After the declaration of Poorna Swaraj in 1930, the National Movement leaders had decided to adopt civil disobedience as a tool of protest.
Mahatma Gandhi was authorized by the Congress Working Committee to determine the time, place and issue on which the Civil Disobedience was to be launched.
The 1882 Salt Act prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt. Violation of the act was considered a criminal offence. General Indian population was required to buy heavily taxed imported salt. Therefore, majority of the population living in poverty at that time could not afford expensive salt.
Mahatma Gandhi chose to do this by breaking the salt tax.
Salt Satyagraha began with the Dandi March on March 12, 1930 and was the part of the first phase of the Civil Disobedience Movement.
Mahatma Gandhi led the Dandi march from Sabarmati Ashram to the sea coast near the village of Dandi. In this journey of 24 days and covering a distance of 390 kilometer, thousands of people joined him.
The youngest Satyagrahi who accompanied him was 16-year-old Vittal Liladhar Thakkar, a student from Gujarat, while the Mahatma himself was the oldest.
On April 6, 1930, 61-year-old Mahatma Gandhi picked up a lump of salt and proclaimed, “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.”
The Government came into action by putting the law breakers in jails and suppressing them by police firings, lathi charge and other means. 60 Thousand people were arrested in less than one year. Those who did not pay taxes, the properties were confiscated. Gandhi and all important leaders were arrested and placed behind the bars.
Leaders like Sarojini Naidu continued the movement where they had to suffer police brutality. The Satyagraha continued for a year until Gandhi was released from jail.
Finally, Gandhi was released in January 1931 and began negotiations with Lord Irwin regarding the Satyagraha. Gandhi-Irwin pact was signed on 5th March 1931, this led Gandhi to attend the second round table conference in London.
The dandi was not the original destination planned for the end of the march. The original destination was somewhere around Borsad, where they had access to sea water. When Gandhi reached the destination, they analyzed that the movement is just gaining momentum and it is necessary to keep it running till it gains enough momentum and international exposure.
They extended the march upto Dandi, and the trick was successful. The march gained acclamation from india and abroad. They just bought themselves enough time for the movement to mature.
Titusji was the only Christian among the 78 marchers selected by Mahatma Gandhi to take part in the 1930 Dandi March, to break the salt law. He served as governing secretary for Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram milk project near Ahmedabad.
With the Satyagrahis spending most of their waking hours walking through villages, the food that they ate was simple. The Lily Biscuit Company in Calcutta had offered a consignment of biscuits, but Gandhi had politely said no as it would be “a luxury”.
Eventually, as they started making salt, the first packet prepared by Kamaladevi was auctioned for the sum of Rs 501. The ‘Salt Satyagraha’ then went on for days in Bombay.
Civil Disobedience Movement:
The act of making salt was a symbol of the Indian people’s refusal to live under British-made laws or under the British rule.
The movement now spread rapidly. Everywhere in the country, people joined strikes, demonstrations, and the campaign to boycott foreign goods and to refuse to pay taxes.
The movement reached the extreme north-western corner of India and stirred the brave and hardy Pathans.
Under the leadership of Khan Abdul Ghaffer Khan, popularly known as “the Frontier Gandhi”, the Pathans organized the society of Khudai Khidmatgars (or Servants of God), known popularly as Red Shirts.
In Bihar, anti-Chowkidara tax campaign was initiated where villages refused to pay protection money to the (chowkidars) local guards who supplemented the merger police forces in the rural areas. Rajendra Prasad took part in the anti- Chowkidara tax campaigns in Bihar.
In Gujarat, a no-tax movement took place against payment of land revenue. This was most visible in Kheda, Surat and Broach districts. Sardar Patel led the no-tax campaign in the Kheda district.
Defiance of forest laws took place on a large scale in Maharashtra, Karnataka and the Central Provinces, especially in areas with large tribal populations.
In Assam, a powerful agitation led by was launched against the students “Cunningham circular’ which forced students and their guardians to furnish assurances of good behaviour.
In U.P, a no-revenue, no-rent campaign was organized against the government which soon turned into a no-ren campaign against the zamindars.
Manipur produced a brave heroine i.e. Rani Gaidinliu who at the age of 13 responded to the call of Gandhiji and the Congress and raised the banner of rebellion against foreign rule.
Women and students participated in the movement on a large scale and it was a liberating experience for Indian women who entered the public space in such large numbers for the first time.
Women, young mothers, widowed and unmarried girls, played an important role in the picketing of liquor shops and opium dens and stores selling foreign cloth.
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