BJP and Quit India – III: How Quit India panned out

Further Extracts from the book: GANDHI: HIS LIFE AND THOUGHT authored by Acharya Kriplani and published by Publications Divisions, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, GoI (Published in Aug, 1970):

The popular revolt assumed serious proportions. In Jamshedpur thousands of workers, drawn from all over India, kept away from work for a fortnight as a protest against the arrest of the leaders.  The students, naturally, were in the vanguard; eighty per cent of the university students walked out. The Banaras Hindu University students closed the campus gates to police officials and mobilised the University training corps against any attempt by the authorities to enter the University.

The authorities let loose cruel repression. In Delhi, the police fired on 47 separate occasions on August 11 and 12. In U.P. there were 29 firings between August 9 and 21, resulting in the death of 76 persons and severe injury to 114. In the Central Provinces the police killed 64, wounded 102 and arrested 11,088 m the first three weeks. In Mysore State about 600 persons were killed by police firing during the first few days of the movement. In Patiala,

eight students were killed while trying to hoist the national flag over a public building. Over 100 were shot in a Mysore procession. In Calcutta there were numerous firings, resulting in many deaths. The same was the case in all big cities. In Midnapore (Bengal) and in some parts of Maharashtra, parallel Governments were set up which functioned effectively for a short time.

The casualties from August 9 to November 30, 1942 were, according to the Secretary of State for India, 1,008 killed, and 3,275 seriously injured. The popular estimate was very much higher. The number of people imprisoned was over one hundred thousand. The movement had taken a turn not contemplated by Gandhiji and the Congress leaders. Infuriated by the wholesale arrests of their leaders and the cruel repression let loose by the authorities, people went mad and in several places destroyed public property like bridges, police stations, etc., and removed even rail tracks, cut off telegraph wires and vented their anger in variousother acts of violence. Had the people had the guidance of the leaders, such wanton destruction would not have taken place. Even if Gandhiji alone were out, he would have undertaken a fast if nothing else had prevailed. It would have cooled down people’s ardour for destruction and the movement would have gone on generally on right lines. A reign of terror was let loose in Midnapore district where two tehsils had completely ousted British administration. Thirty thousand people in this and the 24-Parganas district, including several hundred nationalists, who fleeing before British arms, had taken refuge on a low-lying island in the vicinity, were struck by a tidal wave raised by a cyclone and perished. Even after this, the District Magistrate of Midnapore in a report to the Government recommended that in view of the political misdeeds of the people, “not only should the Government withhold relief but it should not permit any non-official organisation to conduct relief in the affected area for one month”.

 Other parts of this series:

1. BJP and Quit India – Part I: Congress’s Spokes in Gandhiji’s Wheels  – Click here to read.

2. BJP and Quit India – Part II: Strong Opposition to Quit India from Congress Leaders – Click here to read.

3. BJP and Quit India – Part IV: Gandhiji’s stand on Violence during Quit India (To be Published Shortly)


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