The feeling of nationalism had started growing in the minds of Indians as early as the middle of the nineteenth century but it grew more with the formation of the Indian national Congress in 1885. Though the Congress started on a moderate platform but with the passage of time and apathetic attitude of the British government, the national movement began to shape well. Even the very moderate demands set by the Congress were not met by the British government. This attitude of the British government made people and freedom fighters more restless and attacks against the British Raj increased.
By the first decade of the 20th century the Indian National Congress
grew more skeptic of the British government. This was mainly due to
increase of extremist tendencies among many Congress members. These
extremists criticized the moderate policies of the early Congress
members. This resulted into more attacks on the British power. The
British government on its part continued its "damn care"
attitude. To divide the National movement, the British even played the
divide and rule card, which led to the rise of Muslim League. With
Muslim league on their side the British always tried to stall all the
demands of the Indian National Congress. Though the Congress and the
League came together in 1916 AD but the truce was short lived. By the
1920s the mood of the national movement had become more aggressive. With
Mahatma Gandhi at the helm of affairs the Congress launched many
movements against the British rule.
The first of a series of national movements was the Non-cooperation
movement (1920-1922AD). It was followed by the civil disobedience
movement, after a lull. Though the Congress was in the forefront of the
freedom struggle but there were many other organizations and individuals
who also played important role. The struggle for independence continued
in the 1930s but the real momentum came with the Second World War. The
Indian National Congress began to cooperate with the British government
in their war efforts. The Congress thought that after the war the
British might leave India, but the real intentions of the British became
obvious very soon. The Congress, under the leadership of Gandhi began to
prepare for the "Quit India Movement" in 1942. With the pace
of developments all over the world (after the Second World War), the
British came to realize that it was not possible to rule India any more
and they decided to quit.
On the other hand the Muslim League had vowed for a separate nation,
Pakistan. The league was concerned that a united independent India would
be dominated by Hindus. In the winter of 1945-46 Mohammed Ali Jinnah's
Muslim League members won all thirty seats reserved for Muslims in the
Central Legislative Assembly and most of the reserved provincial seats
as well. In an effort to resolve deadlock between the Congress and the
Muslim League and in order to transfer power "to a single Indian
administration", a three-man Cabinet Mission formed in 1946 which
drafted plans for a "three-tier federation for India."
According to the plan, the region would be divided into three groups of
provinces, with Group A including the Hindu-populated provinces that
would eventually comprise the majority of the independent India. Groups
B and C were comprised of largely Muslim-populated provinces. Each group
would be governed separately with a great degree of autonomy except for
the handling of "foreign affairs, communications, defense, and only
those finances required for such nationwide matters."
The plan, however, did not take into account the fate of a large Sikh
population living in Punjab, part of the B-group of provinces. Although
they did not make up more than two per cent of the Indian population,
the Sikhs had been moving for a separate Punjab of their own, and by
1946 they were demanding a free Sikh nation-state. As leader of the
Muslim League, Jinnah accepted the Cabinet Mission's proposal. However,
when Nehru announced at his first press conference as the reelected
president of Congress that "no constituent assembly could be bound
by any prearranged constitutional formula," Jinnah retraced his
steps and the Muslim League's Working Committee withdrew its consent and
called upon the Muslims to launch direct action in mid-August 1946. This
was followed by a frenzy of rioting between Hindus and Muslims.
In the March of 1947 Lord Mountbatten came to India and recommended a
partition of Punjab and Bengal in the face of civil war. Gandhi was very
opposed to the idea of partition and urged Mountbatten to offer Jinnah
leadership of a united India instead of the creation of a separate
Muslim state. But this arrangement was not acceptable to many
nationalist leaders, including Nehru. In July Britain's Parliament
passed the Indian Independence Act. According to it August 14 and 15
were set for partition of India. Thus came into existence two
independent entities- Indian and Pakistan.