The Quit India Campaign

by Ben Alford

In August 1942, during the Second World War, Gandhi announced the ‘Quit India1 Campaign. He said:

I want freedom immediately, this very night, before dawn, if it can be had. Congress must win freedom or be wiped out in the effort. We shall either free India or die in the
attempt.

• Gandhi demanded immediate independence and threatened mass non-violent action if his demands were not met. He demanded that the British leave India immediately, although the armed forces fighting the Japanese could stay.

• Demonstrations began in many Indian cities, peacefully at first but often turning violent. Police stations, government offices, railways and telephone lines were all attacked. Supplies for the army fighting against the Japanese were held up.

• The disturbances that resulted were only put down by 30,000 troops and resulted in more than 1,000 deaths.

• Many Congress leaders were arrested, including Gandhi and most were held until 1944.

• Congress itself was declared illegal and its funds were seized. For the next two years Congress virtually ceased to exist.

• Nehru was arrested again and imprisoned until 1945. He was released after the Labour Party won the July 1945 general election and immediately announced plans for dominion status.

 

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