Salt Satyagraha

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The Satyagraha March, which triggered the wider Civil Disobedience Movement, was an important part of the Indian independence movement. It was a campaign of nonviolent protest against the British salt tax in colonial India which began with the Salt March to Dandi on March 12, 1930. It was the most significant organized challenge to British authority since the Non-cooperation movement of 1920-22, and the Purna Swaraj declaration of independence by the Indian National Congress on December 31, 1929. Mahatma Gandhi led the Dandi march from his Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, Gujarat to produce salt without paying the tax, with growing numbers of Indians joining him along the way. When Gandhi broke the salt laws in Dandi at the conclusion of the march on April 6, 1930, it sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience against the British Raj salt laws by millions of Indians.[1] Gandhi was arrested on May 5, 1930, just days before his planned raid on the Dharasana Salt Works. The Dandi March and the ensuing Dharasana Satyagraha drew worldwide attention to the Indian independence movement through extensive newspaper and newsreel coverage. The satyagraha against the salt tax continued for almost a year, ending with Gandhi's release from jail and negotiations with Viceroy Lord Irwin at the Second Round Table Conference.[2] Over 80,000 Indians were jailed as a result of the Salt Satyagraha.[3] The campaign had a significant effect on changing world and British attitudes toward Indian independence[4][5] and caused large numbers of Indians to actively join the fight for the first time. However, it failed to result in major concessions from the British.[6] The Salt Satyagraha campaign was based upon Gandhi's principles of nonviolent protest called satyagraha, which he loosely translated as "truth-force."[7] (Literally, it is formed from the Sanskrit words satya, "truth", and aagraha, "asking for." ) In early 1930 the Indian National Congress chose satyagraha as their main tactic for winning Indian independence from British rule and appointed Gandhi to organize the campaign. Gandhi chose the 1882 British Salt Act as the first target of satyagraha. The Salt March to Dandi, and the beating by British police of hundreds of nonviolent protesters in Dharasana, which received worldwide news coverage, demonstrated the effective use of civil disobedience as a technique for fighting social and political injustice.[8] The satyagraha teachings of Gandhi and the March to Dandi had a significant influence on American civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., and his fight for civil rights for blacks and other minority groups in the 1960s.[9]

Mass civil disobedience

Gandhi at a public rally during the Salt Satyagraha.

Ghaffar Khan with Mahatma Gandhi.‎
Mass civil disobedience spread throughout India as millions broke the salt laws by making salt or buying illegal salt.[16] Salt was sold illegally all over the coast of India. A pinch of salt made by Gandhi himself sold for 1,600 rupees (equivalent to $750 dollars at the time). In reaction, the British government incarcerated over sixty thousand people by the end of the month.[43] What had begun as a Salt Satyagraha quickly grew into a mass Satyagraha.[45] British cloth and goods were boycotted. Unpopular forest laws were defied in the Maharashtra, Carnatic (now Karnataka), and Central Provinces. Gujarati peasants refused to pay tax, under threat of losing their crops and land. In Midnapore, Bengalis took part by refusing to pay the chowkidar tax.[46] The British responded with more laws, including censorship of correspondence and declaring the Congress and its associate organizations illegal. None of those measures slowed the civil disobedience movement.[47] In Peshawar, satyagraha was led by a Muslim Pashto disciple of Gandhi, Ghaffar Khan, who had trained a 50,000 member army of nonviolent activists called Khudai Khidmatgar.[48] On April 23, 1930, Ghaffar Khan was arrested. A crowd of...
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