Royal Indian Naval Mutiny @ 1946 @ India

This was a debate topic which started off with obvious conclusions of considering each event during India freedom struggle as justified movement towards attaining freedom for India , but technical details presented by the opposing groups did hold merit on multiple ground !

What was Royal Indian Navy(RIN) Mutiny

The Royal Indian Navy Mutiny (RIN) or also called as Royal Indian Navy Revolt began at Bombay harbor on 18 February 1946 by Ratings (non-commissioned officers and sailors) against the British. RIN soon spread to other parts of British India. Between 10000 – 20000 sailors came to be involved in the mutiny which was suppressed by the British using force.

How did this start?

  • The Royal Indian Navy Mutiny started as a strike by ratings (a designation for a sailor subordinate to officers) demanding better food and accommodation.
  • On 19 February a Naval Central Strike committee was formed with Leading Signalman Lieutenant M.S. Khan and Petty Officer Telegraphist Madan Singh elected as president and vice-president respectively.
  • The strikers were inspired by the INA trials and the persona of Subhas Chandra Bose. Soon, the strike evolved into open revolt with many cities joining the Bombay sailors. Sailors from Karachi, Calcutta, Poona,  Vizag, Cochin, Madras, Mandapam and the Andaman Islands joined involving 66 ships and shore establishments.
  • Ratings were not obeying their officers and they conducted demonstrations in the city of Bombay leaving their posts.

Reasons For considering them as freedom fighters

  • Because of this event, the British knew that their time in India was over as this showcased the power of united India.
  • This was just a small demonstration. imagine what would happen when the whole India unites.
  • But just because no political figure from India joined (causing its failure) does not mean that  they deserved to be court marshalled. Their leaders should have been treated as freedom fighters and heroes. Yet there are no records of them showing they were released after independence too. No one deserves such treatment for an heroic act do they?

Reasons for considering them to be court marshalled

Should they have been court martialed ?

  • Yes, and that was obvious. Discipline is needed in any army. Hence, deciding to join the navy, they should have thought about it. Losing discipline and revolting made them rebels, and lawfully leading to punishment.

Law ? What law

  • It is so that, a person who is found guilty of attempted mutiny,  or failure to suppress or report a mutiny shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial

But this got us Independence, didn’t it ?

  • Well, this movement alone didn’t lead to independence; there were many other movements that triggered the British to leave.
  • They could have kept calm, followed the rules and have a slow and quiet role with the help of political leaders