greatï¿½leader) gave Jinnah a position which strengthened his statusï¿½in the eyes of the Indian Muslims. The C.R. Formula had theï¿½following features:
- The League was to accept the Indian demand forï¿½independence and co-operate with the Congress in theï¿½formation of provisional interim government.
- After the war, a commission would be appointed forï¿½demarcating contiguous districts in the north-west andï¿½east of India, where the Muslims were in a majority. Inï¿½these areas a plebiscite of all inhabitants on the basisï¿½of adult franchise would be held to decide the issue ofï¿½separation.
- In the event of separation, a mutual agreement,ï¿½safeguarding defence, commerce and communicationï¿½would be entered into.
- These terms would be binding only if full power wasï¿½transferred by Britainï¿½The Wavell-Amery proposals (1945) was an attempt to breakï¿½the Indian deadlock. Its chief feature were as:
- The offer proposed a reconstitution of the Viceroy’sï¿½Executive Council pending the preparation of a newï¿½constitution.
- All the members of the Executive Council except theï¿½Governor General and the Commander-in-Chief wereï¿½to be nominated from amongst the leaders of Indianï¿½political life.
- The Council would have a balanced representation ofï¿½main communities, including equal proportions ofï¿½Muslims and ‘Caste Hindus.’
- The portfolio of External Affairs (other than those ofï¿½tribal defence of India) was to be transferred from theï¿½Governor General to an Indian Minister of the Council
- It was expected that co-operation at the Centre would beï¿½reflected in the Provinces and responsible governmentï¿½would be restored, on the basis of coalition of the mainï¿½parties.
To discuss the new proposals, Wavell called a Conferenceï¿½of prominent Indian leaders at Simla. The conference startedï¿½in a hopeful atmosphere, but eventually broke down becauseï¿½the Muslim League would not allow the Congress to nominateï¿½a nationalist Muslim on the new Executive Council. Mr. Jinnahï¿½contended that the League was the sole representative of theï¿½Muslims, and as such only those Muslims it approved of shouldï¿½be included in the Executive Council. “The Simla Conference”,ï¿½writes Azad “marks a breakwater in Indian political history.ï¿½This was the first time that negotiations failed not on the basicï¿½political issue between India and Britain, but on the communalï¿½issue dividing different Indian groups.”
Written by princy