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THE FINAL ASSAULT: QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT
78 YEARS OF AUGUST KRANTI -AUGUST 8
8/7/2020 11:42:56 PM
Dr. Parveen Kumar, Dr. R. K. Arora

The British Raj, period of direct British rule over the Indian subcontinent spanned from 1858 until the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947.The British East India Company functioned as a sovereign power on behalf of the British Crown. The first armed rebellion against the British rule in the country began on May 10, 1857 in the form of a mutiny of sepoys of the Company’s army in the garrison town of Meerut, about 64 km northeast of Delhi It then erupted into other mutinies and civilian rebellions chiefly in the upper Gangetic plain and central India though incidents of revolt also occurred farther north and east. The rebellion posed a considerable threat to British power in that region and was contained only with the rebels’ defeat in Gwalior on 20 June 1858. Karl Marx first termed the 1857 revolt as First independence movement of India, in an article in New York Daily Tribune. In India, the term First War of Independence was first popularized by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in his 1909 book, ‘The History of the War of Indian Independence’, which was originally written in Marathi. The Indian rebellion of 1857 was a major, but ultimately unsuccessful, uprising in India in 1857–58 against the rule of the British East India Company. Since, the first war of independence in 1857 till 1947 when the country achieved independence, the Indian freedom struggle is a story of glory, nationalism, pride, sacrifice and suppression where lakhs of Indians lost lives, many were hanged till deaths and many others perished in jails.
But, It was only after the Quit India Movement of 1942, the British Government realized that it was impossible to keep India under reins in the long run due to the cost of World War II. Finally after conclusion of World War 2, India gained freedom on 15th August, 1947. The Indian war of independence marked its beginning many years before the beginning of Second World War. As a final assault to throw the Britishers out of the country, the Quit India Movement was launched at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee by Mahatma Gandhi on 8th August, 1942. The movement demanded an end to British rule in India. After the failure of Cripps Mission, Gandhi made a call to ‘Do or Die’ in his Quit India Speech. The Quit India Movement was also known as the India August Movement or simply August Kranti. Quit India was launched as a civil disobedience movement in response to MK Gandhi’s call for Satyagraha. The All-India Congress Committee announced a mass protest to demand an orderly withdrawal of British forces from India.
The historical Mumbai’s Gowalia Tank Maidan also known as ‘August Kranti’ Maidan is the place where Mahatma Gandhi delivered his speech marking the beginning of the Quit India Movement. Mahatma along with other leaders gathered here on August 8 and 9, 1942. The Maidan also now houses a monument as a tribute to the historical event. In his speech at Mumbai’s Gowalia Tank, Gandhiji called the nation to ‘Do or Die’.
The British government was very immediate to respond to this movement. Almost entire INC leadership was imprisoned without trial within few hours of Gandhi’s speech. Many of the imprisoned spent the rest of the war in prison with no contacts from outside world. Several national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Abdul Kalam Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel were arrested. The Congress was declared an unlawful association, leaders were arrested and its offices all over the country were raided and their funds were frozen. The first half of the movement was peaceful with demonstrations and processions. The peaceful protest was carried till Mahatma Gandhi’s release. The second half of the movement was violent with raids and setting fire at post offices, government buildings and railway stations. Lord LinIithgow adopted the policy of violence. The Viceroy’s Council of Muslims, Communist Party and Americans supported Britishers. After the arrest of major leaders, young Aruna Asif Ali presided over the AICC session. Despite several police warnings and government notices for banning public processions and assemblies, a large crowd gathered at Mumbai’s Gowalia Tank Maidan where Aruna Asif Ali hoisted the flag. The British had the support of Viceroy’s Council, which was constituted majorly by Indians. Apart from it, Indian Muslim League, princely states, the Indian Imperial Police, the British Indian Army and the Indian Civil Service backed the British forces. Students who were supporting Subash Chandra Bose, who was in exile, were supporting the Axis Powers. The outside support for India came from the Americans, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt put a pressure on Prime Minister Winston Churchill to agree to some of the Indian demands. But British denied independence, not until the war had ended. The denial led to sporadic violence around the country, where several thousands of leaders were imprisoned until 1945. The final phase of the movement was marked on September 1942 where mobs getting together and bombings in government places of Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh. The British refused to grant immediate independence and stated that it could only be granted after the war ended. Finally, India got independence in 1947. Finally, India attained independence on Aug. 15, 1947. Quit India Movement Day was an important movement in the freedom struggle where masses participated. The year 2020 marks the 78th anniversary of the Quit India movement. The day also celebrated as ‘August Kranti’ Day every year is a day observed to remember the historic ‘Quit India Movement’ initiated by Gandhi and the supreme sacrifices of Indians to get independence. This day is celebrated all over the country by hoisting of national flags, national integration speeches, tributes to various freedom fighters, organization of patriotic national level programmes and many other events.
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