Do or Die
The scene opens with Nehru being taken to the Ahmadnagar Fort jail. The time is September 1939 and World War ll is about to begin. The Congress has laid down dual policy in regard to the War. There is opposition to Fascism, Nazism and Japanese militarism, but also an emphasis on freedom for India. Nehru reiterates that only a free India could take proper part in such warfare.
The scene swiftly switches to 7th August, 1942 in Mumbai where the All-India Congress Committee considered and debated in public, what has since come to be known as the 'Quit India Resolution'. The resolution was finally passed late in the evening of 8th August 1942. a few hours later, in the early morning of 9th, a large number of leaders were arrested all over the country. The song-and-dance sequence shows how the German 'fiends' are coming and the British 'conines' are about to flee with tail curled under their legs!
In a nerve-centre of popular resistance, Ballia, discussions are on among minor leaders on arrangements for Gandhi's impending visit to nearby Banaras and making the non-violence movement a success, when news arrives of Gandhi's arrest on 9th August. There is immense public resentment expressed through the call of Ballia 'Bandh' Gandhi is removed to an unknown destination and the populace resolve to 'Do or Die' against this miscarriage of justice, in a non-violent manner, by holding strike in Ballia. The police are flabbergasted as the number of people in the procession far outnumber the available bullets! Defying the power of the Establishment, people sing: Vijayee Vishwa Tiranga Pyara… Barricades are put to obstruct rail lines. Every compartment carries Congress-flags and the slogan 'VandeMataram' rends the air. The local English ADM negotiates with jailed mass-leader, Radhamohan Singh with an offer of freedom, provided, they pacify the Ballia crowds. The brave response is : today Ballia is burning, tomorrow England will!
The situation worsens and the authorities concede that the Ballia is out of control and the jail-gates are thrown open to free political prisoners.
Nehru summarises that after prominent leaders were suddenly removed, no one seemed to know what should be done. Protests were spontaneous, and reactions were extraordinarily widespread both in towns and villages. It was remarkable how British authority ceased to function over areas, both rural and urban. This happened in Bihar and Bengal, and the whole district Ballia, had to be 're-conquered'.
Nehru is released from the mountain prison of Almora on 15 June 1945, and walks out to the jubilant crowd sloganeering lustily: Mahatma Gandhi zindabad! Karenge Ya Marenge!