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  • SURGE TOWARDS FREEDOM

INDIAN NATIONAL MOVEMENT – 06

RISING TIDE OF NATIONALISM

The failure of the outbreak of 1857 opened a new phase in India’s struggle for freedom. The idea of open armed resistance against the British was now at a discount though it was not altogether discarded as is evident from the Santhal outbreak (1855) in Bihar and The Indigo Disturbances (1859-2862) In Bengal

The Wahabis too carried on a relentless struggle against the British, which could only be suppressed after the State Trials Of Ambala (1864), Patna (1865), Malda (September 1870) and Rajmahal (October 1870). 

Important leaders of the movement – Yahya Ali, Ahmadullah, Amiruddin, Ibrahim Mandal and Rafique Mandal were tried, convicted and transported for life. Similarly the Kukas in the Punjab, under their Guru. RAM SING put up a stout resistance against the British (1872), resulting in many casualties and the deportation of their Guru to Rangoon where he died in 1855.

The political ideas and organizations which had taken root before 1857 now flowered into a new national or political consciousness. This was brought about by the sudden revelation of the past glory of India through the works of scholars like William Jones, James Prinsep, Max Muller, James Fergusson, H.H. Wilson, R.G. Bhandarkar and Rajendrala Mitra, and through Excavations And Explorations carried on under the supervision of Alexander Cunningham. The preachings of the various religious associations as the Arya Samaj, Theosophical Society and Ramakrishna Mission also helped to foster pride in the country and its glorious past.

To these factors was added the discontent of the intelligentsia against British rule. The economic ruin of the country, caused by the selfish policy of a mercantile England, was emphasized by the chronic poverty of the people and recurrence of famines. Even when millions were dying of famine in the South, a magnificent Durbar (January 1, 1877) was held at Delhi and its expenses had to be borne by the famished people of India. Another disconcerting feature was the racial arrogance of the English. Rude behavior towards Indian, sometimes accompanied by Brutal Assault, striking of servants and ordinary men on the slightest provocation and turning even respectable Indians out of railway compartment was quite common. While Englishmen were let off with very light punishment even for heinous crimes, Indians were severely punished for the slightest offences or discourtesy to Englishmen. 

SURGE TOWARDS FREEDOM

KOMAGATA MARU, a Japanese steamer, was chartered by Gurdit Singh, a public-spirited Sikh who had settled in Singapore along with some other Sikhs. it sailed from Hong Kong on April 4, 1914. After it reached Vancouver, the local authorities refused to allow the passengers to land ‘except in a few cases, as the immigrants had not complied with the requirements of the law’. After some resistance, the Komagata Maru passengers had to agree to return on July 23. Meanwhile, the First World War broke out and due to certain circumstances the vessel had to come to India. It moored at Budge Budge near Calcutta on September 29. The passengers were to the taken to the Punjab in a special train. But ‘ the Sikhs refused to enter the train and tried to march to Calcutta in a body. They were forcibly turned back by the police and a riot ensued with loss of life on both sides. Both in the punjab and in Bengal, the situation was rapidly deteriorating. The Government of India passed The Defence Of Indian Act In 1915, which authorized the appointment of special tribunals for the trial of revolutionaries. Severe measures were taken by the Government against them. A Pan-Islamic Party, guided from Kabul by Mahendra Pratap and Barkatullah, also tried to foment revolution in the Punjab.

HUMILIATION – SATYAGRAHA

The treatment meted out to the Indian in South Africa by the Government there, against which Gandhiji (1869-1948) had launched satyagraha, humiliation of the Indians in other British colonies and the question of Indian emigration to the British colonies had become matters of deep concern for the Indian. Besides, there was growth of a new feeling among the educated Muslims whose outlook was considerably influenced by the Anglo-Russian agreement of 1907 about Persia, the nationalist movements in Turkey and Persia, the war between Italy and Turkey (1911), and the Balkan Wars (1912-1913).

This new consciousness helped the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity. The All India Muslim League gave up its exclusive attitude from 1913 onwards. At its annual session, held at Lucknow on March 22, 1913 it declared its aim to be ‘the attainment of self-government for India along with the other communities’. Both the Congress and the Muslim league held their annual sessions at Lucknow in December 1916 and concluded the ‘Lucknow Pact’ by which the Congress agreed to separate electorates. Both the organizations jointly formulated a scheme of reforms known as the ‘Congress-League Scheme’. The resolution for self government demanded that India should be made ‘an equal partner in the Empire with the self governing dominions.’

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