Civil Disobedience Movement Class 8 History Notes Maharashtra State Board
After the resolution of Complete Independence was passed in the Lahore session, Mahatma Gandhi decided to launch the Civil Disobedience Movement. Before beginning this movement, Gandhiji put up various demands in front of the British Government. One of the important demands was to cancel the salt tax and monopoly of the British Government for the manufacture of salt. But because the demands of Gandhiji were rejected by the Government he decided to launch Satyagraha all over India by breaking the salt act.
Salt is an important ingredient in the food of common people. Hence it was unjust to impose tax on an essential commodity like salt. Therefore Gandhiji started the Salt Satyagraha. Salt Satyagraha was symbolic. The extensive objective behind it was to break the oppressive and unjust laws of the British Government through peace and Satyagraha.
Gandhiji chose Dandi, a seashore, in Gujarat to begin the Salt Satyagraha. On 12 March 1930, Gandhiji set out from Sabarmati Ashram with 78 followers to launch the Salt Satyagraha. A distance of approximately 385 km was covered on foot and Gandhiji delivered speeches in the villages on the way. Through their speeches, Gandhiji appealed to the people to be fearless and join the Civil Disobedience Movement. Due to Gandhiji’s speeches message of the Civil Disobedience Movement spread everywhere and a favourable atmosphere was created. On 5 April 1930, Gandhiji reached Dandi. On 6 April Gandhiji broke the Salt Act by picking up the salt lying on the seashore of Dandi and the Civil Disobedience Movement started all over the country.
The Peshawar Satyagraha:
In the North West Frontier, Khan Abdul Gafar Khan was the most loyal follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He was also known as ‘Frontier Gandhi’. He had founded the organization called ‘Khuda-i-Khidmatgar’. On 23 April 1930, he started satyagraha at Peshawar. The town was in the hands of the satyagrahis nearly for a week. The British Government gave orders to the Garhwal regiment to carry out open firing on the Satyagrahis, but Chandrasing Thakur, an officer of the Garhwal Regiment, refused to open fire. He was court-martialled and was given a severe punishment. The British Government found itself in a difficult situation due to the satyagraha launched by Mahatma Gandhi. On 4 May 1930 Gandhiji was arrested. Suppressive measures were undertaken all over the country. There was protest all over the country due to the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi.
The mill workers were at the forefront of the Solapur satyagraha. On 6 May 1930, hartal was observed in Solapur. A huge procession was organized in Solapur. The District Collector gave orders to fire on the procession. Many volunteers along with Shankar Shivdare died in the firing. As a result, people started attacking police stations, railway stations, courts, municipal buildings, etc. The Government declared Martial Law and the agitation was suppressed. Those who took the lead in this movement, such as Mallappa Dhanshetti, Shrikrishna Sarda, Qurban Hussain, and Jagannath Shinde were hanged to death.
The satyagraha at Dharasana in Gujarat was led by Sarojini Naidu. The police lathi-charged the satyagrahis who came forward to break the Salt Act. The satyagrahis silently tolerated the blows of the lathi. When they were taken away for medical aid, another batch of satyagrahis came forward to replace them. This continued endlessly. In Maharashtra, salt satyagraha took place at Wadala, Malvan, and Shiroda. Where there were no salt pans, the forest laws were broken. There were jungle satyagrahas at Bilashi, Sangamner, Kalavan, Chirner, and Pusad in Maharashtra. The tribal people also took part in the satyagraha in large numbers.
Sacrifice of Babu Genu:
In Mumbai, there was agitation against foreign goods. The vehicles transporting foreign goods were obstructed. Babu Genu Said, a mill worker, from Mumbai was at the forefront of this movement. A truck carrying foreign goods, safeguarded by the police, came in front of Babu Genu. To stop the truck he lay down on the road. Police threatened him, but he did not move from his place. Finally, he was crushed under the truck. Babu Genu gained martyrdom. This sacrifice of Babu Genu gave inspiration to the national movement.
Features of the Civil Disobedience Movement:
- All the movements, till now, were limited only to urban areas. But this movement became a nationwide movement. People from rural areas registered their participation.
- Women also took part in large numbers. Kasturba Gandhi, Kamladevi Chattopadhyay, Avantikabai Gokhale, Lilavati Munshi, Hansaben Mehta led the satyagraha.
- This movement was based on complete non-violence. The British Government was trying to greatly suppress the movement, but the people protested unarmed. Due to this, the Indian people became fearless.
Round Table Conference:
In the opinion of British Prime Minister Ramsay Mac Donald, while the Civil Disobedience Movement was going on, the constitutional issues regarding India should be thought over. For this purpose, he organized a conference in London. This conference is known as the ‘Round Table Conference’. In the period between 1930 to 1932, three round table conferences were organized.
First Round Table Conference:
Ramsay MacDonald was the chairman of the Round Table Conference. Representatives of England and India participated in the Conference. These included Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Barrister Jinnah, etc. At the conference, there were discussions on various topics such as Responsible Government at the central level, the establishment of a federal State in India, etc. Representatives of different political parties in India and rulers of Princely states participated in the conference. However, the Indian National Congress did not participate in it. The Indian National Congress was a body that represented the country. Without its participation, the deliberations in the Round Table Conference were indeed meaningless.
The British Prime Minister expressed his hope for the participation of the Indian National Congress in the Second Round Table Conference. Given the appeal made by the Prime Minister, the Viceroy released Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders from prison. Thus, a conducive atmosphere was created for the Congress to discuss the issues freely. A pact was signed between Mahatma Gandhi and Viceroy Irwin which is known as the ‘Gandhi-Irwin Pact’. According to this pact, the British Government assured that the system of Responsible government would be added to the proposed constitution of India. Consequently, the Indian National Congress withdrew from the Civil Disobedience Movement and agreed to attend the Round Table Conference.
Second Round Table Conference:
In 1931, the second round table conference was organized. Mahatma Gandhi attended this conference as a representative of the Indian National Congress. Along with the Indian National Congress, representatives of various castes and communities, political parties as well as princely states were invited. The Government put forth the issue of minorities in the Round Table Conference. There were differences regarding this issue and also regarding the nature of the prospective Federal constitution. Gandhiji tried to bring unanimity in the opinion but was unsuccessful. Finally, Gandhiji became disappointed and returned to India.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar represented the Dalits in the Round Table Conference. He demanded separate electorates for the Dalits. After the Second Round Table Conference, British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald declared ‘Communal Awards’. According to it, Dalits were given separate electorates. Gandhiji went on fast unto death at Yerwada jail protesting against the granting of a separate electorate based on caste. The leaders of the Indian National Congress requested Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar to reconsider the demand for separate electorates. Keeping in mind the interest of the nation Dr.Ambedkar was ready to accept this request. In 1932 Mahatma Gandhi and Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar signed the famous Poona Pact. According to this pact, separate electorates for the Dalits were canceled and a provision for reserved seats was made.
Third Round Table Conference:
In November 1932 the Third Round Table Conference was organised in England. The Indian National Congress boycotted the conference. Thus this conference proved to be futile.
Second Phase of Civil Disobedience Movement:
Gandhiji returned to India from the Second Round Table Conference with a dejected mind. He decided to restart the Civil Disobedience Movement. Gandhiji was immediately arrested. Hence there was discontent among the people. The government responded to this movement by using inhuman oppressive methods. There was strangling of civic rights everywhere. The Indian National Congress and its associated institutions were declared illegal. Restrictions were levied on national newspapers and literature. Finally, in April 1934, Gandhiji withdrew from the movement and the historic phase of the Civil Disobedience Movement came to an end.
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