*Dr. Srinivas Vaddanam
Quit India Movement or the August Movement was launched
by Mahatma Gandhi on August 8, 1942 to gain independence from British
rule. Gandhiji gave call to the British to withdraw from India.
He decided to launch a mass civil disobedience movement 'Do or Die' call
to force the British to leave India.
The Cripps Mission and its failure also played an
important role in Gandhi's call for the Quit India Movement. The British
government on 22nd March 1942, sent Sir Stafford Cripps to
negotiate terms with the Indian political parties and secure their
support in Britain's war efforts. A Draft Declaration included terms
like establishment of Dominion, establishment of a Constituent Assembly
and right of the Provinces to make separate constitutions. These would
be granted after the cessation of the Second World War. According to the
Congress, this Declaration only offered India a promise that was to be
fulfilled in the future. Commenting on this Gandhi said; "It is a
postdated cheque on a crashing bank." After the rejection of the Cripps
proposals the Indian National Congress launched the Quit India Movement.
The Quit India Movement in Andhra
Quit India Movement spread to all the states and
provinces across the country. In Andhra the Provincial Congress
Committee had issued a circular popularly known as the ‘Kurnool
Circular’ as the police ceased the copy when they ride ‘Kurnool Congress
Office. This was drafted by Kala Venkat Rao, on 29th July
1942 and was sent for the approval of the Congress Working Committee
through Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramaiah, a member of the working committee.
The ‘Kurnool Circular’ envisaged a programme of defying
prohibitory orders, lawyers to give up practice, students to leave
colleges, picketing salt and foreign trade and industry, cutting of
communications, cutting of toddy yielding trees, travelling without
tickets, pulling chains to stop trains and blow up bridges to disrupt
communications and retard the movement of Army personnel: the cutting of
telegraph and telephone wires, non-payment of taxes excepting municipal
taxes, and hoisting of national flags on all Government buildings as a
sign of independence. ‘Kurnool Circular’ intended to paralyze all means
of communications and machinery of administration. Some of the prominent
leaders who were taken as detenus during this period in Andhra were
Pattabhi Sitaramaiah, A.Kaleshwer Rao, T.Prakasham, Neelam Sanjeeva
Reddy, Maganti Bapineedu and several others.
On the 12th August 1942, the town of Tenali
observed a complete Hartal as a protest against the arrest of the
Congress leaders. The crowd tried to set fire to the Railway Station.
They also destroyed the books, records and currency in the Booking
Office while the staff in-charge of the office fled. There upon, the
police opened fire and in this firing three people were killed, namely
Bhaskaruni Lakshminarayana, Majeti Subbarao and Sripathi Panditaradhyula
On 12th August 1942, a procession of 500
students marched to the Court of the Sub-Magistrate in Chirala and asked
him to close the court. After causing damage to the building the crowd
raided the offices of the Sub-Registrar and the sales tax officer and
then stoned the police station. They dispersed only after the arrival of
the police and the civic guards.
On 13th August, a crowd of 2,000, consisting
mostly of students, gathered in front of the Hindu College, Guntur. The
police opened fire as a result of which several were wounded and two
persons died instantaneously. On the night of 12th August
1942, an attempt was made to cut the telephone wires between Dowleswaram
and Rajahmundry by Bommakanti Venkata Subramanyam, Chekuri Veera
Raghava Swamy (Student), Chekuri Venkata Rayudu, G. Sathi Raju, K. Rama
Krishna Rao, T.V. Venkanna, V. Seetharaman and K.V. Seetharama Sastry of
Rajahmundry. All of them were arrested and were awarded eighteen months
rigorous Imprisonment each.
On 12th August 1942, telephone wires were cut by
organizers between Palacole, Lankalacoderu, Bhimavaram and Vendra. On
12th and 13th August they took out processions in the streets of Nellore
town and damaged electric lights on the streets and destroyed telephones
and signal equipment in the railway station. At Kavali the Head
Master’s room of the local Board High School was set on fire. In
Venkatagiri Raja College, Nellore, the Principle hoisted the national
flag. The struggle was at its height in August and the first half of
September with the mantra “Do or Die”, given to them by Gandhiji. They
continued the struggle till 1943.
The Quit India Movement in Telangana
The Quit India Movement had its repercussions in the
Hyderabad State. Swamy Ramanand Tirtha met Mahatma Gandhi at Bombay
session of the All India Congress Committee and obtained permission to
conduct the Quit India Movement in Hyderabad State. Not only State
Congress but various Praja Mandals in the State participated in the Quit
India Struggle. Swamy Ramanand Tirtha left Bombay via Sholapur for
Hyderabad and anticipating that he might be arrested, sent a letter to
Dr. Melkote envisaging the demands of the Hyderabad State Congress so
that it could be signed and sent to the Nizam. He was arrested as soon
as he got down at the Nampally station. Dr. G.S. Melkote duly signed the
letter on behalf of the State Congress the release of all political
prisoners. Some reactionary elements in Hyderabad tried to take
advantage of the slogan “Quit India” saying that the British withdrawal
from India would automatically mean the Independence of Hyderabad and
raised the slogan, “Azad Hyderabad”.
During the Quit India Satyagraha,in Hyderabad several
leaders like Pandit Narenderji, Harishchandra Heda, Gyankumari Heda,
Vimalabai Melkote, G.S. Melkote, Jethandra Rashtravadi, Padmaja Naidu,
Smt. and Sri Ramaswamy, B.Ramakrishna Rao, G. Ramachari, Gangadhar
Krishna, Ganpat Rao, Krishna Dube (Kothagudem Trade Union leader of
Singareni Collieries), L. Narayana, Rajeshwar Rao, Somyajulu, D.
Narasaiah, Komaragiri Narayana Rao, M.S. Rajalingam, Sridhar Rao
Kulkarni, Kodati Narayan Rao, Vande Mataram Ramchandra Rao, Prem Raj
Yadav and Mallayya Yadav, Kaloji Narayana Rao got arrested. Apart from
the Satyagrahis in the city several volunteers participated in the
Satyagraha movement from Osmanabad, Parbhani, Aurangabad, Nanded, Umri,
not only on behalf of the State Congress but also on behalf of the
Maharashtra Parishad and the Karnataka Conference. Govind das Shroff,
the Secretary of the Maharashtra Parishad was placed under detention in
Aurangabad. Padmaja Naidu was arrested for placing the Congress flag on
the Residency building.
Before the Quit India movement was launched in Hyderabad,
several nationalist leaders like Kasinath Rao Vaidya, Hassan
Thirmiji,Vinayak Rao Vidyalankar, Ravi Narayana Reddy, Fataullah Khan,
Janardhan Rao Desai, Hanumanth Rao, appealed to the Nizam to form a
Ministry consisting of duly elected ministers. Seeing the demand for the
restoration of civil liberties and Responsible Government growing day by
day, the Nizam’s Government engaged the services of Prof. Rushbrook
Williams, who was an employee of the B.B.C., on a honorarium of 200
pounds per annum to carry on propaganda on behalf of the Nizam’s
Government by writing articles in different newspapers and journals
saying that the people in the Indian States, particularly in Hyderabad
enjoyed political rights to the same extent as the people in the
neighboring Indian provinces. During the 1942 movement two Hyderabadis,
Abid Hasan Safrani and Prof Suresh Chandra joined the Indian National
Army (INA) of Subhash Chandra Bose.
*Author is in the Department of History, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar
Open University, Hyderabad.
Views expressed in the article area author’s personal.