The Khudai Khidmatgar, led by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, were a group of Muslims committed to the removal of British rule through non-violent methods.
On 23 April 1930, Ghaffar Khan was arrested after a speech urging resistance to the foreign rule. After that, more Khudai Khidmatgar leaders were arrested. A large number of Khudai Khidmatgar members gathered at Qissa Khwani Bazaar bazaar in Peshawar to protest.
As British Indian troops moved into the bazaar, the crowd was loud and stones were thrown. After that two British armored cars drove into the square at high speed, killing several people.
It is claimed that the crowd continued their commitment to non-violence, offering to disperse if they could gather their dead and injured, and if British troops left the square.
The British troops refused to leave, so the protesters remained with the dead and injured. At that point, the British ordered troops to open fire with machine guns on the unarmed crowd.
The Khudai Khidmatgar members willingly faced bullets, responding without violence. Instead, many members repeated ‘God is Great’ and clutched the Quran as they went to their death.
The exact number of deaths remains controversial— official figures give 20 dead while nationalist sources claimed several hundred were killed, with many more wounded.
In response, the movement began involving young women in its struggle against the British, a decision in line with tactics adopted by revolutionaries across the undivided India. Women were able to move undetected with more ease than men.
British also adopted their tactic of sowing divisions on religious grounds in the North-West Frontier Province as well, in an attempt to weaken the Khudai Khidmatgar.
In a move that surprised the British government, in August 1931, the Khudai Khidmatgar aligned themselves with the Congress party, forcing the British to reduce the violence they were perpetrated on the movement.