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Chauri-Chaura 1922

Chauri-Chaura 1922. Town near Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. February 4, 1922. Around 2000 protestors gathered for picketing of the liquor shop at the local market in Chauri-Chaura (Gandhi advocated temperance- lots of trees cut down in this cause). Sensing trouble (or looking for it depending on your take) armed policemen were sent to keep order. Crowd march towards market shouting anti-government slogans. Some dispute over what happened next, some say police fired into air as warning and then attacked the demonstration. Others say no warning. Crowd responded with stone throwing and situation got out of control. Police started firing on the crowd. Three demonstrators killed (two Hindu, one Muslim) Crowd chased the police to the police station and set it on fire with the policemen inside it. 22 policemen died. British furiouss and imposed martial law in Chauri-Chaura and surrounding areas Later, 172 were sentenced to death for this, and 19 were actually hung. Gandhi mortified. Decided to call off the movement. So what does this case show? – propensity for violence on both sides. Violence met out with violence. Congress and Gandhi not yet get total control and message of satyagraha not yet been internalised Criticisms Historiography- Gandhi saw it as a bigger problem than it was Gandhi was and continues to be criticised for his suspension of the movement. Was deeply resented by almost all prominent Congress leaders and by younger activists. Did lose a lot of support after this point (many resorted to violent measures in the interim between 1922and 1928/30 e.g. Bhagat Singh. Look at decreased Congress membership and donations) but Gandhi had repeatedly warned that he was prepared to lead only a strictly non-violent campaign, and that its aim was not class struggle or social revolution. Thought was not an isolated incident, but a shocking episode in a rising trend of violence which could have degenerated into total mob violence, which would justify martial law and police suppression of even more civil liberties Needed time to rethink and regroup.

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