Maritime History Society photo exhibition tells the tale of 1946 Royal Indian Navy mutiny | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Maritime History Society photo exhibition tells the tale of 1946 Royal Indian Navy mutiny

Mar 16, 2024 08:20 AM IST

Ratings in other parts of the country, like Karachi, and those posted in Aden and Bahrain also joined the revolt. But it didn’t stay restricted to the navy; civilians who were reeling under British occupation also joined in, till 20,000 people were involved

Mumbai: Documenting the lesser-known Royal Indian Naval Uprising of 1946, which hastened India’s independence by a year, is a photo exhibition by the Maritime History Society (MHS) on view till March 18 in the Army & Navy building in Fort. The exhibition unearths the archives of the MHS, digging into its newspaper stores, photo albums, historic documents, and other external sources to stitch together the story of the ‘Last War of Independence.’

Mumbai,India. Mar 15,2024 :Photo exhibition of Naval Uprising to National Uprising the last war of Independence at Army-Navy building, Kalaghada in South Mumbai Mar 15,2024 (Photo by Raju Shinde/HT Photo)
Mumbai,India. Mar 15,2024 :Photo exhibition of Naval Uprising to National Uprising the last war of Independence at Army-Navy building, Kalaghada in South Mumbai Mar 15,2024 (Photo by Raju Shinde/HT Photo)

Beginning with the ratings (officers and sailors) of the Royal Indian Navy in Bombay on February 18, 1946, the uprising lasted a mere five days but spread far and wide, at various places in the country but also beyond, in places like Aden, Yemen and Bahrain.

Now catch your favourite game on Crickit. Anytime Anywhere. Find out how

“Information about the Royal Indian Naval uprising is very scattered. Outside of school textbooks there are few who know about it, despite it playing a decisive part in the history of our country’s independence,” said Sarah Barboze, staff assistant, in charge of archives and collection at the MHS. “So, four researchers and I set to the task of setting the events of the uprising in order, putting a chronology to it.”

The uprising, Barboze explains, started aboard the training ship HMIS Talwar. One rating, given stale food, complained of a stomach ache. Instead of medical attention, the British subjected him to brutal sunlight for two hours which resulted in his death.

This was the last thread for the ratings. Recruited by the British into the navy to fight wars for them, they were initially lured in with the promise of a good life. The reality turned out to be quite the contrary; while fighting in the Battle of Somme, the Battle of Atlantic, and World War I and II, their living conditions, accommodation, clothes, food, and salaries were poor. To make matters worse, there was heavy racial discrimination.

The rating’s death sparked anger. Other ratings, prominently BC Dutt and MS Khan, started a strike on the ship, and when they disembarked, got the support of ratings on other ships. 1,500 ratings would walk out of the mess hall in defiance.

“News spread around through newspapers,” adds Barboze. “Ratings in other parts of the country, like Karachi, and those posted in Aden and Bahrain also joined the revolt. But it didn’t stay restricted to the navy; civilians who were reeling under British occupation also joined in, till 20,000 people were involved. approximately 300 died, although due to incomplete documentation, we can’t give a reliable number.”

The photo exhibition depicts the various parts of the life of this uprising; from photos of the living conditions of the ratings, to newspaper clippings documenting it, with headlines of ‘Bombay in Revolt: City a battlefield,’ and ‘Nightmare grips Bombay.’ Violence from both sides erupted on the streets of the city, one of the spots being Girgaon. Stones were thrown, weapons used, trains burnt, and commercial establishments shut. “We also have a photo of the dead laid down on the street, as well as the demands of the ratings,” said Barboze.

The uprising did not last long. Worried that the violence would delay independence, the leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhai Patel called it off. The prime 450 ratings involved were arrested and later released, although they lost their positions in the navy. An inquiry commission was set up to study the uprising. Eventually, after Independence, the conditions the ratings were subjected to improved, as they became a part of the Indian Navy.

“We were supposed to get Independence initially in August 1948. But this uprising showed a clear indication that not just the civilians but also the armed sources were against their colonial powers. It led to the end of British supremacy as their stronghold were the forces, and they were compelled to leave India sooner,” ended Barboze, adding that a short film made by MHS and the Indian Navy on the Royal Indian Naval uprising is also showing at the exhibition.

Get World Cup ready with Crickit! From live scores to match stats, catch all the action here. Explore now!

Stay updated with all the Breaking News and Latest News from Mumbai. Click here for comprehensive coverage of top Cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, and more across India along with Stay informed on the latest happenings in World News.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, June 21, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On