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Civil disobedience is the active, professed
refusal to obey certain laws, demands, or
commands of a government, or of an
occupying international power.
Civil disobedience is sometimes, though
not always, defined as being nonviolent
On 31st January 1930, Mahatma Gandhi sent a
letter to Viceroy Irwin stating 11 wide-ranging
demands that involved all classes of the Indian
society. The most stirring of all was the demand
to abolish the Salt Tax.
Salt was something consumed by rich and poor
alike and the Salt Tax and the Government
monopoly on salt production revealed the most
oppressive face of British rule.
Gandhi said that if his demands were not fulfilled
by 11th March, he would launch a Civil
Irwin was unwilling to negotiate and so Gandhiji
started his famous Dandi March with 78
volunteers and walked 240 miles from Sabarmati
to Dandi in 24 days.
On 6th April, he reached Dandi and ceremonially
violated the law, manufacturing salt by boiling
sea water. This marked the beginning of the Civil
People were now asked not only to refuse
cooperation, as they had done during the
Non-Cooperation Movement in 1921-22,
but also break colonial laws.
Thousands of people in different parts of
the country broke the Salt Law and
demonstrated in front of government salt
As the Movement spread, foreign cloth
was boycotted, and liquor shops were
Peasants refused to pay revenue and
chaukidari taxes and village officials
In many places, people violated forest laws
by going into Reserved Forests to collect
wood and graze cattle.
• Worried by the Movement, the colonial
government began arresting Congress leaders
one by one, leading to violent clashes at
• When Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a devout disciple
of Mahatma Gandhi was arrested in April
1930, angry crowds demonstrated in the
streets of Peshawar, facing armoured cars
and police firing. Many were killed.
» When Mahatma Gandhi himself was
arrested, industrial workers in Sholapur
attacked police posts, municipal buildings,
law courts and railway stations – all
structures that symbolized the British rule.
» A frightened government responded with
brutal repression, Peaceful Satyagrahis were
attacked, women and children were beaten
up and about 1,00,000 people were arrested.
ø In such a situation, Gandhiji decided to call
off the Movement and entered into a pact
with Irwin on 5th March 1931.
ø He agreed to participate in the Second Round
Table Conference in London and the
Government agreed to release the political
ø Gandhiji went to London for the Conference,
but the negotiations broke down and he
* When he came back to India, Gandhiji
discovered that Jawaharlal Nehru and Ghaffar
Khan were both in jail.
* The Congress had been declared illegal, and a
series of measures had been imposed to
prevent meetings, demonstrations and
* Gandhiji relaunched the Civil Disobedience
Movement. For over a year, the movement
continued, but by 1934, it lost its momentum.