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Participant recalls 1946 Naval mutiny was peaceful protest

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Chennai, Feb 24 (UNI) What has come to be recorded in history as ''Bombay Naval Mutiny of 1946'' was, in fact, a peaceful non-violent protest against atrocities committed on Indians serving in the then Royal Indian Navy (RIN), according to S A Ananthakrishnan, a participant in the historic event that sounded the last post for the Union Jack in India.

''Naming it a mutiny was the handiwork of the British,'' Ananthakrishnan, who was a Navy rating (sailor) posted on HMIS Khyber at tht time, told UNI.

Incidentally, February 21 was the 60th anniversary of the event that added a significant page to the history of India's freedom movement. The mutiny ended on February 23, 1946.

Mr Ananthakrishnan recalled proudly how the Signals played an important role in spreading 'satyagraha' in all the ships of RIN within seconds.

The 'satyagraha', akin to the hunger strike launched by Gandhiji, was against the high handedness of the British officers who, among other things, served bad food to Indians in RIN and ill-treated them.

Mr Ananthakrishnan said he had flashed messages on the ship's telegraph to other Naval vessels and the movement spread like wildfire. The protest first started at Castle barracks in Bombay (Mumbai).

At that time about seven ships in the Arabian Sea were busy detecting and destroying mines laid by Japanese submarines.

The action of the Indian Navy ratings (sailors) evoked instant public sympathy and support in Bombay. There was a spontaneous general strike all over Bombay in protest against the Imperial British regime.

The messages first originated from HMIS ''Talwar'' and spread to a large number of ships, he recalled.

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