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Indian History

Centenary of the Chauri Chaura Incident

  • 05 Feb 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

On the occasion of the centenary of the Chauri Chaura incident, a postage stamp was released by the Prime Minister.

  • Chauri Chaura is a town in Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • On 4th February, 1922, this town witnessed a violent incident - a large crowd of peasants set on fire a police station that killed 22 policemen. Due to this incident Mahatma Gandhi called off the Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-22).

Key Points

  • Background (Launch of the Non-Cooperation Movement):
    • On 1st August, 1920, Gandhi had launched the Non-Cooperation Movement against the government.
      • It involved using swadeshi and boycott of foreign goods, especially machine made cloth, and legal, educational and administrative institutions, "refusing to assist a ruler who misrules".
    • In the winter of 1921-22, volunteers of the Congress and the Khilafat Movement were organised into a national volunteer corps.
      • Khilafat Movement was a pan-Islamic force in India that arose in 1919 in an effort to salvage the Ottoman caliph as a symbol of unity among the Muslim community in India during the British raj.
      • The Congress supported the movement and Mahatma Gandhi sought to conjoin it to the Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • Details of the Chauri Chaura Incident:
    • On 4th February, volunteers congregated in the town, and after the meeting, proceeded in a procession to the local police station, and to picket the nearby Mundera bazaar.
      • The police fired into the crowd killing some people and injuring many volunteers.
      • In retaliation, the crowd proceeded to set the police station on fire.
      • Some of the policemen who tried to escape were caught and battered to death. A lot of police property, including weapons, was destroyed.
  • Reaction of the British:
    • The British Raj prosecuted the accused aggressively. A sessions court quickly sentenced 172 of the 225 accused to death. However, ultimately, only 19 of those convicted were hanged.
  • Reaction of Mahatma Gandhi:
    • He condemned the crime of the policemen's killing. The volunteer groups in nearby villages were disbanded, and a Chauri Chaura Support Fund was set up to demonstrate "genuine sympathy" and seek atonement.
    • Gandhi decided to stop the Non-Cooperation Movement, which he saw as having been tainted by unforgivable violence. He bent the Congress Working Committee to his will, and on 12th February, 1922, the satyagraha (movement) was formally suspended.
  • Reaction of Other National Leaders:
    • Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders leading the Non-Cooperation movement were shocked that Gandhiji had stopped the struggle when the civil resistance had consolidated their position in the freedom movement.
    • Other leaders like Motilal Nehru and CR Das recorded their dismay at Gandhi's decision and decided to establish the Swaraj Party.
  • Justification for the Suspension of the Movement:
    • Gandhi on his part, justified himself on grounds of his unshakeable faith in non-violence.
    • Historians such as Bipan Chandra have argued that Gandhian strategy of non-violence was based on the premise that the use of repressive force against non-violent protesters would expose the real character of the colonial state and ultimately put moral pressure on them, but incidents such as Chauri Chaura defeated that strategy.
    • Besides, Bipin chandra opines that withdrawal or shift to a phase of non-confrontation is an inherent part of a strategy of political action that is based on the masses.
  • Immediate Result:
    • The disillusionment resulting from the suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement nudged many of the younger Indian nationalists towards the conclusion that India would not be able to throw off colonial rule through non-violence.
    • It was from the ranks of these impatient patriots that some of India's most of the revolutionaries came into picture like Jogesh Chatterjee, Ramprasad Bismil, Sachin Sanyal, Ashfaqulla Khan, Jatin Das, Bhagat Singh, Bhagwati Charan Vohra, Masterda Surya Sen, and many others.
    • Besides, sudden termination of the Non-Cooperation Movement disillusioned the Khilafat movement leaders that created a rift between Congress and the muslim leaders.

Source: IE

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