The Quit India Movement: The Beginning of The End Of 200 Years of British Rule in India
Mahatma Gandhi during his speech at Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8, 1942 (Photo Credits: Youtube Grab)

The Quit India Movement was launched by Mahatma Gandhi on August 8, 1942 at the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. The movement was started during World War II after the failure of the Cripps Mission, formed to persuade Indian leadership for their support to Britain in the war. The movement demanded a complete end to the 200-year-long British rule in the country.  In his speech from Mumbai’s Gowalia Maidan, Mahatma Gandhi urged people to ‘Do or Die’, which eventually became slogan of the movement.

Soon after Gandhi delivered speech from the Gowalia Tank Maidan, almost the entire leadership of the Indian National Congress was imprisoned. The arrest of Mahatma Gandhi and other prominent leaders of the Congress led to the country-wide demonstrations. The British aggressively crushed the movement by prohibiting public meetings under rule 56 of the Defence of Indian Rules. The Working Committee, the All India Congress Committee and the four provincial Congress Committees were declared unlawful associations under the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1908.

The movement didn’t gain the support of the princely states, British Army, Indian Civil Service, Viceroy’s Council and the All India Muslim League. Many Indian businessmen also did not support the movement. And many students, instead of supporting the Quit India Movement, showed inclination towards Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, which was supporting the Axis Powers in the war.

Though the movement was crushed by the British government, it created a sense of unity among the Indian masses. Most of the demonstrations were suppressed by 1944, but upon his release in the same year, Gandhi continued his resistance and sat on a 21-day fast. By the end of World War II, Britain lost its balance of power and the country could no longer ignore India’s demand for independence. In the war, Japan inflicted heavy casualities on the British Army in the North East Asia, breaking the notion in the minds of Indians that the British were invincible. Britain’s loss instilled a sense of confidence, giving Indians the morale to overthrow foreign rule from the country.