Last Phase of Struggle for Independence Class 8 History Notes Maharashtra State Board
In this chapter, we are going to study the Quit India Movement, the underground movement, and the contribution of the Indian National Army.
Act of 1935:
This Act made a provision for the British-governed Indian provinces and the Princely States to form a federation. According to this act, the working of British-governed provinces will be handed over to the Indian representatives. If the princely states joined the federation then they would lose their autonomy, hence they refused to join. Therefore the proposal of the federal state in the Act was not brought into practice.
The Indian National Congress was not satisfied with the Act of 1935, but still decided to take part in the elections of the Provincial legislature provided by the Act. In 1937, elections were held in eleven provinces in the country. Among these, the Indian National Congress gained a majority over eight provinces and came to power. In the other three provinces, none of the parties could achieve a majority and therefore mixed cabinet was formed. The Cabinet ministers of the Indian National Congress did useful work for the people such as the release of political prisoners from jail, the introduction of basic education, the prohibition of liquor, measures undertaken to improve the condition of the Dalits, passing of an Act giving debt relief to the farmers, etc.
During the second world war, England supported America against Japan. The Japanese army reached the eastern borders of India. The British realized that if Japan attacked India, then they would need cooperation from the Indians. Hence the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent Sir Stafford Cripps to India. In March 1942, he put up a proposal of India in front of the Indians. However, none of the political parties was satisfied with this proposal. The Indian National Congress rejected the proposal since there was no clear mention of complete independence. Since there was no mention of the creation of Pakistan, the Muslim League also rejected the Cripps Mission.
Second World War and Indian National Congress:
The Second World War began in Europe in 1939. The then Viceroy Lord Linlithgow declared that India had joined the war on the side of the British. England claimed that it was fighting to save Democracy in Europe. The Indian National Congress demanded that if the claim was true then England should immediately grant freedom to India. England refused to fulfill this demand and therefore the provincial ministers of the Indian National Congress resigned in November 1939.
Quit India Movement:
After the Cripps mission, the Indian National Congress decided to start an intense movement to attain independence. The Working Committee of the Congress passed a resolution on 14 July 1942 at Wardha. The resolution demanded that British rule in India be ended immediately and India should be given independence. If this demand was not fulfilled then the Indian National Congress warned to start a nonviolent movement for freedom of India.
Quit India Resolution:
On 7 August 1942, the session of the Indian National Congress was held at Gowalia Tank (Kranti Maidan) in Mumbai. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was the President of this session. The British should leave India, this resolution passed by the Congress Working Committee at Wardha was to be finally approved in the Mumbai session. On 8 August the resolution of ‘Quit India’ put forth by Jawaharlal Nehru was passed with a great majority. It was also decided to start a nationwide nonviolent agitation under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji said, “Every one of you should, from this moment onwards, consider yourself a free man or woman and behave like a citizen of free India…. we shall either free India or die in the attempt.” Gandhiji made an inspirational appeal to the public to be ready to sacrifice with the feeling of ‘Do or Die’.
Beginning of People’s Movement:
The news of the arrest of important leaders of the Indian National Congress spread out all over the country. The angry mob took out processions at various places. Even though police lathi-charged and opened fire on the public still people were not afraid. The agitators attacked some places jails, police stations, railway stations etc. which symbolized the suppressive policy of the British. They tried to take control of Government offices. In Maharashtra, the young and old struggled with determination and boundless courage at places like Chimur, Ashti, Yavali, Mahad, Gargoti, etc., and made the struggle immortal.
The British Government was constantly neglecting the demands, hence the Indian National Congress decided to start anti-war propaganda. For this, it was decided that instead of a collective movement, every single person should disobey the laws. This was known as ‘Individual Satyagraha’. Acharya Vinoba Bhave was the first satyagraha of individual satyagraha. He was followed by nearly 25,000 satyagrahis who accepted imprisonment for their participation.
Inspirational Accounts of Brave Children:
The school students also contributed to the freedom movement. At Nandurbar, the school children, under the leadership of Shirishkumar, carried out a procession holding the tri-colour flag. The slogan of ‘Vande Mataram’ was given. The police became furious and opened fire on small children as well. In this firing Shirishkumar, Laldas, Dhansukhlal, Shashidhar, and Ghanashyam, these school children became martyrs.
At the end of 1942, the public movement got a new turn. The leadership of this movement went into the hands of young socialist activists. Jayprakash Narayan, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, Chhotubhai Puranik, Achyutrao Patwardhan, Aruna Asaf Ali, Yusuf Meher Ali, Sucheta Kriplani, S.M. Joshi, Shirubhau Limaye, N.G. Gore, Yashwantrao Chavan, Vasantdada Patil, Maganlal Bagdi, Usha Mehta such leaders were in the forefront. The activists disrupted transport and communication as well as the government machinery by causing the breakdown of Railway routes, cutting off telephone lines, blowing up bridges, etc. The impact of the movement was seen all over India. Hemu Kalani, in Sindh province, tried to destroy the railway along with his companions when he received the news of the passing of a railway carrying British troops and supplies. The court punished him to be hanged to death.
Bhai Kotwal’s ‘Azad Dasta’ in Karjat taluka of modern-day Raigad district, and General Awari’s ‘Lal Sena’ in Nagpur such groups made the government helpless and witless for months. In Mumbai, Vitthal Zaveri, Usha Mehta, and her companions established a secret transmission center named ‘Azad Radio’. Patriotic songs were sung on it. News of agitations in the country were broadcasted on it. Patriotic speeches were telecasted. This encouraged the agitators. Such transmission centers operated in Kolkata, Delhi, and Pune for some time.
Establishment of Parallel Government:
At some places in the country, British officers were driven out and the ‘People’s Government’ was established. These are called ‘Parallel Government’. Parallel Governments were formed in districts of Midnapore in Bengal, Ballia, and Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, and Purnia in Bihar. In the Satara district of Maharashtra, in 1942, Krantisinh Nana Patil brought an end to the British government and established a parallel government. At Kundal, under the leadership of Krantiagrani G. D. alias Bapu Lad, ‘Toofan Sena’ was established. Through its medium, collection of taxes, maintenance of law and order, and punishment of criminals, such work was done by the Parallel Government. People started accepting the verdict passed by the People’s Court appointed by the Parallel Government. Opposition to money lenders, prohibition on liquor, spread of literacy, opposition to caste distinctions many such constructive work was done by this government. Due to this, the Parallel Government became a source of inspiration for the public.
Importance of the Quit India Movement:
The 1942 movement took up the form of a nationwide agitation. To fulfill the objectives of gaining independence lakhs of Indians made unlimited sacrifices. Many sacrificed their lives. The number of people participating in the struggle was so huge that even all the prisons in the whole of the country were not enough to contain them. The patriotic songs composed by Sane Guruji, Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj, and others increased the enthusiasm of the agitators. This nationwide movement is also called ‘August Kranti’.
Indian National Army (Azad Hind Sena):
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose made phenomenal efforts to gain independence of India. On the eastern borders of India, thousands of Indians stood in readiness to fight against the British. All these soldiers belonged to Azad Hind Sena. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was their leader. Subhash Chandra Bose was an important leader of the Indian National Congress. He graced the position of President of Congress twice. In his opinion, while England was engaged in the Second World War, the Indians should take advantage of it and made the movement more intense. If necessary India should seek the help of enemies of England. But there aroused a difference of opinion between him and other senior leaders of Congress. As a result, Subhash Chandra Bose resigned from the position of President. To place his views in front of the people he founded a party known as ‘Forward Bloc’.
Through his speeches, Netaji appealed to the Indians to revolt against the British rule. Due to this the Government imprisoned him. Subhash Chandra Bose went on fast unto death in the prison due to which the British Government interned him in his residence. From there he escaped in disguise. In April 1941 he reached Germany. There he founded the ‘Free India Centre’. From the Berlin Radio station in Germany, he appealed to the Indian people to join in an armed struggle. During this period, Rash Behari Bose invited Subhash Chandra Bose to Japan.
Formation of the Indian National Army:
Rash Behari Bose has been staying in Japan since 1915. He had organized the Indian patriots living in countries of South East Asia and established the organization named ‘Indian Independence League’. In the early part of 1942, Japan conquered the territories in South East Asia which were controlled by the British. Thousands of Indian soldiers and officers in the British army there fell into the hands of Japan. Rash Behari Bose, with the help of Captain Mohan Singh, formed a battalion of these Indian Prisoners of War. It was named as ‘Indian National Army’ (Azad Hind Sena). Later Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose led the Indian National Army. In October 1943, Netaji established the Azad Hind Government in Singapore. Shah Nawaz Khan, Jagannath Bhosale, Dr.Laxmi Swaminathan, Gurubuksh Sing Dhillon, Prem Kumar Sehgal, etc. were his chief associates. Captain Laxmi Swaminathan was the Commander of Rani of the Jhansi Regiment. Netaji appealed to the Indian people – ‘You give me blood and I will give you independence’.
Achievements of the Indian National Army:
In November 1943, Japan conquered the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and handed them over to the Azad Hind Government. Netaji renamed them as ‘Shahid’ and ‘Swarajya’ respectively. In 1944, the Indian National Army captured the Aarakan province in Myanmar. Posts on the eastern border of Assam were captured. In the same period, the campaign of Imphal remained incomplete because Japan stopped helping the Indian National Army. But in adverse circumstances, soldiers of the Indian National Army were dedicatedly fighting. But in the same period, Japan accepted defeat. On 18 August 1945, Subhash Chandra Bose died in a plane accident. On this background, the soldiers of the Indian National Army had to lay down their arms. Thus ended the thrilling phase of the Indian National Army.
Later, the British Government charged the officers of the Indian National Army with treason. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhulabhai Desai, Tej Bahadur Sapre these expert lawyers defended them. But the military tribunal held the officers guilty and they were sentenced to life imprisonment. Therefore there was severe unrest against the British Government in the minds of Indian people. Finally, the British Government had to suspend the punishments given by the military tribunal.
Revolts of the Indian Navy and Airforce:
The navy and Air Force soldiers, with the inspiration from the Indian National Army, caused discontent against the British Government. It burst out on the British warship ‘Talwar’ in Mumbai on 18 February 1946. The soldiers unfurled the tri-colored flag on the British warship. They raised slogans against the British Government. The British Government sent an army to open fire on the naval soldiers. The rebels also made counterattacks with firing. The workers and common people extended their support to the naval soldiers. Finally with the mediation of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the naval soldiers laid down their arms.
To support the uprising of naval soldiers, the Air Force officers from Delhi, Lahore, Karachi, Ambala, Meerut etc. went on strike. These revolts were a clear indication that the sentiments of discontent against the rulers had reached a climax. In this way, the period between 1942 to 1946 shook the foundation of British power in India. Through the Quit India Movement, the severe discontent of Indian people against the British was expressed. The army, Navy, and Air Force were the backbone of British power. They were also now opposing the British. Due to these incidents, the British rulers realized that they would not be able to empower India for a long period.
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