‘The Quit India Movement was a spontaneous revolt of people against British rule’
The All India Congress Committee met at Bombay on 8 August 1942. It passed the famous resolution, ‘Quit India’, and proposed the starting of a non-violent mass struggle under Gandhi’s leadership to achieve this aim. But on the very next day, Gandhi and other eminent leaders of the Congress were arrested. The Congress was once again declared illegal.
The news of these arrests left the country aghast, and a spontaneous movement of protest arose everywhere, giving expression to the pent up anger of the people. Left Leaderless and without any organisation, the people reacted in any manner they could. All over the country there were hartals, strikes in factories, schools and colleges. The demonstrations were lathi-charged and fired upon. Angered by repeated firings and repression, in many places the people took to violence.
They attacked the symbols of British authority. What began as revolt of unarmed turned out to be a violent revolt due mainly to the miscalculation about the hold of the congress on the Indian masses. People indulged in arson, murder and sabotage.
The railways and the post and telegraph system came in for severe attack, disrupting communications. The government buildings became targets of attack. Students came out of colleges and schools. Peasants took the leading part in the revolt and so did the lower middle class. Industrial workers in many important centers declared strike but they were mostly of short duration.
In many places the rebels siege temporary control over many towns, cities, and villages. British authority disappeared in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. In some areas the revolutionaries set up ‘parallel governments’.
In general, the students, workers, and peasants provided the backbone of the revolt while the upper classes and the bureaucracy remained loyal to the Government.