Role of Bihar in Quit India Movement
Inspired by the Gandhi’s slogan “Quit India” and “DO or DIE”, the congress party started its biggest civil uprising on 8th August 1942. Earlier on march 1942, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared that India would get the status of imperialist Swaraj after the end of world war. For this purpose, Stafford Cripps visited India to prepare draft related to this on 22March 1942. His proposal proved fruitless for Indian nationalists. On the other side, there was economic depression due to second world war. Japnese Army reached near India’s frontiers. As a result Gandhi started Quit India in 1942.
During Quit India Movement Bihar displayed a bravery with great determination. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the pioneer among congress leaders from Bihar and under his leadership draft was prepared for Quit India Movement.
Bihar being hot bed of agitation, the government kept a hawk’s eye on the province and took some precautionary measures. Accordingly the Bihar Provincial Committee and the Bihar Congress socialist party were declared illegal. Rajendra Parsad and other prominent Bihar leaders were arrested. The movement was led by other congress leaders and students. As a protest against the arrest, the students of Patna took out procession as well as complete hartal. Soon the agitation spread in other parts of Bihar.
On 11 August when a mob of Patna was attempting to hoist the National flag on the main building of the old Secretariat, it was fired upon in which seven were killed and 24 were injured. The government tried to contain the damage caused by the incident by banning a couple of newspaper.
The situation took a violent turn after this firing. Soon the urban movement by the students and workers spread to the countryside, where large crowds of peasants attacked all the symbols of British authority for example revenue building, railway bridges, post offices and so on. The British administration collapsed in many district of Bihar.
The agrarian dimension of the movement was multi-class in character. Bihar which was storm center of the rebellion saw strong participation of the peasantry as well as tribal people. Parallel government were setup in the name of congress in liberated localities such as Sultanganj, Madhepura and other places.
The movement however, retained its tempo only for a couple of months and it slowed down after September. It was primarily because of the absence of the front ranking leaders and also because of the fact that the congress did not circulate any clear cut programme of action to be adopted after the first phase of action was over that the people could not maintain the tempo.
As a result revolutionary nationalist took over the reign of the movement and underground activities began. Siaram Singh organized a terrorist party known as ‘Siaram Dal’, Sri Govind Singh formed a guerilla band and most importantly Jai Prakash Narayan organized the ‘All India Azad Dasta’. Intense government repression drove discontent underground. Many Patriots of Bihar flee to Nepal Tarai. They received sympathy and assistance from local people. They collected arms ammunition, spears and certain other weapons. In Nepal, the Bihari heroes like Jai Prakash Narain, Suraj Narayan Singh, Ram Manohar Lohia etc organized ‘Bihar State Office’ of Azad Dasta was constituted.
There were two groups to carryout these works. One were invited to carry out covertly and the other to lead the violent struggle as a part of the mass movement.
With the inspiration from Nepal’s Azad Dasta, this type of organization began to operate in Purnea and Bhagalpur. In the last of 1943, Azad Dasta was active but later with the support of Nepal government, Jai Prakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia and other revolutionaries were arrested by the British government and the attempt later turned inactive. Jai Prakash Narayan remained active in this type of active covertly. He tried to contact with Subhash Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind sarkar but was failed.
Women also actively participated at mass level in this movement. A procession was carried under Shanti Devi in Chhapra. Revolutionary governments were formed at some places like Palamu, Hazaribagh, Muzaffarpur etc. Newspaper like ‘Azad Hindustan’ and ‘Munger News’ published from Munger to spread the voice of the movement.
In the series of Quit India Movement, more than 15000 people were imprisoned in Bihar. 134 people were killed and 362 injured. The government at last forced the government to change its attitude. The movement was completely successful and this proved to be the last mass movement in the course of India’s freedom of struggle.
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