Chapter 34: FINAL STAGES OF THE NATIONAL MOVEMENT
The British had refused to offer
any concessions to the Indians. Gandhiji and Nehru the two
leaders who had steadfastly refused to launch any mass
movement as it would have affected the right of those who
were fighting the fascists felt that silence is no longer
the option. Gandhiji hence put the proposal of quit India
before the working committee in 1942.
The need for a mass movement was
necessary due to the situation of public discontent
against the British for high handedness and shortage of
essential supplies. The British had suffered serious
reverses in the war. It had abandoned its possessions in
Far East to the Japanese and people felt that in the event
of Japanese occupation same would be done in India too.
People had no faith in the British rule and were
withdrawing cash and valuables from post office savings
All India congress committee was
to met in Gowalia tank in Bombay to ratify this.
Gandhiji addressed the citizens at the ground to do or
die and not stop till freedom was won.
servants needed quit but they had to show allegiance to
too needn’t quit but couldn’t fire on their own people
who could remain firm should leave education
who could remain firm and be ready to sacrifice could halt
tax and revenue.
states should declare allegiance to the country and
recognize sovereignty of the people.
program was to be started after giving the government
three weeks of time. But the government was prepared in
advance and arrested all top congress leaders and
transported them to unknown destinations.
headless movement had the following features:
attacks on government installations
went on strike; students too boycotted schools and
of workers were being consolidated. Aruna asaf Ali and
Sucheta kriplani were prominent here.
not led by top leaders
radio was started and broadcasted news to different
cities. Usha Mehta and Ram manohar lohia played important
roles in radio.
government’s in many parts of the country.
the first time British government servants were
sympathetic to the protestors.
movement. But due to heavy repression by the government it
lasted for 8 weeks.
Situation Post World War - II
events that were most important was the INA trials and the
RIN [royal Indian navy] mutiny.
formed in 1942 with Indian POW’s in Japan. Subhash Chandra
Bose became the president of Indian independence league
and also the supreme commander of INA. He gave the country
the slogan of Jai Hind. The names of thee Indian brigades
were Subhash brigade, Gandhi brigade, Nehru brigade. The
women’s brigade was laxmibai brigade. The INA won Kohima
and marched towards Imphal but after the Japanese
surrender it failed to win. Subhash Bose went to Taiwan
and on his way to Tokyo his plane crashed and he died in
Royal Indian Navy:
ratings struck work due to the racial discrimination met
to them, constant abuses and unpalatable food. The people
too joined in due to unpopular British sentiment. Shops
were burnt; government establishments looted and ransacked
normal life was paralyzed. RIN mutiny was also seen in
other parts of the nation. The revolt by the armed forces
had a liberating impact on the public consciousness.
Sardar Patel however was able to convince the ratings to
decision to give freedom to the people was hastened by
paucity of English recruits to ICS had led to parity
between Indians and British. The Quit India movement and
the subsequent RIN and INA protests had eroded the loyalty
of the Indian officials. The ICS was considered as the
steel frame of the raj was fast weakening.
war had taken its consequences and the war weary
bureaucracy was not keen on continuing the British policy
were shaken when the government took no action against
protestors of INA and RIN. The officials were already
dismayed when the congressmen they suppressed in the civil
disobedience became their masters in 1937 when the
provincial elections took place.
were further affected when the congressmen demanded
inquiries on the excesses committed by officials during
the suppression of 1942 movement.
this the British felt that if the congress launched
another movement after the provincial elections then the
official machinery could not handle it. The virtual
disappearance of loyalty amongst the bureaucracy, army
and police is what led the British to finally quit
India. Hence a transfer of power was necessary and with
this motive a cabinet mission was sent to India in 1946.
Cabinet Mission Plan
wanted a united India which would be helpful in
commonwealth defense and which would have friendly
relations with Britain was needed. This thought was also
reflected in Attlee’s announcement that a minority shall
not be allowed to veto the progress of the majority. The
cabinet mission was convinced too that minority should be
accommodated within the existing framework of united
the cabinet mission plan:
would be divided into three separate groups and each would
meet to decide their own group constitutions.
would be a common center controlling defense, foreign
affairs and communications.
to frame the constitution. It would have members from
princely states, provincial governments [indirectly
elected] and nominated members.
interpreted the plan as positive to it since there
was no provision for Pakistan and a single constituent
assembly to be formed. The league accepted the plan
interpreting it to have provisions for a separate
Pakistan. However after Nehru declared the constituent
assembly to be sovereign, Jinnah withdrew leagues
acceptance of the plan.
Wavell's "Breakdown Plan"
Wavell presented this plan to the Cabinet Mission in May 1946 which
visualised a middle course between "repression" and "scuttle". This plan
envisaged the withdrawal of the British Army and officials to the Muslim
provinces of North-West and NorthEast and handing over the rest of the
country to the Congress.
Though superseded by the Cabinet Mission Plan,
Wavell's plan was an evidence of British recognition of the impossibility of suppressing any future
Desire in some high official circles to make a "Northern Ireland" of
however decided to continue with the formation of interim
government with only congress members and Nehru as de
facto head. Jinnah
threatened Attlee with direct action day which was
communal riots for wresting a separate Pakistan. This led
to 5000 deaths and the British feared a civil war like
situation. To prevent this Viceroy invited league members
to join the government even though they hadn’t accepted
the cabinet mission plan.
ATTLEE'S STATEMENT-FEBRUARY 20, 1947
A deadline of June 30, 1948 was fixed for transfer of power even if
the Indian politicians had not agreed by that time on the constitution.
The British would relinquish power either to some form of central
government or in some areas to the existing provincial governments if
the Constituent Assembly was not fully representative i.e., if the
Muslim majority provinces did not join.
British powers and obligations vis-a-vis the princely states would
lapse with transfer of power, but these would not be transferred to any
successor government in British
Mountbatten would replace Wavell as the viceroy.
The statement contained clear hints of partition and even Balkanisation
of the country into numerous states and was, in essence, a reversion of
the. Cripps Offer.
The provision of transfer of power to more than one centre was
acceptable to Congress because it meant that the existing Assembly could
go ahead and frame a Constitution for the areas represented by it, and
it offered a way out of the existing deadlock.
But the illusory hopes of a settlement were soon shattered as the
statement proved to be a prelude to the final showdown. The League
launched a civil disobedience movement to overthrow the coalition
government in Punjab, as it felt emboldened by the statement.
replaced by Lord Mountbatten who came to speed up the plan
to transfer power to the Indians. The Mountbatten plan of
3rd June 1947 was to transfer power to India
and Pakistan. Initially there would be dominion status for
a while till the situation can be controlled. The dominion
status was to keep India in the commonwealth as India’s
economic strength and defense potential were deemed
sounder and British trade and investment had higher
potential here. A boundary commission by Radcliffe
drew the boundary between India and Pakistan.
MOUNTBATTEN PLAN, JUNE 3, 1947
Punjab and Bengal would meet in two, groups Hindus and Muslims, to
vote for partition. If a simple majority of either group voted for
partition, then these provinces would be partitioned.
In case of partition, two dominions and two constituent assemblies
would be created.
Sindh would take its own decision. Referendum: in NWFP and Sylhet district of Bengal would decide the fate of these areas. Since the Congress had conceded a unified India, all their other
points would be met
Independence for princely states ruled out, they would either join
India or Pakistan. Independence for Bengal ruled out.
Accession of Hyderabad to Pakistan ruled out (Mountbatten
supported the Congress on this). Freedom would come on August 15, 1947.
The British finally left the subcontinent,
they chose to hand over power on 15 August 1947. This date was selected by
the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, as it was the second anniversary of the Japanese
surrender to the Allied Forces in the Second World War. He, and the politicians
waiting to take office, were unwilling to delay until the date some others
would have preferred – 26 January 1948.
plan was accepted because of the failure of the congress
to develop a connect with the masses and to stem the
surging waves of communalism. The direct action had led to
riots and would have continued to do so. The interim
government was powerless and had become a field of
confrontation. The interim government had failed to check
the governors and the provincial governments from abetting
riots. The other advantage was that the princely states
had to join India or Pakistan. Finally on 15th
august the day of independence dawned.
Merger of the Princely state
struggle [Operation Polo]:
though majority of population was Hindu it had a Muslim
Nizam. The Nizam had appointed a Pakistani as prime
minister. He also told Qasim Rizvi a leader of Rajakar to
maintain Islamic domination in India. The army finally had
to be sent to defeat the Nizam’s forces. In this freedom
struggle, Swami Ramanand Teerth [second Shiv Chatrapati]
played an important role. He was called father of Hyderabad