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Political Mobilization in the Localities: The 1942 Quit India Movement in Midnapur

  • Bidyut Chakrabarty (a1)


Following the adoption of 8 August resolution at Gowalia tank in Bombay, Indian masses rose to revolt, which became famous as the Quit India movement. It was a call for freedom. ‘Nothing less than freedom’, to quote Gandhi. Unlike the 1920–21 Non-cooperation and 1930–32 Civil Disobedience movements which were basically peaceful campaigns against the British rule in India, the Quit India movement was the ultimatum to the British for final withdrawal, a Gandhi-led un-Gandhian way of struggle since the Mahatma exhorted the people to take up arms in self-defence, and resort to armed resistance against a stronger and well-equipped aggressor.



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1 Gandhi, , Collected Works, vol. 76, p. 384.

2 Harijan, 15.3.1942, and 29.3.1942.

3 Hutchins, F. G., Spontaneous Revolution: The Quit India Movement (Manohar Book Service, Delhi, 1971).

4 Omvedt, Gail, ‘The Satara Prati Sarkar’ in Pandey, G. (ed.), The Indian Nation in 1942 (K. P. Bagchi and Co., Calcutta, 1988), pp. 223–61.

5 Chaudhuri, N. C., Thy Hand Great Anarch: India: 1921–1952 (Chatto and Windus, London, 1988).

6 ibid., p. 704.

8 Mitra, Chandan, ‘Popular Uprising in 1942: The Case of Balia’, in Pandey, (ed.), The Indian Nation in 1942, pp. 165–84.

9 Pandey, (ed.), The Indian Nation in 1942.

10 The Times, 31 July 1941.

11 Kamtekar, Indivar, ‘The End of the Colonial State, 1940–47’, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1988, p. 25.

12 ibid., p. 26.

13 Brown, Judith, Modern India (Oxford University Press (hereafter OUP), New Delhi, 1985), pp. 311–12.

14 India Office Records (hereafter IOR) R/3/2/25, Governor of Bengal to the Chief Secretary, Government of Bengal, 7.11.1940.

15 Indian Annual Register, July–December 1942 quoting Tottenham's Congress Responsibility for the Disturbances, February 1942.

16 Tottenham's, Congress Responsibility, quoted in Sarkar, Sumit, Modern India, 1985–1947 (Macmillan, Delhi, 1983), p. 390.

17 The Transfer of Power in India 1942–47, vol. II, ed. Mansergh, N. and Lumby, E. W. R. (HMSO, London, 1971), p. 953.

18 Telegram to Churchill, ibid., p. 853.

19 Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML hereafter), AICC papers, 231/42, Andhra Pradesh Congress committee Circular 29/7/1942.

20 See the Appendix.

21 National Archives of India (hereafter NAI) Delhi, Home-Poll, 3/52/1943(1), quoted in Sarkar, Modern India, p. 396; see also the Appendix.

22 NAI, Home-Poll, 3/52/1943(1), in ibid.

24 IOR, R/3/3/28 Bihar Chief Secretary's Telegram to the Secretary of State, London, 12/8/1942.

25 Toye, Hugh, Subhas Chandra Bose: The Springing Tiger (Cassell, London, 1959).

26 Brown, , Modern India, p. 316.

27 The Transfer of Power, 1942–47, vol. IV (HMSO, London, 1973), p. 334.

28 Nandy, Ashis, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism (OUP, New Delhi, 1988), pp. XIV, 1011.

29 Brown, , Modern India, p. 317.

30 West Bengal State Archives, Calcutta, Home-Poll, 71/42, District Officer's Chronicals; Sarkar, Modern India, p. 394.

31 The Transfer of Power, vol. II, pp. 669, 682–3.

32 There were four major marches at taluka centres in Satara (between 24 August and 10 September) at Karad (4000), Targaon (8000), Wadiy (700) and Islampur (6000). In Shirala taluka, 32 patils resigned from their posts. The Reserved forest in Shirala was declared open to the public.

33 Congress Youth Squads conducted these attacks. In Kundal, a bank was robbed and in Shirala, grain from government stores was distributed to the public (1941–42 had been a year of famine and in 1942 there was a price inflation).

34 See, for details, Omvedt, ‘The Satara Prati Sarkar’, in Pandey, The Indian Nation in 1942, and Rodrigues, Livi, ‘Rural Protest and Politics: A Study of Peasant Movement in Maharashtra’, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of London, 1984, pp. 400–19.

35 Sanyal, Hitesranjan, ‘Congress Movement in the Villages of Eastern Midnapore, 1921–31’, in Thorner, Alice et al. , Asia Du Sud, Traditions et Changements (Paris, 1979);Sanyal, Hitersranjan, ‘Nationalist Movement in South West Bengal’, in Chaturanga (Bengali) Calcutta, Baisakh-Assar, 1384.

36 Sanyal, , ‘Congress Movement in the Villages’, p. 172.

40 ibid., p. 173.

41 ibid., p. 174.

42 Chatterjee, Partha, ‘Some Considerations on the Making of the 1928 Bengal Tenancy (Amendment) Act’, Occasional Paper, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, 1980, pp. 40–1.

43 Sanyal, , ‘Congress Movement in the Villages’, p. 177.

44 IORL/PJ/12/47 Fortnightly Report, Second half of March, 1933.

45 IOR, L/PJ/12/144, Chief Secretary, Government of Bengal, Report for the second half of April 1939.

46 Dasgupta, S., ‘Local Politics in Bengal: Midnapore, 1921–32’, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of London, 1980.

47 West Bengal State Archives, Calcutta, Home-Poll 71/42, p. 16.

49 Chakrabarty, B., ‘Virangahas and the Quit India Movement’, The Statesman, 22 January 1989.

50 West Bengal State Archives, Calcutta Home-Poll 71/42, pp. 1617.

52 IOR, R/3/2, District Magistrate, Midnapur to the Chief Secretary, Government of Bengal, 3/12/43.

Political Mobilization in the Localities: The 1942 Quit India Movement in Midnapur

  • Bidyut Chakrabarty (a1)


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