In this article you’ll learn about How Quit India Movement started, Mahatma Gandhi’s role in the Quit India Movement and the Independence of India.
How Quit India Movement Began:
Between 1939 and 1945 the world witnessed Second World War. The British government in 1942 sought the cooperation of the Indians to fight the Axis powers. In March 1942, the government sent a commission headed by Stafford Cripps in order to win over the Indian nationalists. The mission however failed to meet the demands of the Nationalists because the draft declaration was unacceptable to the Congress Working Committee as it did not give immediate and complete self rule. After the Cripps mission failed, Mahatma Gandhi launched the “Quit India Movement” in August 1942.
Role of Mahatma Gandhi In Quit India Movement:
Immediately after the launch of India Quit Movement, Mahatma Gandhi was arrested. However, younger activists such as Jai Prakash Narayan carried on the movement by organizing strikes, which took the British government more than one year to suppress.
In June 1944, Gandhi was released from jail. Thereafter, he observed that the Muslim League had begun expanding its influence in the Punjab and the Sindh provinces. Gandhi then held a series of meetings with Jinnha to arrive at some kind of compromise between the Congress and the Muslim League.
In 1945, when the Labour Party came into power in Britain, Viceroy Lord Wavell also reigned several meetings between the Congress and the Muslim League to bring them together. However, he couldn’t do so.
The political polarization amongst the Congress and the Muslim League became more apparent in 1946 during the election to the provincial legislatures. The Congress won all the seats in the general category. While the league won the seats reserved for Muslims with huge majority.
After the elections, a cabinet mission arrived in 1946 to bridge the gap between the two parties. However, it too failed to bring a compromise on a federal system of government with a degree of autonomy to the provinces. Subsequently Jinnah announced 16th August 1946 as direct action day to press the demand of Pakistan.
When 16th August arrived bloody riots broke out in Calcutta which spread to rural Bengal. After that the riots spread across the United Provinces and Punjab. Both the Hindus and the Muslims suffered heavy casualties.
In February 1947, Lord Mountbatten replaced Lord Wavell as the Viceroy. Mountbatten made one last attempt to achieve a compromise to a round of talks. But he failed.
The Independence of India:
When Mountbatten failed, he announced the British would free India with the creation of a separate country of Pakistan. The formal transfer of power was fixed on the 15th of August 1947.
The day of Independence was celebrated throughout the country. However, Mahatma Gandhi did not join the festivities in the capital. He was in Calcutta, morning before the breakup of the country and was on a hunger strike. Gandhi spent the months of September and October visiting hospitals and refugee camps to console the victims of the rites of the partition. Gandhi also appealed to the people of all religions to forget the past and be determined to live in peace. To provide constitutional protection Gandhi and Nehru took the initiative to pass a resolution through the Congress on the rights of the minorities.
The Congress wanted to assure that the minorities would enjoy equal rights and would be protected. After working to bring peace in Calcutta Gandhi moved to Delhi. In Delhi, the refugees disrupted Gandhi’s meetings as they objected to his readings from the Quran. They took him to be Pro-Muslim and demanded that he should also be concerned about the Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan.
At a prayer meeting of the 26th of January 1948, Gandhi expressed that Indians should work collectively for equality and India-Pakistan should help each other and act as one. A few Indians still objected to Gandhi’s idea.
On 30th of January 1948, Nathuram Godse, an editor of an extremist Hindu newspaper, shot Mahatma Gandhi dead. The death of Mahatma Gandhi wrapped the whole nation in grief. Politicians across the nation paid rich tributes. Appreciations of the life of Gandhiji also came in from international figures such as George Orville and Albert Einstein.