Contribution of Royal Indian Navy Mutiny towards India’s struggle for independence

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Royal Indian Navy Mutiny was another landmark in India’s struggle for independence was the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny of 1946. Before the outbreak of the World War II, the Royal Indian Navy was formed being separated from the British Navy. The English officers of the Navy always ill-treated the Indian junior officers. There was a wide difference in salary between the British and Indian officers. The condition of the Indian soldiers attached to the Navy was miserable. They wanted to express their discontent.

The chance came in February 1946. On the seashore of Bombay, some Indian naval personnel attached to the warship ‘Tulare’ were receiving training. The poor food supplied to them and the highhandedness of their officers led them to protest it and they expressed’ it by displaying posters on the barrack walls containing the slogan ‘Hindustan Sindbad’, ‘Englishmen leave India’ etc.

The British officers suspected the Radio operator Data and imprisoned him. This led the navy personnel in the barracks to strike. Just by that time the I.N.A. Trial in the Red Fort had accused certain officers and soldiers. These naval personnel wanted to relieve immediately the officers and soldiers in the I.N.A.

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The mutiny soon spread to other barracks. M.S. Khan became the head of the National Central Strike Committee. The mutineers demanded better food, equal pay for English and Indian naval officers and soldiers, release of I.N.A. officers, soldiers and political prisoners etc.

The Hindus and Muslims ironed out the differences among them and joined hands to make the strike a success. The tricolor, crescent and hammer and sickle-flags were together raised on the mast heads of the rebel ship ‘Talwar’. When they returned to their barracks, they found them surrendered by the British soldiers on 21 February, 1946, when the rebelling Indian heavy personnel wanted to break the cur den, fighting took place between them and the British soldiers.

At this juncture, the civilian population Of Bombay offered favourable response to the mutiny. They supplied food and other requirements to the Indian navy personnel. The Communist Party of India in Bombay gave a clarion call of general strike. Congress socialist leaders like Arena Assar Ali and Asyut Palwardhan supported it with utmost vigor.

However surprisingly, the Congress and the Muslim League did not support it. The leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Jinnah and several others persuaded the mutineers to surrender when they headed the guidance of these leaders. However, the mill workers fully supported the cause of R.I.N. mutiny and a street-fighting took place between them and the police. By the repeated appeal of Patel and Jinnah, the mutineers finally surrendered on 23 February 1946.

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With their surrender, the R.I.N. mutiny came to an end. It failed largely due to the desire of the British Government and some Indian leaders who immediately wanted to quell it. The net result was this that the British Government now took precaution not to flare up mutiny against His Majesty’s Government.

The wide support to this mutiny by the public in Bombay clearly showed that a sense of hatred had developed fully in the mind of Indians towards the British rule. When one thinks about the R.I.N. ratings, one remembers the words of the Naval Central Strike Committee – “Our strike has been a historic event in the life of our nation. For the first time the blood of men in the services and in the streets flowed together in a common cause.”

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