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The Story of the 1946 Indian Naval Mutiny

The Story of the 1946 Indian Naval Mutiny, also called the 1946 Naval Uprising, was an insurrection of Indian naval ratings, soldiers.


The Royal Indian Navy mutiny or revolt, also known as the 1946 Naval Uprising, was an insurrection that took place in India. It involved Indian naval ratings, soldiers, police personnel, and civilians who rebelled against the British government.

The mutiny of the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) commenced on February 18, 1946. In a matter of just five days, it dealt a mortal blow to the entire structure of the British Raj.

History of the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny:

The Marines and the Indian people were organizing the revolt secretly. The entire nation was developing a revolutionary atmosphere. The workers, peasants, and youth of India were inspired to believe that revolt was possible. They saw that by ending British control, they could establish a rule led by peasants and workers. This inspiration was fueled by the strong leadership of the Soviet Union during the Second World War. Conditions for revolt were being established. Indian sailors, soldiers, police officers, and civilians rose in rebellion against the British administration in India. The uprising involved over 20,000 sailors. It initially started in Bombay and later gained support and extended across British India, reaching from Karachi to Calcutta. This included both ships and shore-based establishments, with over 78 ships and establishments being involved. British India lost command of its navy in just 48 hours.

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The newly established Naval Central Strike Committee (NCSC) consisted of twelve to thirty-six members from each of Bombay’s ships and barracks.

M.S. Khan, a senior signalman, and Madan Singh, a junior officer telegraphist, were chosen as president and vice president, respectively.

The troops of the Royal Indian Air Force from Bombay and the loyal Gurkhas of Karachi played a supportive role for the rebels.

They refrained from opening fire on the strikers, further contributing to the sources of support for the uprising. However, despite being so near to independence, the mutiny did not receive favor from the Indian authorities.

The Muslim League and the Indian National Congress both denounced the mutiny after recognizing the political and military consequences it could have on the verge of independence.

The leaders of the Congress were particularly concerned that an armed revolution and its potential negative impact could jeopardize their vision of a peaceful conclusion to the freedom movement and an orderly transfer of power.

Only Aruna Asaf Ali of the INC and the Communist Party of India publicly backed the sailors.

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The RIN revolt:

As a result of the transformed scenario in India after World War II, the revolt of the Royal Indian Navy emerged as the most significant direct anti-imperialist confrontation during the post-war phase.

The ratings of the RIN, having served abroad and gained exposure to the world outside, were deeply resentful of the racist behavior displayed by their English superiors.

Besides, at the same time, there were unrest building up in the country, especially over the INA trials.

On February 18, 1946, the ratings of “Talwar” in Bombay harbor initiated a hunger strike to protest against the inadequate food and racial arrogance they experienced. Additionally, they elected a Naval Committee led by MS Khan and formulated their demands, which encompassed both national issues and their own grievances.

Release of INA prisoners freedom of all other political prisoners.

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Withdrawal of Indian troops from Indo-China and Java

Better food

More civilised treatment

Equal pay for European and Indian Sailors alike

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On February 20th, the ratings in the Barracks were surrounded by armed guards, and their comrades in the ships faced threats of destruction from British members. By February 22nd, the revolt had spread to all naval bases across the country, encompassing 78 ships, 20 shore establishments, and involving 20,000 ratings.

As natural in the electrifying circumstances of 1946, the mutineers evoked unprecedented popular response.

In Karachi, both Hindu and Muslim students and workers staged demonstrations in support of the ratings and engaged in violent clashes with the army and police.

Meanwhile, in Bombay, there were emotional displays of public sympathy towards the ratings. People hailed and supported them, rushing in food supplies, and shopkeepers insisted that the ratings take whatever items they desired.

The Communists, with the support of the Congress Socialists, gave a call for a general strike on 22 February.

Defying the Congress and the League directives to the contrary, 300,000 workers came out of the factories and mills and took to the streets on that day.

On the contrary, Several hundred died in the delirious two days, and thousand suffered injuries.


The Navy Mutiny ended the British Empire’s ambitions in India, putting the final nail in the coffin. The RIN Revolt was one of the factors that accelerated the fall of British authority in India. Leaders realized that any popular uprising necessarily runs the risk of preventing the central government from retaining more power. Additionally, they did not want to encourage indiscipline in the army now that Freedom and authority had been established.

It’s also vital to remember that the uprising came to an end after nationalist leaders Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Sardar Patel demanded the rebels’ surrender and released a statement demanding their submission in response to appeals for British intervention. A meeting was held between Sardar Patel and M. S. Khan, President of the Naval Central Strike Committee (NCSC). It was assured that no one would be punished. In a statement issued on behalf of the Muslim League in Calcutta, Muhammad Ali Jinnah supported Patel’s plea for the strikers to put a halt to their action. The rebels gave up on February 23, 1946. All segments of the Indian population are now more motivated than ever to witness the demise of British rule.

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The Story of the 1946 Indian Naval Mutiny,The Story of the 1946 Indian Naval Mutiny,The Story of the 1946 Indian Naval Mutiny,The Story of the 1946 Indian Naval Mutiny

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