UPSC Exam Preparation: This Day in History – Jan 04

4 January 1932

Mahatma Gandhi arrested following the start of the second civil disobedience movement.

What happened?

On 4 January 1932, Mahatma Gandhi was arrested after the Congress Party had decided to resume a civil disobedience movement in the wake of emergency measures imposed by the British government in the form of a series of Viceroy’s ordinances.


  • The Second Round Table Conference had taken place in September – December 1931 at London.
  • The conference was not a success since there were differences within the Indian camp and no serious outcome was obtained. While the INC claimed to represent all Indians, other parties objected to this claim. There were also great differences between Gandhi and B R Ambedkar on the issue of separate minority electorates. A resolution was obtained in this matter through the Poona Pact.
  • The conference was concluded on 1 December 1931 and Gandhi then informed the British that the phase of negotiations was done with.
  • In India, trouble started brewing in the form of various declarations by regional congress committees of starting satyagraha and protests against the government. The government, in turn, started issuing many regressive measures especially in the Northwest Frontier Province, Bengal and the United Provinces.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru was ordered by the District Magistrate of Allahabad not to leave the city. He naturally did not comply with the order and left the city to Bombay in order to meet Gandhi who was due to arrive there from London. Nehru was promptly arrested before he reached Bombay and sent to Nani prison. He was tried and sentenced to 2 years rigorous imprisonment.
  • Gandhi arrived in India and informed the government that peace could be restored only if all the regressive civil martial law-like provisions were removed. He was arrested on 4 January. Within 5 – 6 days, all national leaders were behind bars. The INC was declared illegal.
  • The INC had planned the second phase of the civil disobedience movement in the first week of January. The plan was a hastily-drawn one with no real intent. The plan was to boycott foreign clothes, picket liquor shops and disobey laws that were considered immoral.
  • The congress workers were also asked to non-violently raid buildings that belonged to the party but were now confiscated and occupied by the government, and to raise the national flag there. They were also asked to observe fasts on the 4th of every month as this was the day the movement officially began when Gandhi was detained.
  • However, there were minor communal riots in May in Bombay where Muslim shopkeepers were asked not to cooperate with the congress by the Muslim League leaders.
  • The government crushed the movement ruthlessly and swiftly. The Red Shirts in the North-western Frontier Province were humiliated. In the absence of leaders and in the face of ruthless suppression by the authorities, the movement faded.
  • In May 1933, the movement was suspended and in May 1934, it was withdrawn.
Also on this day

1643: Birth of great physicist and astronomer Isaac Newton. 1948: Burma became independent from the United Kingdom. 1965: Death of celebrated British writer and poet TS Eliot.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

Also read: