The start of 1920s disillusioned many Indians due to the violent events like martial law in Punjab, jallianwala bag massacre by general dyer and the Rowlett bills. The Indian Muslims too were affected as the British had promised fair treatment to turkey after the war but had reneged on it. Furthermore the hunter commission to investigate General Dyer's actions had exonerated him. 

Khilafat Movement

The Treaty of Sevres had completed the dismemberment of turkey and so the khilafat committee formed by Ali brothers Maulana Mohammad Ali and Shaukat Ali and got a recommendation from Gandhiji to start a Satyagraha. The khilafat movement was later merged by Gandhiji with the non cooperation movement.

The congress too agreed to consider non cooperation with the government as it too was disillusioned by the failed promises of reform of Montague Chelmsford committee 1919 [Govt of India act 1919].

Non Cooperation Movement

The movement was launched on 1 august 1920 and the congress too accepted it. The main program was to:

        1.      Surrender titles and honors.

        2.      Boycott government schools, colleges, courts and foreign cloth

Resignation from civil service and non payment of taxes were not covered initially but were kept for later stage.

Strict non violence, Hindu Muslim unity, opening of national schools and panchayats were encouraged to solve disputes in the movement. Revolutionary terrorists groups too agreed to support this movement. A new constitution of congress was made by Gandhiji to attain Swaraj by peaceful means. A working committee, provincial committees and village level participation were introduced.

Educational boycott was very successful. CR Das and SC Bose were at the forefront of the movement in Calcutta. Boycott of courts was less successful. Most successful item was boycott of foreign cloth. A declaration made by Muhammad Ali [khilafat committee] that no Muslim should join the army was treated with contempt by the government and he was arrested. Subsequently all major leaders made the same declarations and the government was forced to ignore this incident.

The movement was however becoming increasingly violent as people targeted the known loyalists of the British. The congress volunteer corps was becoming a parallel police. The government now felt that its policy of ignoring protestors had failed and now started repressions by banning volunteer’s corps and raiding congress and khilafat offices.

The congress now persuaded Gandhiji to start the next phase of the non cooperation that was civil disobedience. Gandhiji petitioned to the Viceroy saying that civil disobedience shall be launched unless the restrictions on civil liberties were removed. This was ignored. Bardoli was chosen by Gandhiji to launch no tax campaign.

Abrupt Cancellation

However before this a procession of khilafat and congress was attacked by police in chauri chuara. The angered mob lit the police station and burnt 22 policemen.

On hearing this Gandhiji decided to withdraw the movement.

Fallout of the Cancellation

Few leaders blamed Gandhiji was unilaterally withdrawing the movement because of a stray incident.

It was argued that Gandhiji had done this for the safety of the property class as they would have to bear the brunt of the civil disobedience movement. Gandhiji was a pro capitalist.

But the reasons might be different like government could crush the civil disobedience movement under the excuse of a single violent incident or the movement was itself ebbing as the masses had no energy left to continue the movement or that one stray incident could have easily spread havoc in other parts or Gandhiji felt that the masses yet didn’t have the readiness for another campaign at such an early stage.

Q.With reference to Rowlatt Satyagraha, which of the following statements is/are correct?
1. The Rowlatt Act was based on the recommendations of the ‘Sedition Committee’
2. In Rowlatt Satyagraha Gandhiji tried to use the Home Rule League
3. Demonstrations against the Simon Commission coincided with the Rowlatt Satyagraha
Select the correct answer using the code given below. (UPSC CSAT 2015)

  • 1 only

  • 1 and 2 only

  • 2 and 3 only

  • 1, 2 and 3

Ans . B

  1. Sedition committee of 1918 suggested it.

  2. Gandhiji tried to use home rule leagues, satyagraha sabhas and pan-islamist groups in this satyagraha.

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