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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/4/17

1946 Great Navy Mutiny and Congress betrayal

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Naval Uprising Statue, Colaba,
Naval Uprising Statue, Colaba,
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(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

While India celebrates its Navy Day (December 4) today, let's do a remembrance to The Royal Indian Navy (RIN) Mutiny of 1946 which left colonial masters Britain with no choice but to leave India.

That there is little mention of this momentous event in Indian historiography is a striking indictment of establishment run by Congress who had turned its back on this spectacular mass uprising in that heady week of February (18-23).

British Prime Minister Clement Attlee accepted three weeks later that "the tide of nationalism is running very fast in India." Britain had always feared united mass movements in India and RIN Mutiny was one such where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Parsees had come under one banner. Indian masses came out on streets in support and hundreds spilled their blood on the street.

Salman Rushdie's 1995 novel The Moor's Last Sigh describes these momentous events on the streets of Bombay, through one of its character, thus:

"In February 1946, when Bombay, that super epic motion picture of a city, was transformed overnight into a motionless tableau by the great naval and landlubber strikes, when ships did not sail, steel was not milled, textile mills neither warped nor woofed, and in the movie studios there was neither turnover nor cut--the 21-year-old Aurora began to zoom around the paralyzed towns in his curtained Buick, directing her driver Hanuman to the heart of the act, or rather of all that great inaction, being set down outside factory gates and dockyards, venturing alone into the slum city of Dharavi, the rum-dens of Dhobi Talao, and the neon flesh pots of Falkland Road, armed only with a folding wooden stool and a sketchbook.

"Opening them both up, she set about capturing history in charcoal."

Remember your history books and historians, your glorified political leaders and their progenies, all your Independence and Republic Day celebrations and after you've read of this great betrayal, don't muffle but air-rend your full-throated cry which sends shockwave through this land of ours and warn these enemies "Not now and never again."

And tell your children: "you would read history as it happened and not as it was doctored to your parents."

THE BACKGROUND

The World War II had caused RIN to expand massively. It was 10 times larger than in 1939. Young men were enlisted in tens of thousands. Moving around the world, they could see the fire of nationalism against colonialism sweeping around the world. As these young men were hailed as liberators in Greece, Burma, Indo-China, Indonesia, Italy. It was logical they asked themselves: Why not India be free now?

The myth of British supremacy was receding. These young men could see how European forces were wilting across Asia under the Japanese aggression. The Indian National Army (INA) of Subhas Chandra Bose had captured their imagination. The trials of those arrested brethrens and their humiliation had filled the natives in armed forces and on streets with revulsion and anger.

In January 1946, the airmen of Royal Air Force mutinied as a harbinger to the eventually bigger revolt. They seized the signaling equipment and spread their message to other servicemen. From Karachi, the agitation spread to places as far as Kanpur to Singapore. The navymen were demanding delisting from the services. They were unwilling for fresh battles in Indonesia on behalf of the Dutch government as well as war in Vietnam, then under the rule of the French colonial government. The hands of British government were forced.

Meanwhile, trials of INA officers were on at the Red Fort. A young naval Rating (enlisted officer), Balai Chandra Dutt, posted on HMIS Talwar in Bombay, began painting the ships and dockyard walls with messages in its support. HMIS Talwar had 1500 officers and ratings and was the second largest training center in the whole of British Empire. In the recollections, titled "Mutiny of the Innocent", the mutineers detailed the squalor on board, the poor quality of food and the racism of British officers.

The mutineers first took out peaceful processions in Bombay, holding an image of Subhas Bose aloft. Chief Commanding Officer (CO) King called the rebellious "you son of bitches" and "sons of bloody junglees." Rebels responded by deflating his car. The events of dockyards in Mumbai spread like a wildfire across the country. Ratings set up a INA Relief Fund and posted letters against CO King. On February 17, when the ratings again pressed their demand for good food, British officers called them "beggars." This was the last straw.

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Ashish Shukla is an Indian journalist and author who has his new book:"HOW UNITED STATES SHOT HUAMNITY: Muslims Ruined Europe Next" released worldwide. He also runs a website: www.newsbred.com which is antidote to boardroom bulletins that (more...)
 

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