Important Landmarks of Indian Freedom Struggle

A freedom movement is any organized effort within a society to promote, or attain, liberation or independence, based on social, political, economic, religious, or other ideological grounds. The Indian independence movement was a series of historic events with the ultimate aim of ending the British rule in India. The movement spanned from 1857 to 1947. The first nationalistic revolutionary movement for Indian Independence emerged from Bengal.

In ancient times, people from all over the world were keen to come to India. The Persians followed by the Iranians and Parsis immigrated to India. Lastly, the Britishers came and ruled over India for nearly 200 years. After the battle of Plassey in 1757, the British achieved political power in India.

Revolt of 1857

The Revolt of 1857 is also known as The Great Revolt of 1857 or the Sepoy mutiny of 1857. The sepoys of India who were oppressed by the British for a long time revolted. The 1st initiative was taken by sepoy Mangal Pandey . He had shot a British general. The British had ordered to arrest Mangal Pandey but the Indian sepoys did not follow his instructions. Under the leadership of Mangal Pandey on 29 March 1857 the Indian sepoys marched to Delhi and made the nawab of Delhi the emperor of India. After that many revolts broke out in India. But the British had been successful In suppressing all of them. The Bengali middle class people were however apathetic to the revolt of 1857. Even they did not want the revolt to be successful. This was because they feared that if the British would go back then India would return to Its age of darkness again .the little money and status that they had acquired during the British rule would be lost. Although the Revolt of 1857 was unsuccessful It is in some cases identified as the First War of Independence.

Indian National Congress Formed 1885

The Indian National Congress is a broadly based political party in India . Founded in 1885, it was the first modern nationalist movement to emerge in the British Empire in Asia and Africa . From the late 19th century, and especially after 1920, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, Congress became the principal leader of the Indian independence movement. After India’s independence in 1947, Congress formed the central government of India, and many regional state governments. Congress became India’s dominant political party; as of 2015, in the 15 general elections since Independence, it has won an outright majority on six occasions and has led the ruling coalition a further four times, heading the central government for 49 years. There have been seven Congress Prime Ministers, the first being Jawaharlal Nehru (1947–1964), and the most recent Manmohan Singh (2004–2014). Although It did not fare well in the last general elections in India in 2014, it remains one of two major, nationwide, political parties In India, along with the right-wing, Hindu nationalist, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

Partition Of Bengal 1905

Bengal was partitioned in 1905 by Lord Curzon, based on the Riley Report of 1904 which stayed that ‘ Bengal United is a power : Bengal divided will pull in several different ways.’ East Bengal was given to the Muslims and West Bengal to the Hindus. The reason given to the people was that the partition was necessary for administrative convenience. But the real reason was because Bengal was the center of all Revolutionary activity. The Partition of Bengal created widespread education among the people of Bengal. Hindus and Muslims came out Into the street singing Vande Mataram. The movement soon spread to other parts of India. People decided to Boycott foreign goods and Institutions and use Indian goods. Thus the movement came to be called the Swadeshi Movement. The success of the movement led some National leads to advocate ‘revolutionary terrorism’ as a means to end British rule. Bengal was reunited In 1911.

Formation Of Muslim League 1906

After the Revolt of 1857, the British government followed a policy of ‘divide and rule’. In the beginning, Muslims were discriminated against. They were kept out of the army and the services. However, when the nationalist movement started, the policy of the government underwent a change. The government branded the Congress as a Hindu dominated Party and encouraged the upper class Muslims to start their own organization against the Congress. The partition of Bengal led to a united protest movement. At the Calcutta session of the congress in 1906, a large number of Muslim delegates participated. Mohammad Ali Jinnah moved an amendment opposing reservation of seats, which was accepted. Any-how the Influence of the communal elements among Muslims became strong. The Muslim leadership feared that, by opposing the British government, the Muslim middle and upper class’s economic interests would suffer. The encouragement given to upper class’s Muslims led to the formation of the Muslim League. On 30th December 1906, the Muslim League was formed.

The main objects of the Muslim League were :
(I) To create feeling of loyalty to the British government.
(ii) To protect and advance the political rights and interests of the Muslims of India.
(Iii) To prevent the rise among Muslims of India of any feelings of hostility towards other communities.

Split of Congress 1907

The Indian National Congress (INC), which was established in 1885 by A.O Hume, was divided into two groups(in the year 1907) mainly by extremists and moderates at the Surat Session of the Congress. The period of 1885-1905 was known as the period of the moderates as moderates dominated the Indian National Congress. These Moderates used petition, prayers, meetings, leaflets and pamphlets memorandum and delegations to present their demands in front of the British government. Moderates were not able to achieve notable goals other than the expansion of the legislative council by the Indian Council Act of 1892. This created dis-satisfaction among the people. In 1907 the INC meeting was to be held In Nagpur and the extremists wanted Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak as president. But moderates wanted Rash Bihari Ghosh to be president. Gopal Krishna Gokhale changed the meeting place from Nagpur to Surat fearing that If Nagpur was to be held as meeting place then Bal Gangadhar Tilak would become President. The partition of Bengal became the rise of extremism In INC.

India’s Capital shifted From Kolkata to Delhi  1911

Calcutta (now Kolkata) was the capital of India during the British Raj until December 1911. Calcutta had become the epicenter of the nationalist movements since the late nineteenth century led to the Partition of Bengal by then Viceroy of British India Lord Curzon. This created massive political and religious upsurge Including political assassinations of British officials in Calcutta. The anti-colonial sentiments amongst public leading to complete boycott of British goods forced the colonial government to reunite the Bengal partition and Immediate shift of the capital to New Delhi. 

Delhi-Lahore Conspiracy 1912

The Delhi Conspiracy case, also known as the Delhi-Lahore Conspiracy, refers to a conspiracy in 1912 to assassinate the then Viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge, on the occasion of transferring the capital of British India from Calcutta to New Delhi. Hatched by the Indian revolutionary underground in Bengal and Punjab and headed by Rash Behari Bose, the conspiracy culminated on the attempted assassination on 23 December 1912 when a homemade bomb was thrown into the Viceroy’s Howdah when the ceremonial procession moved through the Chandni Chowk suburb of Delhi. Although injured in the attempt, the Viceroy escaped with flesh wounds, but his Mahout was killed In the attack. Lady Harding was unscathed. Lord Harding himself was injured all over the back, legs, and head by fragments of the bomb, the flesh on his shoulders being torn in strips. In the aftermath of the event, efforts were made to destroy the Bengali and Punjabi revolutionary underground, which came under Intense pressure for some time. Rash Behari successfully evaded capture for nearly three years, becoming Involved in the Ghadir conspiracy before it was uncovered, and fleeing to Japan In 1916.

Formation of Ghadir Party 1913

The Ghadir Movement was an important episode in India’s freedom struggle. A ship named Komagata Maru, filled with Indian immigrants was turned back from Canada. As the ship returned to India several of its passengers were killed or arrested in a clash with the British police. This incident made the Ghadir Party proclaim war and inspired thousands of Indian immigrants to come back and organize an armed rebellion against British Imperialism. However, this movement was crushed. This article deals with the important events of Ghadir Movement. Original name of Ghadir Party was Pacific Coast Hindustan Association. The founding president of Ghadir Party was Sohan Singh Bhakna and Lala Hardayal was the co-founder of this party. Headquarters of the movement were set up at Yugantar Ashram In San Francisco.

Hindu-German Conspiracy 1914-1917

The Hindu–German Conspiracy was a series of plans between 1914 and 1917 by Indian nationalist groups to attempt Pan-Indian rebellion against the British Raj during World War I, formulated between the Indian revolutionary underground and exiled or self-exiled nationalists who formed, in the United States, the Ghadir Party, and in Germany, the Indian independence committee, in the decade preceding the Great War. The conspiracy was drawn up at the beginning of the war, with extensive support from the German Foreign Office, the German consulate in San Francisco, as well as some support from Ottoman Turkey and the Irish republican movement. The most prominent plan attempted to foment unrest and trigger a Pan-Indian mutiny In the British Indian Army from Punjab to Singapore. This plot was planned to be executed in February 1915 with the aim of overthrowing British rule over the Indian subcontinent. The February mutiny was ultimately thwarted when British Intelligence infiltrated the Ghadarite movement and arrested key figures. Mutinies In smaller units and garrisons within India were also crushed.

Rowlett Satyagraha  1919

Rowlett Acts, (February 1919), legislation passed by the Imperial Legislative Council, the legislature of British India. The acts allowed certain political cases to be tried without juries and permitted internment of suspects without trial.
Sedition Act 1870. The Sedition Act, allowed the government to arrest or detain any person without a fair trial In the court who was seen protesting or criticizing the British authority. In 1919 Gandhiji gave a call for a Satyagraha against the Rowlett Act, passed by the British. The Act restricted the freedom of expression and strengthened police powers. Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and others strongly opposed this Act.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre 1919

The Jallianwalah Bagh Massacre, also known as the Amritsar Massacre was a massacre that happened in Amritsar, in 1919. It is named after the Jallianwala Bagh [Temple] in the northern Indian city of Amritsar. On April 13, 1919, British Indian Army soldiers started shooting at an unarmed gathering of men, women and children. The person in charge was Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, the military commander of Amritsar. The shooting lasted about ten minutes. According to official British Raj sources, 379 people were killed. According to other sources, there were over 1,000 deaths, with more than 2,000 wounded, and Civil Surgeon Dr. Smith said that there were 1,526 casualties.

The Khilafat Movement 1919-1924

The Khilafat Movement was organized by the Ali brothers – Mohammed Ali and Shaukat Ali in protest against the injustices done to Turkey (which had fought against Britain) after the First World War. Turkey was important to the Indian Muslims as the Sultan of Turkey was also the ‘Caliph’ (or Khalifa) and was the head of the Muslims throughout the world. The Khilafat leaders put pressure upon the British government to give better treatment to Turkey. Through this demand, Muslims were drawn Into the national movement in large numbers. The movement become a part of the national movement. The Congress leaders joined In the agitation and helped in organizing It throughout the country.

Non-cooperation Movement 1920-1922

In the year 1921 M.K. Gandhi launched the non-cooperation Movement in India. He made an appeal to the Indian people that since the rule of Britishers in India came with the cooperation of Indians, thus, the only way to end the British rule in India is non-cooperation. This movement was launched in different phases. In the first phase, the Indian people who were awarded by the British government In their field began surrendering their titles of honors. The second stage included the boycott of civil services,  congressional assemblies, courts, foreign goods and schools. In the third stage, It was believed that if the administration practiced suppression, a complete civil disobedience drive would be launched by the nationalist leaders.

Chauri Chauri Killing 1922

The Chauri Chauri incident occurred at Chauri Chauri in the Gorakhpur district of the United Province, British India on 4 February 1922, when a large group of protesters, participating in the Non-cooperation movement, clashed with police, who opened fire. In retaliation the demonstrators attacked and set fire to a police station, killing all of Its occupants. The incident led to the deaths of three civilians and 22 or 23 policemen. the Indian National Congress halted the Non-cooperation Movement on the national level as a direct result of this Incident.

Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was founded 1925

Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh, abbreviated as RSS “National Volunteer Organisation” or “National Patriotic Organisation”, is an Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organisation that is widely regarded as the parent organisation of the ruling party of India, the Bhartiya Janata Party. The RSS is one of the principal organizations of the Sangh Parivar group. Founded on 27 September 1925, and claiming a commitment to selfless service to India. The organisation Is the world’s largest voluntary missionary organization. The initial impetus was to provide character training through Hindu discipline and to unite the Hindu community to form a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu nation). The organisation promotes the Ideals of upholding Indian culture and the values of a civil society and propagates the ideology of Hindutva, to “strengthen” the majority Hindu community.

Simon Commission 1927

Simon commission is one of the factors leading to the civil disobedience movement. This commission was appointed in November, 1927. It is named after Sir John Simon, who was the chairman of the commission. It was appointed by the British Government to investigate the need for further constitutional reforms. The commission had seven British members but no Indian members. This was seen as a deliberate move to insult the self-respect of Indians ◦In 1927, the Congress decides to boycott the commission ‘at every stage and In every form’. Even the Muslim League agreed to boycott the commission. Next year, an ‘All India Hartal’ was organized by the people. When the commission reached Mumbai, people greeted the commission with slogan “Simon Go Back”. During these protests and hartals. Lala Lajpat Rai was arrested and beaten up. Finally, the commission was sent back with some suggestions and recommendations. 

Declaration of Poorna Swaraj 1929

The Purna Swaraj declaration ( or Declaration of the Independence of India, was promulgated by the Indian National Congress on 19 December 1929, resolving the Congress and Indian nationalists to fight for Purna Swaraj, or complete self-rule independent of the British Empire. ◦The flag of India was hoisted by Jawaharlal Nehru on 31 December 1929 on the banks of Ravi river, In Lahore, modern-day Pakistan. The Congress asked the people of India to observe 26th of January as Independence Day(see Legacy). The flag of India was hoisted publicly across India by Congress volunteers, nationalists and the public. But Bhagat Singh was the first person who gave call to purna swaraj (total Independence).

Beginning of Civil Disobedience Movement 1930

Launched on April 6, 1930, the Civil Disobedience Movement was the most significant movement in the freedom struggle of India. The formation of the Simon Commission, Demand for Dominion Status and Protests against the arrest of social revolutionaries was the three most important causes of this movement. Moreover, the newly introduced salt laws played an important role in launching the Civil Disobedience Movement. According to the new laws the Indian people were required to buy the vital mineral salt, on which the British government was practicing a monopoly. As salt was the basic need for all the sections of the society people under the leadership of M.K. Gandhi launched a March known as the “Dandi March” against the unjust laws of the British government.
This march was joined by thousands of Indians. Therefore, on April 6, 1930, Gandhi formally launched the Civil Disobedience Movement. The main objective of the Civil Disobedience movement Is that the people wanted to break the unjust laws such as the salt tax law. In support of this movement, Indian people continued the production of salt and boycotted foreign clothes and goods. Farmers of India denied paying revenue and Chowkidari taxes. Indian administrators quit their jobs and In many states, tribal people violated forest laws.

The First Round Table Conference was held in London 1930

First Round Table Conference was first among the three such conferences organized between 1930 and 1932 by British government towards constitutional reforms in India. These conferences were conducted as per 1930 report of Simon Commission. First Round Table Conference was held between November 1930and January 1931. It was officially inaugurated on November 12, 1930 at House of Lords at London by the British King (George V) and was chaired by then British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald.

Participants The participants of the First Round Table conference Included :

  1. Total 16 delegates from three British Political Parties
  2. Total 74 delegate from India comprising 3.58 delegates from political parties In India 4.16 delegates from princely states

Second Round Table Conference was held 1931

The second round table conference was held in London (September 1931 – December 1931). Gandhiji represented the Indian National Congress. Gandhiji said that congress alone represented the political India. The untouchable of India are Hindus and does not need label of minorities and there is no need for spate electorate or special safeguard for Muslims or other minorities. This was rejected by other Indian participants. Gandhiji returned back empty handed, disappointed from the proceedings. However, the discussions lead to the passing of Government of India Act, 1935.

The Gandhi-Irwin Pact 1931

After the failure of First Round Table Conference efforts were made by the Government to make an agreement that  the congress  would attend the next Round Table Conference. The Viceroy, Lord Irwin, was authorised to hold talks with Mahatma Gandhi. Finally, Gandhi and Irwin made an agreement on 5 March 1931. The agreement is called Gandhi-Irwin pact. By this pact Government agreed to release most of the civil disobedience volunteers, against whom there was no allegation of violence. The Congress suspended the Civil Disobedience Movement and agreed to participate In the second Round Table Conference.

Poona Pact 1932

The Poona Pact refers to an agreement between B. R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi on behalf of depressed classes and caste Hindu leaders on the reservation of electoral seats for the depressed classes in the legislature of British India government. Contrary to popular belief, Mahatma Gandhi was not involved in signing the pact. It was made on 24 September 1932 at Yerwada Central Jail in Pune, India. It was signed by B.R Ambedkar on behalf of the depressed classes and Madan Mohan Malviya on behalf of the Caste Hindus as a means to end the fast that Gandhi was undertaking In jail as a protest against the decision by British prime minister Ramsay MacDonald to give separate electorates to depressed classes for the election of members of provincial legislative assemblies In British India. They finally agreed upon 148 electoral seats.

Government of India Act was passed 1935

In August 1935, the British gove3rnment announced the Government of India Act.

The main provisions of this act were :

  1. India was to become a federation if more than 50 per cent of the Princely States decide to join it.
  2. Provincial autonomy was granted. The ministers of provincial government s were to be responsible to the legislature. The power of the legislature was also increased. But the right to vote remained limited (only 14 per cent people had voting rights).
  3. Diarchy was abolished at the provincial level but Introduced at the Centre. The Viceroy became more powerful and was not to be responsible to the legislature.

The Act was rejected by the Congress. It, however, decided to contest the elections of the provincial legislative assemblies In AD 1937. The Muslim League also contested these elections.

Quit India Movement 1942

In August 1942, Gandhiji launched the Quit India Movement (“Bharat Chhodo Andolan”).
A resolution was passed on 8 August 1942 in Bombay by the All India Congress Committee, declaring its demand for an immediate end of British rule. The Congress decided to organize a mass struggle on non-violent lines on the widest possible scale. Gandhiji’s slogan of ‘Do or Die’ (‘Karo ya Maro’) inspired the nation. Every man, women and child began dreaming of a free India. The government’s response to the movement was quick. The Congress was banned and most of its leaders were arrested before they could start mobilizing the people. The people, however, were unstoppable. There were hartals and demonstrations all over the country. The people attacked all symbols of the British government such as railway stations, law courts and police stations. Railway lines were damaged and telegraph lines were cut. In some places, people even set up their Independent government. The movement was most widespread in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Bombay, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Places such as Ballia, Tamluk, Satara, Dharwar, Balasore and Talcher were freed from British rule and the people there formed their own governments. The British responded with terrible brutality. The army was called out to assist the police. There were lathi-charges and firing at the unarmed demonstrators.

Cripps Mission 1942

The Cripps Mission was a failed attempt in late March 1942 by the British government to secure full Indian cooperation and support for their efforts in World War II. The mission was headed by a senior minister Sir Stafford Cripps, Lord Privy Seal and leader of the House of Commons. Cripps belonged to the left-wing Labour Party, traditionally sympathetic to Indian self-rule, but was also a member of the coalition War Cabinet led by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who had long been the leader of the movement to block Indian independence. Cripps was sent to negotiate an agreement with the nationalist Congress leaders, who spoke for the majority Indians, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League, who spoke for the minority Muslim population comprising 35% of the total population. Cripps worked to keep India loyal to the British war effort In exchange for a promise of elections and full self-government (Dominion status) once the war was over. Cripps discussed the proposals, which he had drafted himself, with the Indian leaders and published them. Both the major parties rejected his proposals, and they were also unacceptable to Churchill; no middle way was found and the mission failed. Congress moved towards the Quit India movement whereby it refused to cooperate In the war effort; in response, the British imprisoned practically the entire Congress leadership for the duration of the war. Jinnah and the Muslims, to whom Cripps had offered the right to opt out of a future Union, supported the war effort and gained In status in British eyes. He was surprised to see that the right to opt out of a future Union was Included.

The great Bengal Famine 1943

The Bengal famine of 1943 was a major famine in the Bengal province in British India during World War II. An estimated 2.1–3 million, out of a population of 60.3 million, died of starvation, malaria and other diseases aggravated by malnutrition, population displacement, unsanitary conditions and lack of health care. Millions were Impoverished as the crisis overwhelmed large segments of the economy and social fabric. Historians have frequently characterised the famine as “man-made”, asserting that wartime colonial policies created and then exacerbated the crisis. A minority view holds that the famine arose from natural causes.

India gained its freedom from British rule  1947

India got its freedom from the British Rule on 15th August, 1947. Hence, we celebrate our Independence Day on 15th of August every year. There is national holiday on Independence Day. We all know that Freedom is not free. It took years of efforts, non-violence and other movement by our national freedom fighter to attain Freedom. On 15th of August, 1947, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru raised the tri-color national flag of India at Red Fort, Delhi. There the National Flag Is hoisted and the National anthem is sung in chorus. Everybody takes a new oath to serve the country and to do everything to uplift her glory. The elders remember the martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the struggle for independence. They pay homage to the great leaders who suffered a lot to win our freedom. This day also Inspires us to follow the teaching of peace and non-violence that was preached by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation.