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INDIAN INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT

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ROWLATT ACT

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The Rowlatt Act was a law passed by the British in colonial India in March 1919, indefinitely extending "emergency measures" (of the Defense of India Regulations Act ) enacted during the First World War in order to control public unrest and root out conspiracy. Passed on the recommendations of the Rowlatt Committee , named for its president, British judge Sir Sidney Rowlatt , this act effectively authorized the government to imprison for a maximum period of two years, without trial, any person suspected of terrorism living in the Raj. The Rowlatt Act gave British imperial authorities power to deal with revolutionary activities. Mohandas Gandhi , among other Indian leaders, was extremely critical of the Act and argued that not everyone should be punished in response to isolated political crimes. The Act led to indignation from Indian leaders and the public, which caused the government to implement repressive measures.

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Gandhi and others found that constitutional opposition to the measure was fruitless, so on April 6, a " hartal " was organized where Indians would suspend all business and fast as a sign of their hatred for the legislation. This event is known as the Rowlatt satyagraha . However, the success of the hartal in Delhi , on 30 March, was overshadowed by tensions running high, which resulted in rioting in the Punjab and other provinces. Deciding that Indians were not ready to make a stand consistent with the principle of ahimsa (non-violence), an integral part of satyagraha, Gandhi suspended the resistance. The Rowlatt Act came into effect in March 1919. In the Punjab the protest movement was very strong, and on April 10, two outstanding leaders of the congress, Dr. Satya Pal and Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew , were arrested and taken to an unknown place.

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JALLIANWALA BAGH

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The incident in Jallian Wala Bagh was 'an extraordinary event, a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation" ...Winston Churchill. It started a few months after the end of the first world war when an Englishwoman, a missionary, reported that she had been molested on a street in the Punjab city of Amritsar. The Raj's local commander, Brigadier General Reginald Dyer, issued an order requiring all Indians using that street to crawl its length on their hands and knees. He also authorized the indiscriminate, public whipping of natives who came within lathi length of British policemen. On April 13, 1919, a multitude of Punjabis  gathered in Amritsar's Jallian wala Bagh as part of the Sikh Festival "Baisakhi fair" and to protest at these extraordinary measures. The throng, penned in a narrow space smaller than Trafalgar Square, had been peacefully listening to the testimony of victims when Dyer appeared at the head of a contingent of British troops. Giving no word of warning, he ordered 50 soldiers to fire into the gathering, and for 10 to 15 minutes 1,650 rounds of ammunition were unloaded into the screaming, terrified crowd, some of whom were trampled by those desperately trying to escape.

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"The Indians were 'packed together so that one bullet would drive through three or four bodies'; the people 'ran madly this way and the other. When fire was directed upon the centre, they ran to the sides. The fire was then directed to the sides. Many threw themselves down on the ground, and the fire was then directed on the ground. This was continued for eight or ten minutes, and it stopped only when the ammunition had reached the point of exhaustion" .....Winston Churchill Dyer then marched away, leaving 379 dead and over 1,500 wounded. Back in his headquarters, he reported to his superiors that he had been 'confronted by a revolutionary army,' and had been obliged 'to teach a moral lesson to the Punjab.' In the storm of outrage which followed, the brigadier was promoted to major general, retired, and placed on the inactive list. ''I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself.'' ...... Dyer's response to the Hunter Commission Enquiry General Dyer said he would have used his machine guns if he could have got them into the enclosure, but these were mounted on armoured cars. He said he did not stop firing when the crowd began to disperse because he thought it was his duty to keep firing until the crowd dispersed, and that a little firing would do no good.

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KHILAFAT MOVEMENT

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The Lucknow pact showed that it was possible for middle-class, English-educated Muslims and Hindus to arrive at an amicable settlement on Hindu-Muslim constitutional and political problems. This unity reached its climax during the Khilafat and the Non-Cooperation Movements. After World War I, the Ottoman Empire faced dismemberment. Under the leadership of the Ali Brothers, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Maulana Shaukat Ali, the Muslims of South Asia launched the historic Khilafat Movement to try and save it. Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi linked the issue of Swaraj with the Khilafat issue to associate Hindus with the movement. The ensuing movement was the first countrywide popular movement. The Muslims of India had a strong feeling of identity with the world community of Islam. They had seen the decline in the political fortunes of Islam as the European powers conquered the Muslim lands one after the other. The Anglo-Russian convention of 1908 had reduced their next-door neighbor Iran to a mere dependency. Afghanistan also suffered as it was a bone of contention between Russia and Britain, and was now under the latter's sphere of influence. The general impression among the Muslims of India was that the western powers were waging a war against Islam throughout the world in order to rob it of all its power and influence. The Ottoman Empire was the only Muslim power that had maintained a semblance of authority and the Muslims of India wanted to save the Islamic political power from extinction.

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As an institution, the Khilafat had a checkered past. It had originally migrated from Medina to Damascus and from Damascus to Baghdad. For sometime it was located in Egypt, then it fell to the lot of Turkey, very much as a prize. The Turkish Sultans had claimed to be the caliphs of the Muslim world. As long as the Mughal Empire had been in existence, the Muslims of India had not recognized their claim. At this critical juncture, when the Muslims of the Sub-continent had no sovereign ruler of their own, they began to see the necessity of recognizing the Sultan of Turkey as their caliph. Tipu Sultan was the first Indian Muslim who, having been frustrated in his attempts to gain recognition from the Mughals, had turned to the Sultan of Turkey to establish a legal right to his throne. The European powers had played a leading role in reducing the might of Turkey in Europe to Eastern Thrace, Constantinople and the straits in the Balkan Wars (1912-13). To seek revenge, the Turks decided to side with the Germans against the Allied Forces. The Indian Muslims supported this decision. Muhammad Ali argued that for Muslims to accept mandates over Iraq, Syria and Palestine would amount to a total disregard of the wishes of the Holy Prophet (S. A. W.). Thus the Muslims of India launched the Tehrik-i-Khilafat.

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OBJECTIVE OF KHILAFAT MOVEMENT 1. To maintain the Turkish Caliphate. 2. To protect the holy places of the Muslims. 3. To maintain the unity of the Ottoman Empire.

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NON COOPERATION MOVEMENT

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The independence movement as late as 1918 was an elitist movement far removed from the masses of India, focusing essentially on a unified commerce-oriented territory and hardly a call for a united nation. Gandhi changed all that and made it a mass movement. At the Calcutta session of the Congress in September 1920, Gandhi convinced other leaders of the need to start a non-cooperation movement in support of Khilafat as well as for swaraj (self rule). The first satyagraha movement urged the use of khadi and Indian material as alternatives to those shipped from Britain . It also urged people to boycott British educational institutions and law courts; resign from government employment; refuse to pay taxes; and forsake British titles and honours. Although this came too late to influence the framing of the new Government of India Act 1919 , the movement enjoyed widespread popular support, and the resulting unparalleled magnitude of disorder presented a serious challenge to foreign rule. However, Gandhi called off the movement following the Chauri Chaura incident, which saw the death of twenty-two policemen at the hands of an angry mob. Membership in the party was opened to anyone prepared to pay a token fee, and a hierarchy of committees was established and made responsible for discipline and control over a hitherto amorphous and diffuse movement. The party was transformed from an elite organization to one of mass national appeal and participation.

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Gandhi was sentenced in 1922 to six years of prison, but was released after serving two. On his release from prison, he set up the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad , on the banks of river Sabarmati , established the newspaper Young India , and inaugurated a series of reforms aimed at the socially disadvantaged within Hindu society — the rural poor, and the untouchables This era saw the emergence of new generation of Indians from within the Congress Party, including C. Rajagopalachari , Jawaharlal Nehru , Vallabhbhai Patel , Subhash Chandra Bose and others- who would later on come to form the prominent voices of the Indian independence movement, whether keeping with Gandhian Values, or, as in the case of Bose's Indian National Army , diverging from it. The Indian political spectrum was further broadened in the mid-1920s by the emergence of both moderate and militant parties, such as the Swaraj Party , Hindu Mahasabha , Communist Party of India and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh . Regional political organizations also continued to represent the interests of non- Brahmins in Madras , Mahars in Maharashtra , and Sikhs in Punjab. However, people like Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi , Vanchinathan and Neelakanda Brahmachari played a major role from Tamil Nadu in both freedom struggle and fighting for equality for all castes and communities.

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Salt march

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The Salt March , also known as the Salt Satyagraha began with the Dandi March on March 12, 1930, and was an important part of the Indian independence movement . It was a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India , and triggered the wider Civil Disobedience Movement . This was the most significant organized challenge to British authority since the Non-cooperation movement of 1920–22, and directly followed the Purna Swaraj declaration of independence by the Indian National Congress on January 26, 1930. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (commonly called Mahatma Gandhi) led the Dandi march from his base, Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmedabad , to the sea coast near the village of Dandi . As he continued on this 24 day, 240 mile (390 km) march to produce salt without paying the tax, growing numbers of Indians joined him along the way. When Gandhi broke the salt laws at 6:30 am on April 6, 1930, it sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience against the British Raj salt laws by millions of Indians. [1] The campaign had a significant effect on changing world and British attitudes toward Indian independence [2][3] and caused large numbers of Indians to join the fight for the first time. After making salt at Dandi, Gandhi continued southward along the coast, producing salt and addressing meetings on the way. His group planned to stage a satyagraha at the Dharasana Salt Works, 25 miles south of Dandi. However, Gandhi was arrested on the midnight of May 4–5, 1930, just days before the planned action at Dharasana.

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The Dandi March and the ensuing Dharasana Satyagraha drew worldwide attention to the Indian independence movement through extensive newspaper and newsreel coverage. The satyagraha against the salt tax continued for almost a year, ending with Gandhi's release from jail and negotiations with Viceroy Lord Irwin at the Second Round Table Conference . [4] Over 80,000 Indians were jailed as a result of the Salt Satyagraha. [5] However, it failed to result in major concessions from the British. [6] The Salt Satyagraha campaign was based upon Gandhi's principles of nonviolent protest called satyagraha , which he loosely translated as "truth-force." [7] Literally, it is formed from the Sanskrit words satya , "truth", and agraha , "asking for." In early 1930 the Indian National Congress chose satyagraha as their main tactic for winning Indian independence from British rule and appointed Gandhi to organize the campaign. Gandhi chose the 1882 British Salt Act as the first target of satyagraha. The Salt March to Dandi, and the beating by British police of hundreds of nonviolent protesters in Dharasana, which received worldwide news coverage, demonstrated the effective use of civil disobedience as a technique for fighting social and political injustice. [8] The satyagraha teachings of Gandhi and the March to Dandi had a significant influence on American civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. , and his fight for civil rights for blacks and other minority groups in the 1960s. [9]