Quit India Movement or “Bharat Chhodo Andolan” was launched by Mahatma Gandhi on August 8, 1942 to get independence from British rule.
As we celebrate the 75 Years of Quit India Movement, let’s have a quick look at the Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle for freedom, eradication of hate from societies and unity among people of India.
Mahatma Gandhi launched the Champaran campaign in Bihar to protect the rights of peasants and create awareness among the peasants against the European planters.
In Champaran, a district in the state of Bihar, thousands of poor farmers were forced to grow indigo and other cash crops instead of food crops, necessary for their survival.
The peasants were forced to devote the best part of their land and put maximum efforts in growing indigo in return of poor wages.
It was the second satyagraha after Champaran that extensively contributed in Indian freedom movement. It was conducted under the leadership of Gandhiji, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Indulal Yajnik, N.M. Joshi, Shankerlal Pareekh and several others.
It is also called no tax peasant struggle because it had emerged after peasants suffered a famine resulting into huge losses in crops but Gujarat government kept on demanding full land tax. This conflict of tax lead to this satyagraha.
It was a major event in Indian freedom movement launched on 1st August 1920. Led by Gandhi, it was aimed at resisting the British rule through nonviolent means.
It was also intended to show resentment against the Rowlatt Act and Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The movement urged people to primarily use Khadi and Indian material, and boycott British goods.
It also urged people to boycott British educational institutions and law courts, resign from government employment and refuse to pay taxes.
Gandhi was arrested by the British Government on charges of sedition, for leading a campaign of mass civil disobedience against the British rule in India.
He was sentenced to six years in prison but it couldn’t deter him, he continued to build Indian unity and used non-cooperation to oppose British rule.
He was released after two years of sentence due to medical reasons.
Cooperation among Hindus and Muslims, which had been strong during the non-violence campaign, was breaking down. Gandhi attempted to bridge those differences by all possible means.
In September 1924, Gandhi went on a 21-day long fast against the anti-Hindu violence in Kohat in the North-West Frontier Provinces.
He ended this fast while listening to Quran and Gita that were being read.
Mahatma Gandhi led the Dandi march from his Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, Gujarat to advocate the production of salt without paying tax that was imposed by British government.
The 24-day salt march was an act of civil disobedience to protest against British salt monopoly that deemed the sea-salt reclamation activities of locals, as illegal.
This march gained global attention which gave impetus to Indian Independence movement.
In March 1931, the Irwin-Gandhi pact was signed, according to which the British government agreed to free political prisoners participated in freedom fighting movement, if Gandhi denounce the civil disobedience movement.
This pact also proposed the withdrawal of all ordinances issued by the British Government intended to curb the activities of the Indian National Congress.
The pact also permitted the free collection or manufacture of salt by persons near the sea-coast.
In late 1942, Gandhi launched the Quit India civil obedience movement to demand immediate independence for India.
Gandhi and almost all the Congress leaders were imprisoned; the severest repression was launched against the Congress—its funds were frozen, offices were sealed and media was plugged.
Gandhi always advocated peaceful and non-violent movement but people didn’t pay heed and resorted to violent means.
The British Cabinet Mission of 1946 to India was aimed to discuss the transfer of power from the British government to the Indian leadership.
It was also aimed at preserving India's unity and granting it independence. The cabinet mission’s role was to hold discussions with the representatives of India and British and to set up a constitution body with the support of main Indian parties.
What Gandhi Ji had feared all the while was about to turn into a reality. This act partitioned British Indian into two new dominions of India and Pakistan.
This act had a provision of termination of British suzerainty over the princely states, and recognised the right of states to accede to either dominion along with the establishment of Governor General office in both the countries.
The act abolished the use of title "Emperor of India" by the British monarch.
The division of British India in 1947 was accompanied with the creation of two independent dominions, India and Pakistan.
This partition included the division of two provinces, Bengal and the Punjab, based on district-wise Hindu or Muslim majorities that also included the division of army, navy, civil service, railways etc.
The boundary demarcating India and Pakistan got famed as the Radcliffe Line.
Mahatma Gandhi announced fast in Delhi to end Hindu-Muslim violence. The fast compelled people to think afresh on the problem and solution, for which he had risked his life.
The tensions between the two communities escalated when the Government decided to refuse the payment of Rs 55 crores as per the agreement made by the partition Council.
Gandhi considered this fast, as one of his greatest fasts.
1948, Gandhi Ji Assassinated
On the unfortunate day of 30 Jan 1948, Nathu Ram Godse, member of a right-wing Hindu paramilitary volunteer organization came to attend Gandhi’s prayer meeting. He whipped out his pistol and fired three shots. Gandhi instantly collapsed and his last words was ‘Hey Rama’ (Oh! God).
Gandhi Ji, who was a prophet of non-violence, a beacon light to humanity, and an propagator of change through peaceful means was killed out of visceral hatred.