Discuss the Salt March to make clear why it was an effective symbol of resistance against colonialism.

Mahatma Gandhi found in salt a powerful symbol that could unite the nation.

  • The Salt March started from Gandhi’s ashram in Sabarmati to Dandi, a coastal town located in the state of Gujarat.
  • The Salt March was over a distance of 240 miles.

Development of Events – Salt March and Civil Disobedience Movement

  • Mahatma Gandhi sent a letter to Viceroy Irwin mentioning eleven demands, on 31 January 1930.
  • Some demands were specific demands of different classes from peasants to industrialists, other demands were more general in nature.
  • To make sure that everyone could be brought together in a united campaign, wide ranging demands were placed by Mahatma Gandhi, this was done to make sure that all classes within Indian society could identify with them
  • Abolition of salt tax was the most notable and important demand made by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Salt was one of the most vital ingredients while preparing food. 
  • Mahatma Gandhi revealed that government monopoly over production of salt and salt tax was the most oppressive measure of British rule.
  • Mahatma Gandhi stated in the letter that if the demands were not fulfilled by March 11, a Civil Disobedience Campaign would be launched by the Congress.
  • Lord Irwin was not keen on negotiations.
  • So, Mahatma Gandhi, accompanied by 78 of his trusted volunteers, started his most famed Salt March.
  • Everyday, the volunteers walked for a distance of around 10 miles. The total days taken to cover the March was 24 days
  • Thousands of people came to hear Mahatma Gandhi speak, wherever he stopped.
  • Mahatma Gandhi told people to peacefully defy the British and explained to them the meaning of Swaraj.
  • Mahatma Gandhi reached Dandi on April 6.
  • Mahatma Gandhi manufactured salt by boiling sea water, and ceremonially broke the British law.
  • This event marked the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • Thousands of people demonstrated in front of the salt factories.
  • Thousands of people across the country manufactured salt and broke the salt law.
  • Village officials resigned, Peasants refused to pay chaukidari taxes and revenue.
  • Forest laws were violated by the forest people in many places.
  • The British Colonial government was very apprehensive about the developments and they went around arresting congress leaders.
  • All these led to violent protests by people across the nation.
  • The response of the British Colonial Government was brutal. Women and children were beaten, they carried out attacks on Peaceful satyagrahis, lakhs of people were arrested.
  • As the events turned violent, Gandhi called off the protests and on 5th March 1931, Gandhi entered into a pact with Irwin and agreed to attend the Round Table Conference in London.

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