Salt Satyagraha was one of the major non-violent protests in the history of India’s freedom struggle. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, the protest started around March-April 1930 with around 80 people. The purpose of this protest was to protest the salt tax imposed by the British government in India. Soon, the protest gained momentum and the 390 km long journey drew about 50,000 protestors, thereby becoming a watershed event in Indian History. Read this blog to know all about the Salt Satyagraha or the Civil Disobedience Movement.
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About Salt Satyagraha
Salt Satyagraha was declared by the congress party around 1950 that Poorna Swaraj or complete Independence was the sole aim of the freedom struggle. Therefore, 26th January was to be held as the Poorna Swaraj Day and the only means to achieve this would be the civil Disobedience movement.
- Under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi, the first such event was planned and organized. As defiance against the British government, Gandhiji broke the Salt Tax.
- There was a divided public opinion with regards to choosing salt as their medium of protest.
- However, most Indians regarded Gandhiji’s choice of salt as brilliant as it struck a chord with the common people of this country.
- Salt was a commodity required by all Indians. The imposition of salt tax was especially burdensome to the poor in the country.
- Until the salt act of 1882, Indians had been making salt from seawater free of cost. The act gave the British the monopoly over the salt and the power to impose the tax. Violation of the salt act was considered a criminal offence.
- As the salt tax constituted about 8.2% of the British revenue, Gandhiji realized that it would’ve been impossible for the government to ignore it.
Here is all you need to know about the key features of Salt Satyagraha, how it started and the key events in the history of this movement.
- The viceroy of India, Lord Irwin was informed of Gandhi’s plan on 2nd March 1930.
- On 12th March 1920, a group of people was led by Gandhi from Sabarmati Ashram through the villages of Gujrat.
- The march began with 80 of his followers who were instructed to not indulge in any form, of violent activities. After reaching the coast of Dandi, Gandhi broke the salt act by making salt from seawater.
- This historical event was witnessed by a throng of thousands of people.
- Attacking the British government in his speeches and addresses, talked to foreign journalists and wrote articles for newspapers. Gandhi’s desire to push the independence movement into the forefront of world media made him a household name in the west.
- The mass movement was joined by Sarojini Naidu and other illustrious leaders, who along with thousands broke the salt act on 6th April 1930.
Role of Salt Satyagraha in Indian Independence Struggle
Take a look at the highlights of the impact of the Salt March or the Salt Satyagraha.
- The protests led to mass arrests of 60,000 people including Gandhi.
- The civil disobedience movement spread like wildfire across the nation and very soon the people started protesting other taxes like forest laws, chowkidar tax, land tax, etc. this led to the creation of more laws and censorship to suppress the movement.
- Subsequently, the congress party was declared illegal, however, this did not deter the civil disobedience movement.
- Following Gandhi’s feet, S Rajagopalachari led a similar march from Trichy to Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu and K Kelappan led a march in the Malabar region from Calicut to Payyanur. Similar such protests were held in Assam and Andhra Pradesh. Satyagraha was organized in Peshawar and led by Gandhi’s disciple Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan.
- On 21st May 1930, Sarojini Naidu organized and led a massive peaceful non-violent protest against the Dharasana Salt Works. The police lathi-charged and this resulted in the deaths of 2 people with several others being injured. This incident garnered attention from the international media and led to condemnation of British policies in India.
- Shaken by the impact, the British government found it hard to suppress the movement owing to its non-violent nature.
- The three main effects of the movements included 1. This protest garnered international attention. 2. It brought women and depressed classes to the fore. 3. Satyagraha emerged as a potential tool to fight imperialism.
Result of the Movement
This movement led to the formation of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact wherein it was decided that
- The civil disobedience would be ended by the Indians.
- In return, salt would be allowed for domestic use.
- The arrested Indians would be released.
- Gandhi was allowed to attend the second round table conference as an equal.