Notes on The Quit India Movement, 1942

Amidst World War II, on 8th August 1940, the British Government announced dominion status to India through its famous 'August Offer' which was rejected by the Indians.

The Cripps Mission of 1942 was another step ahead which suggested full dominion status to India and also the right to secede from the British Commonwealth of Nations. This proposal was also rejected by the people of India.

The Quit India Resolution was passed on Saugus, 1942 by the All India Congress Committee, at Bombay that urged for the immediate end of the British rule in India. Addressing the people of India, Gandhi told, "Every one of you should from this moment onward consider yourself a free man or woman and act as if you are free.... I am not going to be satisfied with anything short of complete freedom. We shall do or die. We shall either free India or die in the attempt." To Gandhi, it was last struggle of his life to win the freedom of India. In the next day, the prominent Congress leaders including Gandhi were behind the bars.

Thus began strikes, processions, meetings and functions by the Indians all over the country. The Government, unaware of the change of Indian mind, started repressive measures to quell movement. In this second stage, the people went ahead and attacked railway stations, post offices, police stations etc.

As Government became more repressive, the people became violent and resorted to armed attacks at different places in U.P., Bengal, Madras, Bombay, Orissa. Arena Assar Ali, Jayprakash Narnia, Ram Menorah Lochia organized the underground movement and became constant headaches for the British Government. Anyway, with gradual march of time, the Government took all possible measures to quell the movement. When it realized that there is no harm from the side of the people of India, it freed Gandhiji from the jail in 1944 A.D.

The Quit India Movement failed stupendously due to several reasons. The Muslim League did not extend its support to it. B. R. Ambedkar, the leader of the depressed class described the Movement as "irresponsible and an act of madness".

V. D. Sarvarakar, the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, directed the Hindus not to participate in the Movement. The apathetic attitude of different organizations towards the Movement contributed a lot for its failure. As the prominent Congress leaders remained behind the bars, the Movement could not receive proper direction. The faithfulness of the British officials also helped a lot for the failure of the Movement.

The importance of the Quit India Movement can never be undermined. It witnessed nationalistic feeling of the people at the zenith. For the first time, the government was astonished by observing the powerful nationalistic feelings of the Indians added with anti-British feeling.

Further, it convinced the British Government that their days were numbered in India and they had to free the country from their clutch. It hastened the process of India's march towards freedom. Realizing the anti-British feelings of the Indian people, the British Government changed its attitude. The Quit India Movement quickened the process of freedom.