Inspirational Indian leader Mohandas Ghandi began a march to the sea in protest of the British monopoly on salt on March 12, 1930. It was the strongest act against British rule to date.
Salt is a staple in the Indian diet and the Salt Acts prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt and people were forced to purchase salt from the British and, as you might guess, added to this was a salt tax. Needless to say the poor suffered the most.
By defying the Salt Acts, Ghandi decided would be a simple way for Indians to break the law nonviolently. The declared resistance to the policies were the unifying theme for his campaign of satyargraha—depending upon one’s point of view mass, civil disobedience.
Gandhi started a 241-mile march on March 12, setting out from Sabarmati with 78 followers to the coastal town of Dandi on the Arabian Sea. Once there, Ghandi and his followers defied the British by making salt from seawater. During the march he spoke to large crowds, and with each passing day more people joined the salt satyargraha. By the time they reached Dandi on April 1, the march was so successful that Gandhi led a crowd of tens of thousands.
His plan was to work the salt flats encrusted with crystallized salt from daily high tides. However, the police thwarted the process by crushing the salt deposits into the mud. In spite of this, Gandhi defied British law by reaching down and pickup up a small lump of natural sale from the mud. reached down and picked up a small lump of natural salt from the mud.
At Dandi, thousands more followed his lead, and in the coastal cities of Bombay and Karachi, Indian nationalists led crowds of Indian citizens in making salt. Civil disobedience broke out all across India, soon involving millions of Indians, and British authorities arrested more than 60,000 people. Gandhi himself was arrested on May 5, but the satyagraha continued on without him.
Indian poet Sarojinni Naidu let 2500 marchers or May 21 to the Dharasana Salt Works north of Bombay. The peaceful protesters were viciously beaten by several hundred British-let Indian policemen. The incident was recorded by American journalist, Webb Miller, which led to an international outcry against British policy in India.
Gandhi was released from prison in January of 1931 and had a meeting with Lord Irwin, the viceroy of India. He agreed to call off the satyagraha in exchange for an equal negotiating role at a London conference on India’s future.
Although the meeting was a disappointment the British leaders acknowledged Gandhi as a force they could not suppress or ignore
India’s independence was finally granted in August 1947. And sadly, Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu extremist less than six months later.