Who Do We Actually Owe Our Freedom To?

Which phase of our freedom struggle won for us Independence? Mahatma Gandhi’s 1942 Quit India movement or The INA army launched by Netaji Bose to free India or the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny of 1946? According to the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, during whose regime India became free, it was the INA and the RIN Mutiny of February 18-23 1946 that made the British realise that their time was up in India.

mutinyAn extract from a letter written by P.V. Chuckraborty, former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, on March 30 1976, reads thus: “When I was acting as Governor of West Bengal in 1956, Lord Clement Attlee, who as the British Prime Minister in post war years was responsible for India’s freedom, visited India and stayed in Raj Bhavan Calcutta for two days`85 I put it straight to him like this: ‘The Quit India Movement of Gandhi practically died out long before 1947 and there was nothing in the Indian situation at that time, which made it necessary for the British to leave India in a hurry. Why then did they do so?’ In reply Attlee cited several reasons, the most important of which were the INA activities of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, which weakened the very foundation of the British Empire in India, and the RIN Mutiny which made the British realise that the Indian armed forces could no longer be trusted to prop up the British. When asked about the extent to which the British decision to quit India was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s 1942 movement, Attlee’s lips widened in smile of disdain and he uttered, slowly, ‘Minimal’.”

Strangely enough, like the chapattis which went all around India during the 1857 First War of Independence asking the nation drive away the British, it was 20 loaves of bread that started this so-called RIN Mutiny. It was a reaction against the high-handed behaviour by British officers of the RIN. On January 16, 1946, a contingent of 67 ratings of various branches arrived at Castle Barracks, Mint Road, in Fort Mumbai. This contingent had arrived from the basic training establishment, HMIS Akbar, located at Thane a suburb of Mumbai at four in the evening. The officer on duty informed the galley (kitchen) staff of this arrival. Quite casually, the duty cook, without winking an eyelid, took out 20 loaves of bread from the large cupboard and added three litres of tap water to the mutton curry as well as the gram dal which was lying already cooked before as per the morning strength of the ratings. On that day, only 17 ratings ate the watery, tasteless meals, while the rest went ashore and ate. When reported to senior officers present, this grievances practically evoked no response and the discontentment continued to build up.

mutinyThese complaints continued to agitate the ratings and a naval central strike committee was formed on February 18, 1946. It was led by naval rating M.S Khan. Soon, thousands of disgruntled ratings from Mumbai, Karachi, Cochin and Vishakhapatnam joined them. They communicated with each other through the wireless communication sets available in HMIS Talwar. Thus, the entire revolt was coordinated. The unrest spread to shore establishments from the initial flashpoint in Bombay to Karachi and Calcutta, involving 78 ships, 20 shore establishments and 20,000 sailors.

The next morning, the Tricolour was hoisted by the ratings on most of the ships and establishments. The third day came charged with fresh emotions. Sardar Patel’s statement of assurance did improve matters considerably. However, an unruly guncrew of a 25-pounder gun fitted in an old ship, fired a salvo, without orders from the strikers, towards the Castle barracks and blew off a large branch of an old banyan tree. By this time the British destroyers fully armed to go into action arrived and had positioned themselves off the Gateway of India in Mumbai.

The RIN Mutiny was treated as a crisis of the empire by an alarmed British cabinet and Attlee Clement, ordered the Royal Navy to put down the revolt. Admiral Godfrey, the Flag Officer commanding the RIN, went on air with his order “Submit or perish”.

Gen Shah Nawaz Khan
Gen Shah Nawaz Khan

Both Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Sardar Patel successfully persuaded the ratings to surrender. Patel wrote, “Discipline in the army cannot be tampered with. We will want [the] army even in free India”. Mahatma Gandhi, criticised the strikers for mutinying without the call of a ‘prepared revolutionary party’ and without the ‘guidance and intervention’ of ‘political leaders of their choice’.

The issue remained unresolved till the morning of February 23, when the hopeless situation produced a vote of surrender. The black flags went up at six on the morning of February 23.

The negotiations moved fast, keeping in view the extreme sensitivity of the situation and most of the demands of the strikers regarding welfare measures were conceded in principle. Immediate steps were taken to improve the quality of food served in the ratings’ kitchen and their living conditions. But these were followed up by court martials and large-scale dismissals from the service. None of those dismissed were reinstated into either of the Indian or Pakistani navies after Independence.

But the brave sailors had demonstrated to the British that they would rise in defence of their motherland, thus leaving the foreign imperialists little option but to quit.

Today a memorial to the brave RIN ratings, completed by the Indian Navy in 2002, in Colaba, Mumbai, just next to the MSLTA courts and opposite to the Taj Wellington Mews.




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  • Just wish to spread this news to each and every citizen of India and we also need to re-write the history of our educational books so that our kids come to know about the real facts of our independence. Spread it as much as possible.

  • Then why this truth is not entering our children school text book? Why they are still swallowing the Gandhi gifted independence? What is the use of calling old haggard as father of nation?

  • point of discussion to find out the truth on this matter as well to educate my self on the truth!
    dont u think it must have been a joint efforts which must have let to our independence. because our freedom fighter were dealing with the people who were ruling us since years long time. and in order to achieve anything on such a bigger scale there is always chain of events or efforts. not a single moment can change everything in a flash. each and every efforts counts irrespective of its size, form etc.
    sadly and very disappointingly some of the contributions are lost and never heard of in past pages which makes me disconsolate as we will never know the whole truth n memories lost for our freedom.

    • I agree with you brother. There is a good amount of truth in this article but one truth can not be glorified by undermining another truth. Since the British raj was since long in India, it could never be one event that can change everything in a flash. Of course it could be the latest reason for the final achievement. But every effort however tiny in the direction must be counted if we really pursue the historical truth!

      Again there are many kind of human services. The depth of involvement is directly proportional to the vastness of their acceptability and the length of time (centuries) they serve for. The people throughout the world who have experienced their lives changed after reading Mahatma Gandhi’s MY EXPERIMENT WITH TRUTH can understand it properly. Anyway, there is truth that many great contributions towards our independence is not accurately known and this is a misfortune of independent India..

  • Its purely one sided and biased information and it totally misguides people. If anyone wants to know about Gandhi, you have to read his biography written by himself. No one written about him/her self very openly. How come people across country and religions and caste loved him ? They were ready to do anything for him. India would not have got freedom by using weapons because everyone knows British’s army strength. World war 2 they had submarines / army planes , powerful bombs, high power tanks. Their strength lies in their weapons. Gandhi knew very well and his idea was not giving British to use their weapons. Sine he was fighting non-violent manner British chances of using becomes zero. Also British need human resource to manage India and he targeted that by starting non-cooperative movement. He collapsed their management structures. Jallian wallah bagh killings created very bad name for British in world stage including in UK. That is the reason they came down.First he tried in South Africa in smaller scale and worked very well. Then he came to India to implement in a bigger scale. Read the books published by authors who lived in that time across world. You can understand the truth about him and his powerful idealogies. He is a true Hindu and lived as per our Vedas. He didn’t support Baghat sigh because if he did that it would have pulled people to non-violent path. Then it would have been easy for British to control as they were waiting for such opportunity. This is the reason behind JWB killings and Gandhi successfully defused it. He was a wonderful human who lived in our era and we should be proud for that.

    • There is far more information about Gandhi that is hidden from the public eyes for obvious reasons. Gandhi was equally arrogant about his education and status until he was thrown off the train in South Africa. I am not sure where you came up with Gandhi starting his campaign in South Africa because his idea about the way Whites treated Africans was justified – herded, chained and treated like animals. In fact, I believe his wake up call came when he was stuck in prison with the Blacks for a while. Even then his arrogance didn’t dull down but his mind turned towards how this can be cashed in India where he was a rarity as an educated man. You forget that only a very few Indians were allowed to be educated even when the British Raj destroyed the Gurukul system of education to superimpose their imperial education.

      You may want to check this page out to get some more ideas on the life and times of Gandhi’s greatness, the admin puts up little known facts:

  • Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah and Maulana Azad had entered into a pact with the British that Netaji would be handed over to British if at all Netaji entered the country. Such was the treachery with the top characters and we are now supposed to teach our children that they were responsible for our Independence. I am sure Truth cannot be hidden for a long time.

  • This article I feel, is bit biased and doesn’t depicts the complete picture of the real facts. No mutiny or movement alone can be credited with the British expulsion from India as it was a strenuous effort taken by all those people who liberated us from the clutches of British Raj. Even the first failed mutiny of 1857 has a pivotal role to play in the freedom movement as it had sown the seeds of freedom within the minds of Indian people. It was later that this struggle erupted in various forms at various places with more or less repercussions. Similarly, the freedom of India cannot be attributed only to the RIN mutiny or INA army as the revolts before them has equal significance.

  • During 2nd world war America, England, France and Russian alliance defeated Germany.After the war, the highest gallantry awards were awarded to the military officers as a mark of appreciation. 37 officers were nominated for this VICTORIAN CROSS AWARD out of 37 officers 20 were from other nations of british colonisation. out of 20 but for 3 officers all 17 officers were from INDIA!!!It was a proud moment for India. Perhaps after seeing so many warriors, the remote controlled England was scared of Indian might. This was also an important reason why they had to call back their citizens from India. India never plundered any country, There are so many unsung heros and martyrs of our country who had participated during world wars to support the British rulers. So we should feel proud reading the article.

  • Glad that someone acknowledged the role of the RIN mutiny in bringing about independence. A deal was struck between the outgoing British and Congress that the mutineers were not to be re-enrolled in the Indian Navy upon independence. It’s then particularly galling that those who hastened the end of the empire and brought freedom were not only forgotten, but also lost their livelihoods as well. I think the INA also deserves some credit for independence even if militarily they were not a success, the Red Fort Trials was a political one that hastened the departure of the British from India.

  • After reading this article i feel like all these years of studying history was completely in vain as they just glorified people who can hardly be called national heroes . Our history books are filled with gandhi and his various movements and all we have is a small chapter in the name of netaji . Hope the new goverment takes steps towards changing d history sylabus so atleast d new gnrtn can know d real history and no more about d real heroes .

  • Dear All,
    Our collective historical knowledge itself was biased by the congress controlled NCERT , were historians with congressi political affliations have completely changed the nation’s psych into believing that our freedom was brought by the sacrifice of so called great leaders like Gandhi, Nehru.
    We people just blindly follow what was thought in schools about nonviolence , religious brotherhood etc . Take Americafor example fought a war , against british won independence and see where are they today.
    Gandhi , was just a political machination by the Congress to reduce the effect of BAL , LAL and PAL on the indian freedom movement who wanted poornaswarajya in 1915-1916’s unlike the moderates in congress who just wanted home rule under british with congress at the helm of affairs of the nation. FYI Motilal Nehru a businessman was the moneybags behind the congress and he extracted his pound of flesh from the nation in the form of Nehru and that family is doing the same even to this day.All you people’s who hero worship Mohandas Gandhi and his stooge Nehru first get your facts right , then talk. As a parting shot here is a snippet , Sardar Patel was supposed to be our first prime minister and this to was averted by Gandhi.

  • All those people blinded by Gandhi’s ‘ Experiments with truth’ please try to understand that it was nothing other than a self propaganda book. Gandhi was no saint, yes he was a gly ood leader who lead the masses but his political ideology has done more harm to the nation than anything else. A selfish and self centered man who was responsible for the death of martyrs like Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose and partition of India. Gandhi-Nehru clan bough independence from the British by brokering the life’s of true martyrs of INA. They spread false propaganda of Subhash being a traitor who ran away in text books and a myth of Japanese invasion on India.

    Had it not been for the 2nd world war which completely broke the limbs and backbone of the mighty British empire India would not have achieved independence even till 2014. Hitler bombarded England with V1-V2 rockets which nearly sank the city of London, the British empire was not capable of holding on to a massive country like India after the WW2. The naval mutiny and people’s awakening to INA call post INA trials weakened them further in India. So it was safer to broker truce with the agents Nehru dynasty and appoint him as a puppet PM of India. Everyone knows the rest, what this dynasty has done to India.

    Kindly read some better books than typical Congress propaganda books.

  • But the british are now replaced with “brown sahabs” and the ratings still have watered down food…..beleive me i’ve gone through hell …

  • Some say that the east india comapny was owned by a German jew Rothschild. and actually “british” name was used to hide their true identity. So they created a lot of fake gurus – nonviolence preacher – Gandhi and others. History book was falsified to show Satipratha which was never the case in india as it is depicted to be . except when rajput ladies commited suicide to save their deadbody from the moguls . All was done to make the hindus self loathing but inquisition in Goa was left out. But the problem is not just that

    If the rothschilds created Gandhi and other fake gurus to control the mass. they will be the one to kill the concept of Gandhi when its time is done and while doing so they will bring up another false leader – I hope Modi Branded by Israeli based APCO international winning election is not because of that. So Gandhi was fake or not is not the problem. The foreign controlled media doing false propaganda and the simplistic indians blindly worshipping one leader or the other is the problem.

  • True it is. we always knew the treacherous ways of manhandling of the people of India by the Gandhi-nehru combination. However gandhi did something at least- he was instrumental in spreading the doctrine of need of independence across the masses along the entire length and breadth of this country. had he taken a route of violence, the movement would have surely been nipped in the bud by the mighty British army- as more than 70% of Indians were illiterate at that time, there was hardly any money with the Indians to continue a millitary warfare, being surrounded by the british on all sides and given the excellency of the british intelligence there was hardly any scope of continuous supply of arms from any other country in the world. Gandhi was quick to realize this problem and hence he marched his countrymen cum soldiers accordingly. One has to understand that before gandhi, the common man in india treated any freedom fighter as outcast and there are so many instances of people of India giving away informations about martyrs to the british police- thus Bagha jatin, Surya sen, Prafulla chaki, Aurobindo ghosh and many many others were neutralised by the british police at different times. but it took an intelligent gandhi no time to take the war of independence to every household of the country. he needs to be saluted for this.
    But then it was altogether a different ball-game. the need of the hour was money, food, education, job for all. DISCIPLINE was required the foremost but mighty british were quick to realize their loosing grip over the country and that in order to continue their supremacy they needed to break the very Indian discipline- which they craftily nurtured by supporting hindu and muslim nuisances against each other. But gandhi failed completely in this matter. may be that anybody in his place would also have failed as the Muslim tyrrany goes the same way from its very birth and we can see the same tradition even today in ISIS who want the entire world to be converted to ISLAM. Now here lay the real twist. Instead of giving in to the muslims softly, gandhi should had declared INDIA a hindu country which would had prevented division also. but in order to do so it would have required a strong dominance with a strong believer like netaji Bose or Sardar Patel. nehru was hardly even qualified for the job. but such was the strong EGO of gandhi that he purposefully avoided such a possibility and preferred a yes man in nehru who was also the funding agent for the congress. here was the real failure of the gandhi. he also failed to realise the vulnerability of the british empire post world warII even when Subhash Bose hinted him about such an opportunity. It was never wrong to begin a non violent war at the beginning but to switch it appropriately at the right time to something more logical and decisive- is where gandhi failed. Alas his failure led to the massacre of millions of people in the name of Hindu-muslim riots. i dont think that a man of his calibre would have not foreseen it, but probably it was his supreme ego on his own ways which led him to defy every other opinion and even select a nuisance like nehru.
    However this is all history. Good or bad we have to accept things as they are. But then to create our destiny is in our hands. For which we must be 100% educated, create our own ways, to verify science, politics, economics in our own ways. we must try to understand dharma(not religion) not as a post dinner staff but that dharma is the very essence of our being. Dharma is not rituals but rather it is the very goal of human life: even definition of health would someday soon accept it as the primary focus for all health related activities.continuous constructive urguement is just the way to it. we as a country now is just copying from the west although our own blood is working tremendously well in countries like USA. we should focus rather on these matters and try to construct our own laboratories, our own RESEARCHES, our own ways. Even just converting to a HINDU rashtra would be hardly meaningful if beforesaid goals are not achieved. Once achieved we will surely realise that there is no difference between being A Secular nation and a HINDU nation. Rather Secular state is better as Hindu religion is in essence Secular.
    Finally it should be mentioned that We should all strive for single world citizenship and every artificial barrier need be pulled off, although a distant dream at present. But before that to happen every country in the world need to be strong enough to prove their own identity as we all know that there can be no friendship between a strong and a weak one. So I mean thereby that we all need be patriotic. DISCIPLINE is just the way to it. strongly we should frame our own goals in all spheres of national life. Parliament should be the mandir for all arguments and that we should continually prepare ourselves for every argument in the parliament and that there should be representatives from people as well as professionals during any such argument in the parliament. there should be parallel form of Argument centres in Village level, industry level, city and district and state levels just like the Law-courts which should be manned by civil service candidates. although arms and ammunitions should be strictly under Govt control, training of weapons and martial arts should be made compulsory for every citizen- this will definitely improve our security as well as improve our preparedness to any nuisance attacks like the one we witnessed in Mumbai terror attack etc. finally we must be a FREE country, Free citizens not giving in to any external pressure be it USA or the ISLAMISTs, or Pakistan Or China. Jai hind

    • I really appreciate your proposal, secularism is most important than religion. Religion should be individual way of daily life, what ever religion he/she choose to live.

  • Yes ! The treatment given to Subhash Babu was totally wrong and unfortunate. His contribution to our independence is great ! Veer Sawarkar and all other Krantikarak were also the real patriots !
    But now the question is NOW we require to concentrate totally on UNITY, EQUALITY and Strengthening the NATION !
    If we go on digging out history, we will find thousands of enemies. There are so many confusions about the misterious death of our Idols, right from Bhagvan Krishna, Shivaji,etc.
    Giving up Enmity and trying for a Unity would also be a GOOD SERVICE TO THE NATION !!!

  • the entire world knows that india was given freedom only if partition was accepted by all. it was accepted and freedom given. after freedom, the nation was further split (partitioned) into three major aspects by three greats.

    1a) gandhi obtained freedom – which was the first mistake. the masses and specially the rural folks wanted only food two times a day and a place to sleep peacefully coupled with proper clothing. (roti, kapda and makaan) the british provided them and controlled the masses. hence none were bothered about independence.

    1b) his next mistake (call it blunder) was making the useless chacha (chamcha) as the prime minister, who agreed to form various states according to local requirements. though only 14 states bloomed at the time of independence, it is now open for everyone to count the number of states that have cropped up after freedom. further, even states have started to disintegrate by carving more number of districts in the recent past.

    1c) his next mistake, (or a corollary) was refusing to allow sardar patel (iron man) as the prime minister.

    1d) the final mistake (blunder) regrouping eminent persons to form and write down the constitution of india, (which was done by baba saheb) which included enforcing reservations among our own masses in the name of equality.

    all children are born equally in the eyes of GOD. there is no such thing as high caste and low caste. nine months in the mother’s womb, and then getting birth. can anyone prove that a mother did not like her child in the womb? or can any mother say that i dont like my child? when such is the case, why the freedom stalwarts created reservation among the masses? it is anybody’s guess — only for votes and personal gratification. now-a-days in government service, a person who belongs to a different caste is made to go up the ladder than the other person of a different caste. it is really humiliating to see a junior going up and doing nothing fruitful for the country. only enjoying the previliges given by the government. is this really required now, that too after 68 years of freedom???? it may be possible in the near future, that the previliged classes may raise demands for giving reduction in various taxes in the name of reservations, viz., income tax, house tax, etc, etc. even re-allotment of pan numbers with suitable caste prefixes may also see the light of the day in future….

    please think over and anybody reply whether the gandhi, nehru and baba saheb were the real freedom heroes OR Lal, Pal, and Bal….. ?

  • I think time has come for the world to face the truth!!! We do not have to call anyone the father and mother of nation, all our fathers and mothers and their sons and daughter from Peshawar to Assam, Kashmir to Ceylon, who lost their lives for independence movement deserve as much respect. Above all Subhas Bose’s courage, commitment, and creativity is second to none on international stage, it will be nice if India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka together could commit to come together under the auspices of thought leadership provided by Subhas, Tagore and Vivekananda. None of them were fighting for broken and corrupt pieces as we have today, – they were fighting for an united India whose values are rooted in 5000 years of history. Clearly history of India’s independence and its partition needs deeper analyses.