Author, Burning for Freedom

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Monday, October 8, 2012

The truth behind the myth of Chauri Chaura (Part I)

Hi, Everyone! It is common knowledge that Gandhi was so pained by the Chauri Chaura incident[1]—this one single incident of violence—that he called off the Noncooperation movement.

This myth has been so much touted that almost no one doubts its veracity. Gandhi is firmly established as the Man of Principles.

This, naturally, would lead one to believe that the Noncooperation Movement was unassociated with any violence until the Chauri Chaura incident.

One would be very wrong!

·        In justification of his stance on the Chauri Chaura incident Gandhi has said:

“I personally can never be party to a movement half violent and half non-violent, even though it may result in the attainment of so-called swaraj, for it will not be swaraj as I have conceived it.”[2]

(I shall be writing a special post on what Gandhi conceived by swaraj exactly—though the Gandhi quotes in my Kheda posts should have given readers an idea already! All through the year of the Noncooperation Movement, Gandhi had kept the Congress hanging by not defining this.)

·        And yet, as is shown below, Gandhi swallowed many instances of violence throughout the Noncooperation Movement.

Some instances of violence of the Noncooperation Movement:

Gandhi could hardly have failed to know of the true character of the National Volunteers organization of the Noncooperation Movement. R. C. Majumdar records in his History of the Freedom movement of India (to be referred to as H of F M of I henceforth), Volume III:

Page 106:

 “Though pledged to non-violence their [the National Volunteers] activities were described by the Government as subversive of order and discipline. ‘Attempts to usurp functions of police, intimidation and use violence to enforce hartals and social and commercial boycott, or under guise of swadeshi or temperance movements in order to impair authority of Government and terrorize political opponents, have been prominent features of their recent activities’.”

The overall tone of the noncooperation movement was not nonviolent, either.

Ibid; page 121:

“The activity of the non-cooperation party redoubled. . . . Hostility to Government increased, encouraging the tendency towards general lawlessness. The volunteer movement became more formidable: intimidation was freely practiced and the police were molested in the exercise of their duty.”

However, the most horrendous case of violence in the Noncooperation Movement is the Moplah riots.

Follow tomorrow’s post.

Mahatma Gandhi Facts: Gandhi Revealed


[1] A sub-inspector in Chauri Chaura had assaulted protesters of the Nonviolent Movement at Mundera Bazar. On February 5, 1922, protesters assembled before the police station in Chauri Chaura demanding an explanation from the guilty official. The police opened fire on them …! When they had exhausted all their ammunition they locked themselves up inside the police station and refused to come out. The maddened protesters then set fire to the police station. The police remained inside the burning building and were burned to death.
[2] The collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume 22; page 351.

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