Timeline History

Salt March to Dandi

The Salt Satyagraha, also known as the Salt March to Dandi, was an act of protest against the British salt tax in Colonial India. Mahatma Gandhi walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, Gujarat to get himself some salt, and large numbers of Indians followed him. The British could do nothing because Gandhi did not incite others to follow him in any way. The march lasted from March 12 to April 6, 1930.
In an effort to amend the salt tax without breaking the law, on March 2, 1930 Gandhi wrote to the Viceroy, Lord Irwin: "If my letter makes no appeal to your heart, on the eleventh day of this month I shall proceed with such co-workers of the Ashram as I can take, to disregard the provisions of the Salt Laws. I regard this tax to be the most iniquitous of all from the poor man's standpoint. As the Independence movement is essentially for the poorest in the land, the beginning will be made with this evil."
On March 12, 1930, Gandhi and approximately 78 male satyagrahis set out, on foot, for the coastal village of Dandi, Gujarat, some 240 miles from their starting point in Sabarmati, a journey which was to last 23 days. Virtually every resident of each city along this journey watched the great procession, which was at least two hundred miles in length. On April 6th, Gandhi raised a lump of mud and salt (some say just a pinch, some say just a grain) and declared, "With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire." He then boiled it in seawater to make the commodity which no Indian could legally produce—salt.
He implored his thousands of followers to begin to make salt wherever, along the seashore, "was most convenient and comfortable" to them. A "war" on the salt tax was to be continued during the National Week, that is, up to the thirteenth of April. There was also a simultaneous boycott of British made cloth/goods. Salt was sold, "illegally", all over the seacoast of India. A pinch of salt from Gandhi himself sold for 1,600 rupees, perhaps $750 dollars at the time. In reaction to this, the British government had incarcerated over sixty thousand people at the end of the month.
In Peshawar the satyagraha was led by a Muslim Pashto disciple of Gandhi's, Ghaffar Khan. Ghaffar Khan had trained an army of non-violent activists, called Khudai Khitmatgar. On April 23, 1930, Ghaffar Khan was arrested. A crowd of Khudai Khitmatgar gathered in Peshawar's Kissa Khani [Storytellers] Bazaar. The British opened fire on the unarmed crowd and shot hundreds of Khudai Khitmatgar and other demonstrators. One British Indian Army regiment refused to fire at the crowds. According to some accounts, the crowd acted in accord with their training in non-violence. As people in the front fell, those behind came forward to expose themselves to the firing. The shooting continued from 11 AM until 5 PM.
On the night of May 4th, Gandhi was sleeping in a cot under a mango tree, at a village near Dandi. Several ashramites slept near him. Soon after midnight the District Magistrate of Surat drove up with two Indian officers and thirty heavily-armed constables. He woke Gandhi by shining a torch in his face, and arrested him under a regulation of 1827.

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