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India from 1939 to 1945


Ghandi in India
Ghandi in India

When World War II broke out in 1939 the British declared war on India’s behalf without consulting Indian leaders, and the Congress provincial ministries resigned in protest. After extended negotiations with the British, who were searching for a way to grant independence some time after the war’s end, Gandhi declared a “Quit India” movement in 1942, urging the British to withdraw from India or face nationwide civil disobedience. Along with other Congress leaders, he was imprisoned in August that year, and the country erupted in violent demonstrations. Gandhi was not released until 1944.

The Muslim League supported Britain in the war effort but had become convinced that if the Congress Party were to inherit British rule, Muslims would be unfairly treated. Jinnah campaigned vigorously against Congress during the war and increased the Muslim League’s support base. In 1940 the League passed what came to be known as the Pakistan Resolution, which demanded separate states in the Muslim-majority areas of India (in the northwest, centered on Punjab, and in the east, centered on Bengal) at independence. Many Muslims supported the Muslim League in its demand, while Hindus (and some Muslims) supported the Congress, which opposed partition of British India.

Another round of negotiations over Indian independence began after the war in 1946, but the Congress and the Muslim League were unable to settle their differences over partition.

Jinnah proclaimed August 16, 1946, Direct Action Day for the purpose of winning a separate Muslim state. Savage Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in Calcutta the next day and quickly spread throughout India. In September, an interim government was installed. Jawaharlal Nehru, the leader of Congress, became India’s first prime minister. A united India, however, no longer seemed possible. The new Labor government in Britain decided that the time to end British rule of India had come, and in early 1947 Britain announced its intention of transferring power no later than June 1948. "India" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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