Naval Mutiny, 1946
The Royal Indian Navy revolt started on 18 February 1946 in Bombay. The personell on HMIS Talwar protested against the poor quality of food and racial discrimination by British officers. The protest spread rapidly to the Castle and Fort barracks on shore, and to 22 ships in the Bombay harbor.
By the following evening, a naval central strike committee had been elected. The mutineers took out a procession in Bombay, holding aloft a portrait of Subhas Bose. Their ships also raised the flags of the Congress, Muslim League and Communist Party.
The demands advanced by the naval central strike committee combined service grievances with wider national concerns. The latter included the release of INA (Indian National Army) personnel and other political prisoners; withdrawal of Indian troops from Indonesia; and the acceptance of Indian officers only as superiors. Ratings in striking naval establishments outside Bombay echoed these themes.
The strike spread to other naval establishments around the country. At its height, 78 ships, 20 shore establishments, and 20,000 ratings were involved in the uprising. The revolt at various locations was coordinated by signal communication equipment on board HMIS Talwar.
The most significant feature of this short uprising was the massive outpouring of public support for the mutineers. The city of Bombay, especially the labouring classes, went on strike on 22 February in solidarity. The public transport network was brought to a halt, trains were burnt, roadblocks were erected and commercial establishments were shut down. An army battalion was inducted to control the situation. Three days later Bombay was quiet, but 228 civilians had died and 1,046 were injured. Meanwhile, following assurances of sympathetic treatment from Vallabhbhai Patel and M.A. Jinnah, the ratings in Bombay surrendered on 23 February.
The leaders realized that any mass uprising would inevitably carry the risk of not being amenable to centralized direction and control. Besides, now that independence and power were in sight, they were eager not to encourage indiscipline in the armed forces.
The revolt convinced the British that the sword arm of the Raj could no longer be relied upon to protect it.
C Rajgopalachari had been trying to convince the Congress to acknowledge the Muslim League demand for separation since 1942.
He released a formula to the press (1943) which could serve as a basis for a settlement between the 2 major parties. According to the formula both parties should declare independence for India and thereafter a plebiscite of all the inhabitants be held in N-West and N-East to decide whether they wanted to separate from India.
At this, Jinnah said that Gandhi should first concede that the two zones of Pakistan must be consist of 6 provinces of Sind, Baluchistan, NWFP, Punjab, Bengal and Assam. Jinnah refused to take personal responsibility for accepting or rejecting the C.R Formula and agreed to place it before Muslim League working committee. Jinnah, however, said that C.R Formula did not fully concede with the basic demands of Muslims in the Lahore Resolution. He personally did not like the formula and termed it “a parody and a negation of Lahore Resolution”.
Early in 1946, the Labour Government dispatched an all-party parliamentary delegation to India to meet Indian leaders and convince them of the British desire for an early settlement of the Indian constitutional issue. The negotiations were conducted on behalf of the Congress by Abul Kalam Azad who was assisted by Nehru and Patel.
It was the apparent contradiction in the League’s stand, which made Gandhi and his colleagues in the Congress uneasy about the “grouping of provinces”, which the League wanted to make compulsory and a stepping-stone to Pakistan. The controversy on this issue wrecked the Cabinet Mission Plan.
The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly of India took place in the Constitution Hall, New Delhi, on Monday, the 9th December 1946.
The Mountbatten Plan proposed the partition of India and the speedy transfer of responsibility, initially in the form of Dominion Status, to Indian Governments for the sections of a divided India.
Formally, the Plan did not lay down the partition of India, but provided machinery for the areas affected by the Pakistan demand to choose, either through their Legislative Assembly representatives or through referendum, between a single Constituent Assembly in accordance with the Cabinet Mission Plan, or a separate Constituent Assembly for a separate State. It involved division of the Punjab and Bengal so that the Muslim-majority areas and non-Muslim majority areas could decide separately. The position of the Princes’ States was left unchanged.
On July 18th 1947, the India Independence Act 1947 was given the royal assent and came into force. The India Independence Act was a United Kingdom act of Parliament which separated British India into two new dominions of India and Pakistan. Pakistan came into being on August 14th 1947, and India on August 15th of the same year.