One of the major milestones in the freedom struggle of our nation was the Quit India movement had lasted from the year of 1942 till 1945, when it tended to tone down gradually during various widespread factors.
Launched by the father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi, this movement saw public participation like none other movement which had taken place in our country till that point of time. The entire nation of India echoed with the cries of “Karenge ya Marenge”, which translates to “Do or Die”.
As the last large-scale movement before India was granted independence from the British, this movement surely served as an important stepping stone to that success, as well as acted as a catalyst for the same.
In this essay, we shall briefly examine the causes and consequences of this movement, and simultaneously try to trace the major events which happened under its ambit.
Causes behind Quit India Movement
Several important events which had been happening in the late 1930’s had already ignited the initial sparks for a nationwide movement. The most important of these events were the Cripps Mission.
It was a mission which was sent to India in the year of 1942, and was headed by Sir Stafford Cripps, along with two other members.
The aim of it was to receive complete support and cooperation of the Indian’s in the Second World War, which the Indian leaders were sceptical to offer earlier. In exchange for the same, the mission guaranteed self-governmental rights to Indian citizens immediately after the termination of the said war.
However, the Cripps Mission was a major failure, and it further aggravated the Indians who were already discontent with the British action in the country and also regarding the issue about India’s participation in the world war.
Other factors were the constant and hostile resistance offered by the Muslim League, headed by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, to the workings of the mainstream political upheavals taking place in India, mainly dominated by the Indian National Congress.
The Day of Deliverance, as declared by the Muslim League, had taken place on the 22nd of October, 1939, and was especially disastrous.
Simultaneously, the demand for India’s independence was becoming more prominent outside India as well, owing to the change of parties in the British Parliament, as well as certain revolutionary activities which were being conducted outside the nation at that time by Subhash Chandra Bose and others.
The immediate reason for the movement to be launched was the complete rejection by the British government of the eleven points put forward by Gandhi. The movement began from the call for complete civil disobedience made at the Wardha Conference of Congress, on 14th of July, 1942.
Although this decision did not get the complete support from all the Congress leaders, it was still decided to be executed, and so began the Quit Indian Movement, from the 8th of August, 1942.
Just after the launch of this movement, all the important Congress leaders were immediately arrested by the police. It was a very calculated move by the British and was aimed at depriving the movement of any strong leadership. It must be mentioned here that this move did succeed, the youth of the country soon took things in their hands and led the movement from the front.
In areas all over the India, local uprising went out of control. Such areas include Satara in Maharashtra, Tamluk in West Bengal, and Talcher in Odisha. In several parts, parallel government was set up.
One of the most important leaders of this movement was Khan Abdul Gafar Khan (Bacha Khan) from the north-west frontier provinces. He was also called the Frontier Gandhi. Other leaders included Jayaprakash Narayan, Usha Mehta, Rashbehari Bose, Matangini Hazra, and many more.
The women participation in this movement was indeed noteworthy. Chittu Pande was another Gandhian leader who helped in the setting up of a parallel government in Balia, Uttar Pradesh. The insurgences in Balia continued to become quite violent.
Several nationalist radio stations were set up within and outside India as well. It is also interesting to note that the slogan ‘Quit India’ was not coined by Gandhi himself, which seems to be the popular belief.
It was actually coined by the socialist Congress leader named Yusuf Meherally. Subhash Chandra Bose set up the Azad Hind Fauj, or the INA (Indian national army) to aid India’s freedom struggle. However, his ideas of struggle were never properly materialised, because of his astonishing disappearance after boarding a flight.
Opposition to the movement
The movement was opposed by parties such as the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha, as well as the princely states and some prominent Congress leaders as well. The Communist Party of India also opposed the movement, mainly owing to global reasons.
The Muslim league opposed the movement due the apprehension of Hindu dominance over other religions if the British had left India in its current state.
Reasons for the decline of the movement
The main reason for the decline of the movement was the violent turn it had taken, as it fundamentally went against the Gandhian principle of nonviolence. Therefore, the course of the movement did not adhere to its initial plan, which was one of its major shortcoming’s.
Other than this, the movement also lacked a strong central leadership as most of the leaders were already in jail. Also, the British police adopted very extreme measures to deal with the insurgents, which also repressed the movement to some extent.
However, this movement made the British realise that the Indian could not be suppressed for a very long time anymore and there was an urgent need for the grating of Indian independence.
This movement was also brought into global attention by the media and therefore, there was a considerable amount of pressure on the British government from other influential nations as well to grant the same.
It can be thus said that the Quit India Movement was indeed a legendary movement organised and executed by the Indian’s and it did contribute largely to gain independence for our country.