Dharsana Salt Satyagrah, a step after Dandi march

Dharsana Salt Satyagrah, a step after Dandi march

After publicly making salt to break the salt law at Dandi on 6 April 1930, Gandhi did not end the Salt Satyagraha. He began popularizing it through speeches across the country.

Dharsana Salt Satyagrah

At Dharasana, another town in Gujarat, salt was production and storage was monopolized by the British. In his style of trying to solve matters with talks first, Gandhi wrote to Lord Irwin, Viceroy of India, telling him of his plans to raid the Dharasana Salt Works on May 4, 1930. The raiders believed that the salt was legitimately owned by the Indian people. So they had planned to “liberate” it from the British hands but under strict nonviolent discipline. But he was immediately arrested for it.

However, the Indian National Congress decided to continue with their plan more intensely now. Before the day itself, many Congress leaders were arrested including Nehru and Sardar Patel.

The march did not stop. Abbas Tyabji, a seventy-six year old retired judge, led it with Gandhi's wife Kasturba at his side. But even they were arrested before reaching Dharasana and were sentenced to three months imprisonment.

After they were arrested, the peaceful agitation continued under the leadership of Sarojini Naidu supported by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. They decided to follow a more confrontational approach.

They encouraged volunteers to try to get through the wire fence of the salt works. Hundreds more resisters were arrested. On May 21 when the protesters tried to pull away the barbed wire which protected the salt pens, the police charged them severely.

Miller's sensational report

American journalist Webb Miller was an eye-witness to this beating of the satyagrahis with steel tipped lathis (sticks). This report became an international sensation. The beating of the protesters disturbed people around the world and generated negative public opinion about Britain’s rule over India.

The Dharasana Satyagraha is an apt example of how violence against nonviolent protesters can backfire for the attackers, even if the latter are right. It became another important episode of the bigger Civil Disobedience Movement.
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