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Key events in the Freedom Struggle leading to India's independence

While everyday was a struggle for the Indians fighting for their freedom, there were some key events that rattled the British monarchy
Last Updated : 15 August 2021, 06:05 IST
Last Updated : 15 August 2021, 06:05 IST

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India has had a rich and varied history, one that isn't devoid of any struggles. For 200 years, India struggled to free itself from the shackles of the British Raj, making the fight to freedom a long-drawn one.

While every day was a struggle for the Indians fighting for their freedom, some key events rattled the British monarchy, enough for India to awaken to its freedom on August 15, 1947.

On India's 75th Independence Day, let us take a look at the key events from Freedom Struggle:

Revolt of 1857

India's First War of Independence, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, was the first time Indians united against the British Raj. This rebellion led to the dissolution of the East India Company's rule in India and shifted the powers of the Company to the British Crown, in 1858.

Establishing the Indian National Congress in 1885

In 1885, the Indian National Congress was established. It became the leading party alongside the Muslim League and led the nation in the Freedom Struggle.

1915: Return of Mahatma Gandhi to India

In 1915, the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa.

Lucknow Pact of 1916

The Lucknow pact was an agreement between Congress and the Muslim League. Muhammed Ali Jinnah had a strong role to play. As a member of both, the League and the Congress, he made both the parties agree that they would put more pressure on the British so that they adopt a more liberal approach to letting Indians run their country.

1917: The Champaran Satyagraha

In 1917, Gandhi led an uprising of the farmers of Champaran, who were being forced to grow Indigo and were not even being compensated enough for it.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

In 1919, the British government had released an order banning public gatherings to punish civilians for their 'disobedience'. However, unaware of this order, thousands of Indians gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, on April 13, to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi. Brigadier-General Dyer called in troops and ordered them to open fire for 10 mins at the mass gathering. The troops had also blocked the main entrance so no one could flee. Many jumped in wells to save themselves. As per the official records of the British, 350 people died in the massacre, but Congress claims the number was as high as 1,000 people.

It was this event that prompted the start of the Non-Cooperation Movement.

Non-Cooperation Movement

In 1920, Mahatma Gandhi took charge of Congress and started the Non-Cooperation Movement. The movement was non-violent and saw people not buying British goods, supporting local artisans and handicrafts, and picketing alcohol shops. He went around the countr explaing the tenets of the movement to the masses. The movement came to an end in 1922, when a protest at Chauri Chaura police station turned violent.

Return of Subhash Chandra Bose to India

In 1921, Subhash Chandra Bose quit his high-paying ICS job in England to join India's struggle for Independence. Shortly after his return, he joined the Congress. He started a newspaper titled 'Swaraj'. He was sent to prison in 1925 and was released in 1927. Upon his release, he was made the President of the All India Youth Congress and the Secretary of the Bengal State Congress. In 1930, he became the Mayor of Calcutta.

Purna Swaraj on January 26, 1930

On January 26, 1930, the Indian National Congress declared the independence of India which the British did not recognise.

The Dandi March of 1930

In an act of civil disobedience, Gandhiji took a crowd from the Sabarmati Asharam to Dandi beach, in a non-violent manner, to protest against the repressive salt tax imposed by the British government.

Government of India Act of 1935

The Government of India Act and the creation of a new constitution laid the foundations for the events that would follow in the next decade and thereafter.

Creation of the Indian National Army

An important development in the struggle for freedom during the Second World War was the formation and activities of the Azad Hind Fauj, also known as the Indian National Army, or INA.

The Indian National Army was formed from among the Indian prisoners of war with the aim of liberating India from British rule. In 1943, Subhash Chandra Bose visited Japan, where he rebuilt the INA. He shaped it to be an effective instrument for the freedom of India. The INA had close to 45,000 soldiers. In October 1943, Bose formed a provisional government that had been recognised by the Axis Powers during the Second World War

Quit India Movement of 1942

The All-India Congress Committee started this movement in their Bombay session on August 8, 1942. There was only one mission - to end British Rule in India. In addition, Gandhiji made a call to Do or Die in his Quit India speech that he delivered in Bombay.

Royal Navy Strike of 1946

On February 18, 1946, 1,100 Indian sailors of the HMIS Talwar, and the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) Signal School in Bombay declared a hunger strike against the conditions of Indians in the Navy. The next day, somewhere between 10,000-20,000 soldiers joined the strike.

While the initial demands were for better food and working conditions, the strike soon turned into a wider demand for independence from the British.

The protesting sailors also demanded the release of all political prisoners including those from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army.

Partition of India and the Independence of the country in 1947

The Parliament of the UK passed the Indian Independence Act. As per the Act, British India would be divided into India and Pakistan. The Monarch gave its assent on July 18, 1947, and it came into effect on August 14-15 in Pakistan and India respectively.

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Published 13 August 2021, 13:37 IST

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