Contributed by Aniruddha Rakshit and B.R. Panda
The Quit India Movement or ‘Bharat Chodo Andolan’ was a water-shed in the freedom struggle of India, which was led by Mahatma Gandhi, who inspired all the people across India to come together against British imperialism. The British Governor-General of India, Lord Linlithgow, involved India into World War II, in 1939 and proposed to induct the Indian soldiers to fight for the British. The Cripps mission was sent to ask for cooperation from the Indian national leaders. The two sides failed to reach an accord as the demand for immediate transfer of power for total self rule was not met with. Talks between Cripps and Indian national leaders having failed, Mahatma Gandhi called for Quit India Movement. It started on August 8, 1942 from Mumbai’s Gowalia Tank Maidan which has since come to be known as the August Kranti Maidan. Gandhi gave the clarion call ‘do or die’ to finally make the British to ‘quit’. Although the protest began peacefully, the houses of many of the freedom fighters and the offices of the Congress party were raided. Many of the leaders of the Congress party including Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and others along with Mahatma Gandhi were imprisoned on the charges of sedition. With the leaders in jail, Aruna Asaf Ali presided over the Congress session at the Gowalia Tank Maidan where a large crowd had gathered to hoist the national flag.