How Bengal prepared to tackle Quit India Movement

  • SNS

    September 30, 2015 | 05:23 AM

As Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress launched the Quit India Movement across the nation on 9 August 1942, the cabinet of the Bengal provincial government met that same day and decided to declare both the All India Congress Committee and Bengal Provincial Congress Committee as "unlawful associations" in Bengal, according to the Cabinet papers declassified by Trinamul Congress government on Monday.

The meeting decided that the Provincial Government should arrest such local Congress leaders and organisers as might be likely to take a prominent part in inciting or organising a civil disobedience movement, the Cabinet papers stated. As a precautionary measure, a list of persons to be arrested had been drawn up.

The general idea was "not to show more strength and not to take more action than was necessary", it was stated. Individual members of the Cabinet were asked by Governor, Sir John Arthur Herbert if they agreed to this policy and opportunity of voicing their opinion should be taken now. The finance minister, Syamaprasad Mookerjee stated that he objected to the instructions which were kept secret. Ministers ought to be trusted and they should have been allowed to make suggestions to the Governor General of the Government of India for the modification of the policy proposed in so far as it affected Bengal, he stated.

The procedure adopted created unnecessary distrust and they were now faced with the policy of accepting the policy or resigning office, he pointed out. No records were before them and he desired to record his formal protest, he added.

The public should not be antagonised unnecessarily and the government should not precipitate action, the finance minister pointed out. They must not be given impression that the armed forces were used for crushing the Congress instead of crushing Japan, he further pointed out.

The Commissioner of Police who later joined the meeting said that certain slogans were being shouted in the streets outside. Someone must have started these demonstrations, he pointed out. The people of Calcutta did not want trouble but trouble makers must be dealt with, the Commissioner of Police. One person has been arrested that morning and trouble might spread unless action was taken now, he added.

Chief minister AK Fazlul Huq pointed out that some members of the Cabinet were associated with the Congress, and the Hindus as a whole were satisfied with this Cabinet.

Both AICC, Bengal Cong were declared unlawful groups.

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