Royal Indian Navy Rebellion – Causes and Significance
The Royal Indian Navy Rebellion (RIN), also known as the Royal Indian Navy Revolt, was started on February 18, 1946, at Bombay port by the ratings (NCOs and sailors) against the British. The Rebellion of the Royal Indian Navy began as a ranking strike (referring to sailors subordinate to officers) by the ratings of HMIS Talwar, a beach company, demanding better food and accommodation. It was seen that the Indian seafarers were ill-treated by their British commanders, and there were differences in salary, lifestyle, and working conditions of the workers. It soon spread to other parts of British India, involving 10,000 to 20,000 sailors, who were violently suppressed by the British. This Movement holds an important position in India’s struggle for Independence.
Background of Rebellion:
This happened when Indian nationalist sentiments were at their peak across the country. The three violent outbreaks in the winter of 1945–46:
- Firstly, after the INA tests in Calcutta in November 1945;
- Secondly, in connection with the conviction of INA officer Rashid Ali in Calcutta in February 1946;
- And in the same month – an increase in the uprisings in Bombay.
This chain of events “raised the fever in the political atmosphere”, and the ordinary people soon joined the ratings, and life almost came to a standstill in Bombay and Calcutta with meetings, parades, strikes, strikes. The Communist Party of India and the Bombay Student Union organized a general strike in Bombay, besides this in various cities of India, students boycotted their classes to support the workers. Such an atmosphere ultimately took a brutal shape killing 1000 men and women
Causes of Royal Indian Navy Rebellion:
- Firstly, the rating of HMIS Talwar was subjected to racial discrimination by the British forces. The Indian and the British troops were paid unequal salaries even for the identical designation, which created much resentment among the Indian soldiers.
- Secondly, the ratings were provided with unpleasant food and working conditions, which were hard for them to bear for even a day. It is said that this became the primary reason for the naval mutiny.
- Thirdly, the reason for the RIN strike was the arrest of BC Dutt, who wrote in HMIS Talwar, “Get out of India.” The day after the strike began, the qualifiers traveled to Bombay by truck, flew Congress flags, and European and police officers tried to resist them.
- Fourthly, the primary demand of the protesting sailors demanded the release of all political prisoners arrested over the INA trials, including Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. They even wanted the release of Indian Troops held in Indonesia by the British forces.
Significance of the Mutiny:
- This movement created a sense of fear among the British officials and proved to be an essential movement for the freedom struggle of India. The British realized that the imperialist Indian forces were not very loyal to British orders and aligned with the overall rebellious nationalist sentiment—the whole country.
- Despite the impending sectarian division in the country, the sailors have shown strong unity between religions and regions and also aroused nationalist feelings among the people.
- One of the significant roles of the Movement was that it fought for the release of political prisoners arrested over the INA trials, which mainly is the reflection of their inner intention.
- Army’s support gave the leaders additional support against the Britishers in India’s struggle for Independence. The brave actions of the people were the manifestation of extremism among the masses. The revolt in the armed forces had a profound effect on the minds of the people.
- The Rebellions are usually confined to a specific station, deployment, or ship. However, this was the first time the entire service had joined the rebellion.
- Another distinctive feature of the rebellion was that it was conducted against the British government and not against high-ranking officers – no officer, British or Indian, was injured.
- The public rebellion struck the hearts of the British rulers. They now realized that armed forces, one of the main instruments of maintaining dominance in the subcontinent, could no longer be expected.
- This revolt compelled the Britishers to give a thought to India’s demand for complete Independence. They also started to feel that they could no longer stay in India. As their main strength, the army began to revolt against them.
- Shortly after the uprising, Prime Minister Attlee sent a cabinet mission to India, so it is also speculated that the uprising accelerated handing over power to India.
The RIN mutiny proved to be a final nail on the coffin of British rule. Many reasons contributed to the hastened end of the British rule in India, and RIN Mutiny was one of them. Leaders acknowledged that any public rebellion inevitably risks not allowing the central government further control. Moreover, now that Independence and power had been built up, they did not want to promote indiscipline in the army. It is also important to note that the revolt ended after nationalist leaders Sardar Patel and Mohammad Ali Jinnah issued a statement calling for the rebels’ surrender after receiving requests for British intervention. The riots ended with the mediation of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. On February 23, 1946, the rebels surrendered. This event strengthened the resolve of all sections of the Indian people to see the end of British rule.