Quit India Movement is also called August Kranti and Bharat Chhodo Movement. This movement was started by Indian National Congress in the leadership of Gandhiji.
Cripps Mission had already failed and Sir Stafford Cripps had left to Britain in April 1942. By now, it was clear that British Government was not ready to provide any real constitutional reforms during World War II.
Now, the situation in front of Indians was that.
- Firstly, After the failure of Cripps mission, Indians could not expect anything positive from British Government.
- Secondly, because of the presence of British Government in India, India was fearing an attack by Japanese Army.
And, this is quite obvious that in case of Japanese attack, not only Britain but India and Indian people will also get badly affected.
Japan And Britain were fighting against each other in World War II and Japan's only reason to attack India was the presence of British Government in India.
Apart from this, due to India’s forceful involvement in World War II, Indian economy was going through a very bad phase.
Quit India Resolution
Gandhiji himself felt that presence of British Government in India is an open invitation to Japan, to come and Invade India.
In order to save India from Japanese attack and to bring Indian economy on track, Gandhiji thought of a solution. And, the solution is just to force British out of India without any delay.
In July 1942, Congress Working Committee met at Wardha, Gujarat. Here, a resolution was passed. This resolution is called Wardha Resolution and more popularly as Quit India Resolution.
According to Quit India Resolution, Indian National Congress decided to initiate a mass movement under the leadership of Gandhiji.
Voices against Quit India Movement, within Congress
It is not that everybody in Congress was convinced to start Quit India Resolution. There were a set of people with INC who felt that it is not a good idea to initiate a movement at that time.
One of such leader was C Rajagopalachari, who resigned from INC in his protest against the initiation of Quit India Movement.
C Rajagopalachari believed that British Government is busy in World War II, at this time if they start a movement it can weaken the British Government and may lead to the situation that Japan or Germany comes and Invade India. So, Rajaji felt that Quit India Movement may worsen the situation.
Quit India Movement Launched
On 9th August 1942, Gandhiji called for a meeting at Gowalia Tank, Bombay.
Gowalia Tank is now known as August Kranti Maidan, It is currently in Mumbai.
Thousands of people gathered to hear Gandhiji, Here in this meeting Gandhiji officially launched the Quit India Movement. And, the slogan he gave was “DO or Die”.
In his speech Gandhiji promised that this time he is not willing to do any kind of negotiation with the Viceroy. Because, now Gandhiji was not ready to settle for anything less than complete independence.
While giving the slogan ‘Do or Die’ to the people of India, Gandhiji appealed to the people of India that this time either the people of India will get Independent or die in the effort to achieve it.
Gandhiji gave instructions to different sections of the society:
- Government Officers were also not to leave their job. Instead, extend their support to congress openly, while being in the job.
- Soldiers were asked not to leave their Posts and disobey any orders where they were asked to fire at their own countrymen.
- Also, Peasants and Landlords were also not to pay revenue to the government.
Gandhiji gave an instruction to everybody who wish to join the movement.It is possible that during the course of movement, congress leadership may not be able to issue instructions or guidance to the people associated with the Movement. In such Circumstances, people were expected to decide on their own and consider themselves as free citizen already.
How did the Quit India Movement Progressed ?
Within few hours of Gandhiji’s speech, entire Congress leadership including Gandhiji was put behind the bars.
Press was gagged. Especially the 2 newspapers published by Gandhiji – Harijan and National Herald. These 2 newspapers were banned for the entire during on Quit India Movement, however, other newspaper was banned only for some time.
Within 6 to 7 weeks, movement was at its peak. People from different part of India joined the movement. There were large number of cases reported related to Violence. Reason Being, Large number of people joined the movement but there was no leaders to guide them as all big leaders were in jail.
Major Highlights of Quit India Movement
- At lot of places, Indian Flag was unfurled on the government buildings.
- Crowd were targeting to disrupt British communication system.
Railway track were removed, Telegraph lines were disrupted and telephone lines were set on fire. Apart from this, Bridges were broken as well.
There were 1600 incidents of cutting telegraph lines reported at Karnataka alone.
- Major highlight of Quit India Movement was the setting up of Parallel Government at multiple places.
In some places, the revolutionaries made their local areas independent of the British rule. British Authorities ran away from these places.
- Students left the school and college. They played an important role in distributing the pamphlets and spreading the awareness.
- Underground Activities was also an important feature of this movement. This also includes the use of Congress Radio Broadcast.
Ushaben managed to start the Congress Radio Broadcast with the help of Nanka Motwani. Nanka Motwani was an owner of Chicago Radio Station, at America.
- As all the major leaders were in Jail, a number of young leaders came to fore. To name a few – Achyut Patwardhan, Aruna Asif Ali, Ram Manohar Lohia, Sucheta Kriplani, Biju Patnaik, Jayaprakash Narayan etc.
Amidst all this, in Feb 1943 the news start spreading that Gandhiji has started a 21 Day Fast. Gandhiji’s fast was an act of protest against British government’s act of pressurising him to condemn the violence.
British government was forcing him to condemn the violence spread across due to Quit India Movement. But, this time Gandhiji did not condemn the violent activities of the revolutionaries. Rather, He held British government responsible of this violence.
Gandhiji said that the ongoing violence is just the reaction of larger violence done by the British Government.
News of Gandhiji’s fast gave a new energy to the movement. Demonstrations and Strikes started all over.
As Gandhiji’s health was not so good. So, out of concern, thousands of appeals from all over India and abroad started reaching government’s mailbox.
On 6th May 1944, Gandhiji was released from the Jail on medical grounds.
Outcome of the Movement
After Gandhiji came out of jail in May 1944, movement slowed down. And, when in June 1945, Lord Wavell came up with his plan called Wavell Plan, Quit India Movement was formally ended.