Quit India Movement: The Spark Which Ignited the Idea of Freedom Within a Million Hearts

Publish On: 01 Aug, 2019 03:45 PM | Updated   |   Abhishek Mishra  
Quit India Movement

"One individual may die; but that idea will, after his death, incarnate itself in a thousand lives. - Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose"



ndia, the land of mystery and diversity, is a country replete with traditions and ethnicities. It comes as no surprise then that it has one of the most culturally varied history, with a culmination of several landmark events over the course of time. Some of them history-altering, others ushering in a whole new era. But the one feat that changed our nation forever is undoubtedly our heart-wrenching freedom struggle. Coloured by the blood of our valiant heroes and glorified by their invaluable sacrifices, India’s freedom movement finds a place in the golden pages of history and is one of most recognized demonstrations of steadfastprotest on a global scale.

East India Company’s emblem after its establishment in 1808

Since the East India Company’s establishment in the late half of the 19th Century, there have been countless assaults to overthrow the British rule, but one such protest which dwarfed every other movement and was single-handedly responsible for our freedom, is undoubtedly the Quit India Movement. At the time of nationwide protests, the section of society responsible for raising their voices was vaguely divided into two categories of people: one who were non-violent in their ways of dissent and the others who believed fire could be fought with fire. Irrespective of the diverse ways of their approach, their goal was common; free India from the British rule. And it was this goal, which unified all these people under the umbrella of the Quit India Movement.

The public response during the Quit India Movement was overwhelming

However, the initial days of the movement weren’t so smooth. For one, it wasn’t until 5 years later after the movement began, that the British finally left. Secondly, as soon as the movement started gaining momentum, the British put the entire Congress leadership behind bars, thereby effectively quashing the movement. And lastly, with Congress’ loss of control over dominion, a new power was rising up from the ranks: the Muslim league.

In the elections of 1936-37, the Congress formed government in 8 of the 11 provinces. Despite the communal divide, the Congress government had secured the mandate of all Indians. And then in 1939, the British dragged India into the 2nd World War, without any solid assurances of freedom. Thus provoked, Congress ministers resigned on a mass scale. The fall of Congress ministries paved way for its opponents, notably the Muslim League, to try and build a secular country. By 1940, the Muslim League was emboldened enough to issue Pakistan Resolution in its Lahore session.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League

The failure of Cripps’ mission and the dwindling dream of India getting her independence any sooner, kick started the preparations for Quit India Movement. It is widely believed that the British government was already aware of the Congress’ intention to launch a nationwide Satyagraha movement. Therefore, within days of Gandhi’s clarion call of ‘Do or Die’, the entire Congress leadership had been incarcerated. The public, then leaderless, indulged into looting and plundering British establishments thereby creating a nationwide chaos which was later subdued by the British government.

The end of the 2nd World War saw another freedom fighter come into prominence; Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Leader of INA, Bose’s cry for blood in return for freedom was met with an uproaring response. In no time, stories of supreme sacrifice of Subhash Chandra Bose and his INA patriots aroused feelings of fury and anger against British colonialists. What added fuel to the fire, was the heavily scrutinized public trials of the INA soldiers. Subhash Chandra Bose had managed to send a loud and clear message to the British government; their time here was done.

Nehru and Jinnah with Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1947

And with this realization, the British conceded defeat and withdrew their command over the Indian subcontinent. In 1947, the British left India, having transferred power to both the Congress in India and the Muslim League in Pakistan. Gandhi’s non-violent protest and Subhash Chandra Bose’s valour and sacrifice finally gave the Indians what they truly deserved. Their unwavering determination and gritty struggle made us what we are today. A nation of immense possibilities, with a wide array of diverse religions and countless faiths. For freedom is nothing else, but a chance to be better. A chance to write our own destinies. A chance, to begin again.