On the occasion of the birth anniversary of former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik, an Intelligence Bureau document from 1945 surfaced on twitter showing how Patnaik bravely lent his flying skills for freedom fighters like Ram Manohar Lohia.

Biju Patnaik’s contribution towards freedom struggle

  • Participation in Quit India Movement: 
    • He actively joined the Quit India movement in 1942 and collaborated with the underground leaders like Jayaprakash Narayan, Aruna Asif Ali and Dr, Ram Manohar Lohia, even while in the British service. 
  • Officer in the Royal Indian Air Force and an excellent pilot: 
    • The Intelligence Bureau note claims that while in the employment of Indian National Airways, Patnaik misused his position as a pilot by surreptitiously flying Lohia (then underground) from Delhi to Calcutta. 
    • Nehru entrusted Patnaik with rescuing Indonesian resistance fighters who were fighting their Dutch colonizers. 
    • For his services to the cause of Indonesia’s independence, Sukarno the Indonesian President conferred the title “Bhoomiputra” on Patnaik and gave him honorary citizenship. 

Beginning of the movement

Quit India Movement

  • After the failure of Cripps Mission, Mahatma Gandhi made a Do or Die to call in his speech delivered at the Gowalia Tank Maidan (Mumbai, now popularly known as August Kranti Maidan).
  • It was also the time when the world was going through the havoc caused by World War II.
  • In March 1942, Britain sent Sir Stafford Cripps to India with a proposal for a new constitution. Congress and the Muslim League both rejected the British plan. 
  • From 29 April to 1 May 1942, the All India Congress Committee assembled in Allahabad to discuss the resolution of the Working Committee. 
  • On 14 July 1942, the Congress Working Committee met again at Wardha and resolved that it would authorize Gandhi to take charge of the non-violent mass movement. 
    • The Resolution, generally referred to as the 'Quit India' resolution, was to be approved by the All India Congress Committee meeting in Bombay in August.
  • At that time the Second World War (1939-45) was on. Indian leadership demanded Independence before it supported Britain in the war. But, the British declined to accept demands made by Indian leaders.  India refused to cooperate with Britain. 
  • The historic session of AICC began on  August 7 and concluded after midnight of August 8-9. 
  • People gathered in a large number at Gowalia Tank even in such a repressive atmosphere. 
  • Young Aruna Asaf Ali unfurled a tri-color at the Gowalia Tank. 

The call for the movement

  • Mahatma Gandhi addressed the Congress session on August 8 and gave a call for ‘Do or Die’. Gowalia Tank is now called August Kranti Maidan.
  • Within hours of Gandhi’s speech, the entire Congress leadership including Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Azad were arrested and put behind bars. The movement became leaderless. 
  • Gandhi was arrested and kept at Aga Khan Palace in Pune. Finally, he was released in May 1944.
  • Ist Half: The first half of the movement was peaceful with demonstrations and processions. The peaceful protest was carried till Mahatma Gandhi’s release.
  • IInd Half: The second half of the movement was violent with raids and setting fire at post offices, government buildings, and railway stations. Lord Linlithgow adopted the policy of violence.
  • Supporters of Britishers: The Viceroy’s Council of Muslims, Communist Party and Americans supported Britishers. Also, Muslim League, Hindu Mahasabha, Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) and even the undivided Communist party opposed Gandhi as well as his call for complete civil disobedience. 
  • On the other hand was the 'Tiger of Bengal', Subhash Chandra Bose who had given the slogan 'Dilli Chalo' and was marching with Aazad Hind Fauz to free India.
  • Although most demonstrations had been suppressed by 1944, upon his release in 1944 Gandhi continued his resistance and went on a 21-day fast. By the end of the Second World War, Britain's place in the world had changed dramatically and the demand for independence could no longer be ignored.

 The significance of the movement 

  • Carried forward without the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, or any other leader.
  • All sections of people participated in huge numbers.
  • The decentralized command was the prime significance of this movement.
  • The British began to seriously think about the issue of Indian independence after seeing the upsurge among the masses.
  • It changed the nature of political negotiations with the British empire in the 1940s which ultimately paved the way for India's independence.
  • The slogan of ‘Do or Die’ remains the most Krantikari slogan to this day.

Underground Activity during QIM

  • This was undertaken by the Socialists, Forward Bloc members, Gandhi ashramites, revolutionary terrorists and local organizations in Bombay, Poona, Satara, Baroda and other parts of Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra, UP, Bihar, and Delhi. 
  • Participants: Underground activity was carried out by Ram Manohar Lohia, Jay Prakash Narayan, Aruna Asaf Ali, Usha Sharma, Biju Patnaik, Chhotubhai Puranik, Achyut Patwardhan, Sucheta Kripalani and R.P. Goenka. 
  • Parallel governments: Chittu Pandey formed a government in Balia while YB Chavan and Nana Patil in Satara. 
  • It saw women participation where they not only participated as equals but also led the movement. 
    • There was Matangini Hazra, who led a procession of 6,000 people, mostly women, to ransack a local police station. 
    • Then there was Sucheta Kripalani who later went on to become the first women Chief Minister of India. 
    • Orissa had Nandini Devi and Sashibala Devi while Assam saw the participation of young girls like Kanaklata Baruah and Kahuli Devi who died of police atrocities. 
    • Contribution of Usha Mehta was unique as she started a Secret Congress Radio in Mumbai.

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