The Civil Disobedience Movement of 1930
The Civil Disobedience Movement was started by Gandhi on 12th March, 1930 with his famous Dandi March. Together with 78 chosen followers, Gandhi walked nearly 375 Kms from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, a village on the Gujarat sea-coast.
Day after day, newspapers reported his progress, his speeches and the impact on the people. Hundreds of village officials on his route resigned their jobs.
On 6th April, Gandhi Ji reached Dandi, picked up handful of salt and broke the salt law as a symbol of the Indian People’s refusal to live under British-made laws and therefore under British rule. Gandhi Ji declared :
“The British rule in India has brought about moral, material, cultural and spiritual ruination of this great country. I regard this rule as a curse. I am ought to destroy this system of Government. … Sedition has become my religion. Ours is a non-violent battle. We are not to kill anybody but it is our dharma to see that the curse of this Government is blotted out.
The Movement then did spread rapidly. Violation of salt laws all over the country was soon followed by defiance of forest laws in Maharashtra, Karnataka and the central provinces and refusal to pay the rural chaukidari tax in Eastern India.
Everywhere in the country, the people joined hartals, demonstrations and the campaign to boycott foreign goods and to refuse to pay taxes. Lakhs of Indians offered Satyagrah. In many parts of the country, the peasants refused to pay land revenue and rent and had their lands confiscated. A notable feature of the Movement was the widespread participation of women.
Thousands of them left the seclusion of their homes and offered Satyagrah. They took active part in picketing shops selling foreign cloth and liquor. They marched shoulder to shoulder with the men in processions.
The Movement reached the extreme North-western corner of India where the brave and hardy Pathans under the leadership of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, popularly known as the frontier Gandhi, pledged to non-violence and freedom struggle.
Another noteworthy incident occurred in Peshawar where two platoons of Garhwali soldiers refused to open fire on non-violent mass demonstrators. This showed that the nationalism was beginning to penetrate the Indian Army. Similarly, the Movement found an eco in the Eastern most corner of India.
The Government’s reply to the national struggle was an effort to crush it through ruthless repression, including lathi-charges and firing on unarmed crowds of men and women. Over 90 thousand Satyagrahis, including Gandhi were imprisoned.
The Congress was declared illegal. The nationalist press was gagged through strict censorship of news. The police often beat up men just for wearing Khadi or Gandhi caps.
Meanwhile, the British Government summoned in London the first Round Table Conference, the Congress boycotted it.
The Government now made attempts to negotiate an agreement with the Congress so that it would attend the Round Table Conference.
Finally, Lord Irwin and Gandhi Ji negotiated a settlement in March, 1931.
The Government agreed to release those political prisoners who had remained non-violent and conceded the right to make salt for consumption as also the right to peaceful picketing of liquor and foreign cloth shops. The congress suspended the Civil Disobedience Movement and agreed to take part in the second Round Table Conference.
Harshit Saxena – Grade XII C