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3. British India (1907-1947)

 

Crisis Phase (January 1, 1907-May 25, 1909): Indian nationalists rebelled against the British government in the Bengal province beginning in 1907. Two British citizens were killed in a terrorist bombing in Muzaffarpur on April 30, 1908, and Khudi Ram Bose was executed for his involvement in the killings. The British parliament approved the India Councils Act on May 25, 1909, which introduced a limited degree of self-government in the colony.

Post-Crisis Phase (May 26, 1909-January 31, 1919): Lord Hardinge, the British Viceroy of India, was injured in a terrorist bombing in Delhi on December 23, 1912.

Crisis Phase (February 1, 1919-February 4, 1924): Mohandas Gandhi, a Hindu social and religious reformer, called on the Indian people to meet British repression with passive resistance in February 1919. Indian nationalists rioted in Delhi beginning on March 30, 1919. Indian nationalists rioted in Amritsar in the Punjab province on April 10, 1919, resulting in the deaths of five British citizens. British troops commanded by General Reginald Dyer fired on demonstrators in Amritsar on April 13, 1919, resulting in the deaths of 379 civilians. The government declared martial law in the Punjab province on April 15, 1919. Mohandas Gandhi suspended the civil disobedience campaign on April 18, 1919. The British government lifted martial law in the Punjab province on June 9, 1919. Muslim nationalists rebelled against the British government in the Madras province beginning in October 1921. Government troops and police killed 53 demonstrators in Bombay in November 1921. Mohandas Gandhi resumed the civil disobedience campaign on December 24, 1921. Muslim nationalists killed 22 government policemen in Chauri Chaura in Uttar Pradesh Province on February 4-5, 1922. Government troops suppressed the Muslim rebellion in the Madras province in February 1922. Some 2,339 Muslims and 43 government soldiers were killed during the rebellion. Mohandas Gandhi was arrested and imprisoned on March 10, 1922. Motilal Nehru and C. R. Dass established the Swaraj Party (SP) within the INC in 1922. One individual was killed in political violence in Calcutta in January 1924. Mohandas Gandhi was released from prison on February 4, 1924. Some 12,000 individuals were killed during the crisis.

Post-Crisis Phase (February 5, 1924-December 31, 1929): Several revolutionaries established the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) in Kanpur in October 1924. Ten members of the HRA bombed a train near Lucknow on August 9, 1925, resulting in the executions of four members of the HRA. Members of the HRA led by Chandrashekhar Azad established the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) in Delhi on September 9-10, 1928. Members of the HSRA assassinated a police official in Lahore on December 17, 1928, and bombed the Central Legislative Assembly on April 8, 1929.

Crisis Phase (January 1, 1930-August 15, 1947): Indian nationalists led by Jawaharlal Nehru resumed the civil disobedience campaign against the British colonial government on January 1, 1930. Beginning on March 12, 1930, Mohandas Gandhi marched from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi to protest against the state monopoly on salt.  Indian revolutionaries led by Surya Sen took control of Chittagong on April 18, 1930.  Government troops and Indian revolutionaries clashed in Chittagong on April 22, 1930, resulting in the deaths of 80 government troops and 12 revolutionaries.  Jawaharlal Nehru was arrested by government police on April 15, 1930, and Mohandas Gandhi was arrested on May 4, 1930. Mohandas Gandhi was released from prison on January 25, 1931, and he agreed to end the civil disobedience campaign on March 4, 1931.  Three members of the HSRA were executed on March 23-24, 1931.  Mohandas Gandhi and representatives of the INC held two rounds of negotiations with representatives of the British government in London between September 7, 1931 and December 25, 1932.  The British government banned the Congress Party (CP) on January 4, 1932. Surya Sen was captured on February 16, 1933, and he was executed on January 12, 1934.  The British parliament approved the Government of India Act on August 2, 1935, which provided limited self-government for India. Provincial elections were held in July 1937.  Some 11,000 individuals were killed in political violence between 1936 and 1938. Udham Singh assassinated Sir Michael O’Dwyer, former governor of Punjab province, on March 13, 1940.  Udham Singh was executed on July 31, 1940.  President Franklin Roosevelt of the US appointed Colonel Louis Johnson as his personal representative to India on March 11, 1942, and Colonel Louis Johnson facilitated negotiations between British and Indian nationalists between April 3 and May 16, 1942.   The All-India Congress Committee (AICC) initiated the Quit India Movement on August 7-8, 1942, which called on Britain to “Quit India” and allow Indians to negotiate with the Japanese. Mohandas Gandhi and other Indian nationalists were arrested by government police on August 9, 1942. Government police fired on demonstrators in Bombay on August 9-10, 1942, resulting in the deaths of 21 individuals. Government police and demonstrators clashed in Bengal province on August 10-17, 1942, resulting in the deaths of 39 individuals. Government troops fired on demonstrators in Utar Pradesh province on August 12, 1942, resulting in the deaths of some 200 individuals. Government police fired on demonstrators in Purnea in Bihar province on August 13, 1942, resulting in the deaths of eight individuals. Some 3,000 individuals were killed in political violence between August 9 and October 31, 1942, including 1,761 individuals in Bihar Province, 603 individuals in Uttar Pradesh Province, and 345 individuals in the Central Provinces. President Roosevelt appointed William Phillips as his personal representative to India, and William Phillips facilitated negotiations between British and Indian nationalists between January 8 and May 23, 1943. Mohandas Gandhi was release from prison on May 5, 1944. Twenty-two individuals were killed in political violence in Bombay on January 23-25, 1946. Forty-five individuals were killed in political violence in Calcutta and other cities on February 11-15, 1946. Members of the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) mutinied in Bombay on February 19-25, 1946, resulting in the deaths of one British soldier, 233 demonstrators, and nine Indian naval personnel. The British government offered full independence to India on March 14, 1946. British and Indian nationalist representatives held negotiations between March and June 1946. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, a leader of the Muslim League (ML), insisted on a separate Muslim state of Pakistan during these negotiations. Elections to the Constituent Assembly were held in July 1946, and the CP won 211 out of 296 seats. The ML won 73 seats in the Constituent Assembly. Indian nationalists rioted in Ahmadabad on July 1-2, 1946, resulting in the deaths of 39 individuals. Some 4,000 individuals were killed in ethnic/religious violence in Calcutta on August 16-22, 1946, and some 470 individuals were killed in ethnic/religious violence in Bombay, Calcutta, and other cities in September 1946. Jawaharlal Nehru was sworn in as prime minister of an interim government on September 2, 1946. Some 70 individuals were killed in political violence in Calcutta on October 26-31, 1946. Some 5,000 individuals were killed in political violence in the Calcutta area between July 1 and October 31, 1946. Some 280 individuals were killed in Bihar province on October 30-November 4, 1946, and some 20,000 individuals fled as refugees from Bihar province on November 9-10, 1946. Some 250 individuals were killed in the Hindu United Provinces on November 9, 1946. The Constituent Assembly convened in New Delhi on December 9, 1946, and Rajendra Prasad was elected president of the assembly on December 11, 1946. ML delegates boycotted the assembly. Some 21 individuals were killed in political violence in Bombay on January 5-11, 1947. Viscount Mountbatten was appointed as Viceroy of India on February 20, 1947. Some 110 individuals were killed in Calcutta on March 28-April 1, 1947. Some 50 individuals were killed in political violence in Bombay on March 29-31, 1947. India and Pakistan formally achieved their independence from Britain on August 15, 1947. Some 46,000 individuals were killed, and some 100,000 individuals were displaced during the crisis.

[Sources: Bercovitch and Jackson, 1997, 48-50; Butterworth, 1976, 30-32; Chaudhry 1980; Chopra 1979; Clodfelter, 1992, 625-626, 1087; Dutt 1984; Edwardes 1963; Facts on File, January 20-26, 1946, February 10-16, 1946, February 17-23, 1946, February 24-March 2, 1946, June 30-July 6, 1946, August 11-17, 1946, August 18-24, 1946, September 1-7, 1946, September 8-14, 1946, September 22-28, 1946, October 20-26, 1946, October 27-November 2, 1946, November 3-9, 1946, November 10-16, 1946, December 8-14, 1946, January 1-11, 1947, February 16-22, 1947, March 30-April 5, 1947, August 10-16, 1947; Guha 1982; Hodson 1969; James 1997; Jauhri 1970; Jeffrey, 1981, 71-106; Jessup, 1998, 301-307; Langer, 1972, 900-904, 1101-1104, 1311-1312; Mahajan 1976; Moon 1989; Panigrahi 1984.]

 

Selected Bibliography

Chopra, P. N. 1979. India’s Major Non-Violent Movements, 1919-1934. Vision Books.

Edwardes, Michael. 1963. The Last Years of British India. London: Cassell.

Guha, Arun Chandra. 1982. India’s Struggle Quarter of a Century (1921-1946). Government of India, Ministry of Information
and Broadcasting-Publications Division.

Hodson, H. V. 1969. The Great Divide: Britain-India-Pakistan. London: Hutchinson.

James, Lawrence. 1997. Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Jauhri, R. C. 1970. American Diplomacy and Independence for India. Bombay: Vora & Company, Publishers, Ltd.

Mahajan, Vidya Dhar. 1976. The Nationalist Movement in India. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, Ltd.

Moon, Penderel. 1989. The British Conquest and Dominion of India. Duckworth.

Panigrahi, D. N. 1984. Quit India and the Struggle for Freedom. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, Ltd.