Chapters :
  • SURGE TOWARDS FREEDOM – 06
  • QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT
  • SUBASH CHANDRA BOSE

SURGE TOWARDS FREEDOM - 06

All this caused great anxiety and excitement throughout India, in the midst of which Winston Churchill made an announcement on March II, 1942, that the British Cabinet had decided to send a mission to India under Sir Stafford Cripps, a member of the Cabinet, for solution of deadlock with a view to rallying ‘all the forces of Indian life to guard their land from the menace of the invader’. The Cripps proposals repeated the promise for grant of Dominion Status and a constitution making body after the war, consisting of representatives of India and Indian states. It was, however stipulated that, during the war period and until ‘the new constitution can be framed. His majesty’s Government must inevitably bear the responsibility for and retain the control and direction of the defence of India as part of their world war effort. Thus, there was to be no immediate change in the Government of India, though the national leaders felt that to organize what could be a “people’s war” against the Japanese who were advancing towards India with rapid strides, complete transfer of power to Indian hands was necessary.

QUIT INDIA MOVEMENT

Meeting at Bombay on August 8, 1942, the All-India Congress Committee adopted the ‘Quit  India’ resolution, repeating with all emphasis the demand for the withdrawal of British power from India, and sanctioned ‘a mass struggle on non-violent lines on the widest possible scale’ under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. The Government took prompt steps to prevent the outbreak of the movement. In the early hours of the morning of August 9. Mahatma Gandhi and the members of the Congress Working Committee were arrested and numerous other arrests followed quickly in different parts of the country. The movement soon developed as an unprecedented mass upheaval in which the students played a heroic role. It assumed a violent shape with open outbursts of popular indignation seeking to damage communication, obstruct Government activities and assail all that stood for British imperialism. The Government resorted to ruthless repression, such as indiscriminate arrests issue of ordinances, gagging of the Press, exaction of collective fines, employment of the military who committed atrocities and firing on crowds even from aeroplanes.

The movement seems to have been crushed by November 1942, but this was something like the lull before the storm. This harsh measures drove the discontent underground and secret activities to uproot British authority were continued in the next year by the Azad Dasta and some other revolutionary groups. The gospel of the new phase of the revolution was conveyed to the people by Jayaprakash Narayan at the end of December 1942, in a circular addressed by him to ‘All Fighters for Freedom.”

SUBASH CHANDRA BOSE

The movement of Subash Chandra Bose, a selfless patriot with unflinching determination, proved to be an additional cause of anxiety to the British Government. After his escape from India in 1944, he established contacts with the Governments of Germany and Japan. On the conquest of the Malay Peninsula by the Japanese, thousands of Indian soldiers were made prisoners by them. By an understanding with the Japanese Government. Subhas Chandra Bose, hailed as Netaji organized these Indians into an Azad Hind Fauj or Indian National Army. he proclaimed the establishment of a ‘provisional Government of Free India’ at Singapore and, in 1943, his soldiers, along with a Japanese army, marched upto the eastern frontier of India.

Indian affairs were extremely complicated and there was agony and anxiety in the country due to Mahatma Gandhi’s twenty-one-day fast as a moral protest against the Government’s excesses. C. Rajagopalachari proposed in a pamphlet entitled ‘The Way Out’ a solution for the constitutional deadlock through his doctrine of ‘Back to Cripps.’ he suggested giving concession to the principle of self determination for minorities and states ‘in a plan for a free and independent constitution’. Lord Wavell, who had reached Indian in October 1943 as its Governor-General also pleaded in vain for co-operation of all with the existing Government during war time.

POLITICAL DEAD – LOCK :

The communal question had become a baffling one as the Muslim League stiffened its demand for Pakistan. Against the Congress demand of ‘Quit India’, the Muslim league’s new slogan was ‘Divide and Quit’. Released from prison on May 6, 1944, Mahatma Gandhi made earnest efforts for communal harmony – which he regarded as his life’s mission- and held discussions with Jinnah. Instead of accepting his proposals, Jinnah observed in March, 1945. “Pakistan is our irrevocable and unalterable national demand… We shall never accept any constitution on the basis of a united India.”

Lord Wavell flew to London in March 1945. On his return to India after consultations with his Government, he made a proposal for the solution of the constitutional deadlock in June 1945, suggesting there in the reconstitution of the Central Executive Council in such a way that all its members, except the Governor-General and the Commander-in-Chief should be ‘leaders of Indian political life’ there being ‘a balanced representation of the main communities, including equal proportions of Muslims and Caste Hindus’.

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