During World War I, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) joined the war in favour of Germany. But Turkey and Germany lost the war and a pact commonly known as Istanbul Accord was formed between the Allied Forces on 3rd November 1918. According to this Pact the territories of Turkey were to be divided among France, Greece and Britain.
During the war the Indian Muslims were in a very awkward position, because they had a deep-rooted devotion to the caliphate. They had profound respect for this holy institution.
Realizing their difficult situation the British PM, Lloyd George declared on 05/01/1918, that the allies “were not fighting to deprive Turkey of the rich and renowned lands of Asia Minor and Thrace which are predominantly Turkish in race”.
These assurances led the Indian Muslims to believe that even after whatever happened, the territorial integrity and independence of Turkey, so far as her Asiatic dominions would be maintained.
However, what happened was different. Thrace was presented to Greece while the Asiatic portions of Turkey passed to England and France. Thus, Turkey was dispossessed of her homelands and the Sultan deprived of all real authority. Indian Muslims regarded this as a great betrayal.
A wave of anger swept across the Muslin World and the Indian Muslims rose against the British Government. Muslim leaders like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Moulana Muhammad Ali Johar, Moulana Shoukat Ali and others reacted against the British Government policy and were put behind the bars.
A Khilafat Committee was soon formed under the leadership of the Ali brothers, Maulana Azad, Hakim Ajmal Khan, and Hasrat Mohani, and a countrywide agitation was organized.
Thus, Muslims organized a mass movement, which came to be known as Khilafat Movement. The aims of this movement were
• To protect the Holy place of Turkey
• To restore the Territories of Turkey
• To restore the Ottoman Empire.
The All-India Khilafat Conference held at Delhi in November 1919, decided to withdraw all cooperation from the Government if their demands were not met.
In December 1919 both the Khilafat Committee and Congress held their meetings simultaneously at Amritsar and a delegation was sent to England under the leadership of Maulana Mohammad Ali Johar to explain the Indian point of view regarding the Khilafat.
However, the delegation returned to India unsuccessful. Therefore, Leaders of Khilafat Committee decided to lauch Khilafat movement.
Mahatma Gandhi saw the Khilafat Movement as a brilliant opportunity to bring together the Hindus and the Muslims and their respective causes against one common authority of exploitation and domination. Gandhiji hence, wholeheartedly supported the Khilafat Movement and himself became a member of the Central Khilafat Committee.
In September 1920, at the Calcutta Session of the Indian National Congress, the programme of the movement was drawn.
The following points were included in it:
• Renunciation of all Government titles.
• Boycott of legislature and court.
• Withdrawal of student’s from educational institutions.
• General civil disobedience.
As a result, hundreds of thousands people returned the titles and stopped sending their children to government schools and colleges. Strikes, demonstrations, and Satyagrahas took place around the country, while ‘Hindu-Musalman ki Jai’ was the famous slogan.
Leaders like of Chitta Ranjan Das and Subhas Chandra Bose spearheaded the education boycott in Bengal. Punjab also responded to the educational boycott and Lala Lajpat Rai played the leading role. Many lawyers, like, C.R. Das, Motilal Nehru, M.R. Jayakar, S. Kitchlew, V. Patel, Asaf Ali Khan and others lived up to the spirit of the movement where they gave up their practices.
The unfortunate tragedy of Chauri Chaura in 5th February, 1922, where a mob of three thousand killed twenty-five policemen and one inspector changed the direction of the movement. Mahatma Gandhi ordered for the suspension of the movement.
The final blow came in 1924 with the victory of Mustafa Kemal Pasha’s forces, who overthrew the Ottoman rule to establish a progressive, secular republic in independent Turkey. He abolished the role of caliph and sought no help from Indians.