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In images: The anger in India against the Raj-appointed Simon Commission

One controversial moment in India’s fight for freedom from British rule in the 1920s was the arrival of the members of the Indian Statutory Commission in 1928. The India Office Private Papers at the British Library contains some wonderful material documenting this event.

The Indian Statutory Commission was a British commission appointed on November 26, 1927, to enquire into the working of the system of government, the growth of education and the development of representative institutions in British India and to recommend future policy regarding further constitutional reforms. It is often referred to as the Simon Commission after its Chairman Sir John Allsebrook Simon.

Unfortunately, the members of the commission all belonged to the British ruling classes, and the exclusion of Indian members understandable prompted outrage in India, with both Congress and the Muslim League boycotting the commission.

Protest against commission

The commission visited India twice, once in February/March 1928, and again from October 11, 1928, to April 13, 1929, and wherever they travelled there were protest marches. Protestors questioned the commission’s legitimacy and demanded that it leave India.

One particularly striking item in the Private Paper collections relating to these protests is a black flag with the words “Simon Go Back” in white lettering. The flag…

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