The failure of the Cripps Mission left no meeting ground between the
Congress and the British government. The Congress now decided to take
active steps to compel the British to accept the Indian demand for
independence. The All India Congress Committee met at Bombay on August
8, 1942, and passed the famous ‘Quit India’ resolution, proposing to start
non-violent mass struggle to achieve this aim. On the night of this day,
Gandhi gave his call of ‘Do or Die’. But before the Congress could start its
non-violent movement, the government rounded up all the important leaders,
including Gandhi in the morning of August 9. This unwise act of the
government unleashed an unprecedented and country-wide wave of mass
fury. Left leaderless and without any organisation, the people reacted in any
manner they could.
The first phase (August 9 to 15), which was massive and violent but quickly
suppressed, was predominantly urban in nature, and included hartals, strikes
and clashes with the police and army in most cities.
The second phase (August 15 to September 30) saw the focus being
shifted to the countryside, with militant students fanning out from urban
centres to rural areas in order to lead peasant rebellions and to destroy
communications on a large scale.
The third phase (October to December), which was the least formidable
phase, was characterised by terrorists activity by educated youth directed
against communications and police and army installations. But such
activities, however, no longer posed a serious threat to the British rule or its
The British, though succeeded in suppressing the revolt, realised the
advantages of trying for a negotiated settlement rather than risk another
confrontation as massive and violent as this revolt.
The imprisonment of the Congress leaders proved beneficial of them in
an indirect way. For it helped them to avoid taking a clear public stand on the
Japanese war issue, something which otherwise would have been very
embarrassing for a few months in 1944 when S.C. Bose’s INA appeared on
the borders of Assam at a time when on the world scale the Allies were