On 26th April, 1942 Gandhiji wrote an essay on ‘Quit India’ in the ‘Harijan Patrika’. On 14th July, 1942 A.D. the ‘Congress Working Committee’ in the ‘Wardha Session’ accepted Gandhiji’s proposals. Finally they adopted it formally on the 8th August 1942 A.D. and planned to start up the movement from the morning of 9th August. In front of the A.I.C.C.C. Gandhiji referred to this movement “This is an open rebellion. In this struggle secrecy is a sin”. He gave the cry of “Do or Die”, for the Nation. To the agitators, the holy words were “Do or Die”. So they daringly went for strikes, burning down offices, courts, destroying railway lines, telegraph and telephones, seizing police stations, post offices, registry offices, rail stations etc. this movement developed in this way of non-violence.
The main centers of the Quit India movement were Satara of Maharashtra, Tamluk, Contai of Midnapore, Balurghat of West Dinajpur, Balia, Azamgarh of U.P., Naogaon of Assam. Among the notable leaders were Srinath Lal, Nana Patil of Satara, Chaitu Pandey of Balia, Matangini Hazra, Sushil Dhara of Tamluk, Punjab’s Fukonani, Assam’s Kanaklata Badua. At Midnapore, Bengal, Quit India Movement took form of a mass uprising. The peasant movement organised by Birendranath Shasmal (‘Desh Pran”) enable the rapid spread of the Quit India Movement. It had deep impacts at Dinajpur, Balurghat, Midnapore, Contai, Tamluk, Patashpur, Bhagwanpur, Sutahata, Nandigram, Mahishadal etc. and Birbhum, 24 Parganas etc. on 29th September 1942, under the leadership of 72 year old Matangini Hazra and Ramchandra Bera a mass of 20,000 seized the court and police station. When police opened fire on this procession many along with Matangini Hazra died. After Matangini the leadership was taken by Ajay Mukherjee, Sushil Dhara, and Satish Samanta and they captured Lalbari. On 17th December 1942 A.D. Ajoy Mukherjee formed the “Tamluk Provisional National Government”. They formed an armed force called ‘Bidyut Bahaini’ and women organization ‘Bhagini Sena’.
The Quit India Movement proved the power of the masses.
According to Sumit Sarkar, in spite of all oppressions the peasants came forth with great force. Nehru, said, “It was essentially spontaneous mass upheaval”.
This movement finalized the Independence of India and transfer of power.
According to Dr. Arun Bhuiya, this movement laid the foundation for the freedom by raising the mass consciousness and unity.
Features of the Quit India Movement (1942): The unique nature of the movement of 1942 were as:
1. The Gandhian movement in 1942 was totally changed its character of non-violence Satyagraha, because Gandhiji’s mantra during the Quit India movement was “Do or Die”. We shall either free India or die in the attempt; we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery”.
2. The movement of 1942 followed both violence and non-violence methods.
3. The most important feature of Quit India Movement was the absence of religious communal riot during the movement of 1942.
4. During the movement famous congress leaders were imprisoned. So the Congress Socialist Party’s leaders like Ram Manohar Lohia, Achyuta Patwardhan, S.M. Joshi, Ramananda Mishra, Jayprakash Narayan and officer bearer of the ‘Congress Working Committee’ including Sucheta Kripalani and Sadiq Ali decided to carry forward the Quit India movement from underground.
5. The student left their schools and colleges to join the movement. The student of Banaras Hindu University, Allahabad University, Patna University, Annamalai University etc. Besides these workers, peasants etc. transformed it into “a spontaneous mass upheaval”.
6. Whatever may have been the character of the movement, it proved to be a nemesis for British. They resorted to 538 rounds of fire and the army used machine guns on occasions, for which 7000 people were killed. Dr. Sumit Sarkar said 91,836 people were arrested by the end of 1943.
7. The important feature of the movement was that the Communist Party of India (CPI) did not join the movement of 1942. Russia was attacked by Nazi Germany, so the communist supported British war against Germany and the ‘Imperialist War’ changed into ‘Peoples War’ to them. The negative role of the CPI is described in the novel “Jagari” of Satinath Bhaduri. Other political parties however adopted different attitude towards the movement.