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Non-Cooperation & Khilafat Movement in India

Non-Cooperation & Khilafat Movement in India

Non-Cooperation & Khilafat Movement in India:-The Non – Cooperation Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi on August 1, 1920, was the first mass movement organized nationwide during India’s struggle for freedom. 

Causes/Background of Non-Cooperation Movement

The Non – Cooperation Movement has had four main causes:

  1. Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and Resultant Punjab Disturbances
  2. Dissatisfaction with Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms
  3. Rowlatt Act
  4. Khilafat Agitation
1.  Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and Resultant Punjab Disturbances

On April 13, 1919, a large but unarmed crowd gathered at Amritsar in the Jallianwala Bagh to protest the arrest of their popular leaders, Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr. Satyapal. However, this unarmed crowd of women and children, among others, was fired mercilessly with rifles and machine guns on General Dyer’s orders. Thousands of people have been killed and injured. Martial law was proclaimed throughout Punjab after this massacre and the people were subjected to the most uncivilized atrocities.

2.  Unhappiness with the reforms in Montagu – Chelmsford

The 1919 Government of India Act was enacted based on the 1918 Montagu – Chelmsford proposals recommendations. This Act introduced the ‘ Dyarchy ‘ system and divided topics into lists – Reserved and Transferred. The Legislative Assembly (lower house) was introduced with direct elections, but the right to vote was severely curtailed. In addition, there was no control over the Governor General and his Executive Council by the Legislative Assembly. Indian nationalists, however, had gone far beyond such stopping concessions. The Indian National Congress met under Hasan Imam’s presidency at a special session in Bombay in August 1918 and condemned the reforms of Montagu – Chelmsford and instead called for effective self-government.

3.  Rowlatt Act

The government enacted the 1919 Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act, popularly called the Rowlatt Act, based on the findings of the Rowlatt Committee. This act allowed the government to imprison any person suspected of terrorism for a maximum period of two years without trial. The government passed Montagu Chelmsford Reforms and Rowlatt Act in succession, which were part of the British Carrot and Stick policy. This action gave the movement a new direction. At all levels of India, Gandhi organized mass protests.

 4. Khilafat Movement

The Khilafat Movement, which began in 1919, brought the Muslims and the Hindus on a common platform against British rule and was the most important cause of the Non – Cooperation Movement. Turkey had aligned itself in the First World War with Germany – led Axis powers that were defeated by Great Britain – led Allied powers. The politically – conscious Muslims were critical of the British and their ally’s treatment of the Turkish (Ottoman) Empire that had divided it and properly removed Thrace from Turkey.

Mahatma Gandhi saw the Khilafat agitation as “an opportunity not to unite Hindus and Muslims in a hundred years’ time. “Also, the Muslims League gave full support to the National Congress and its political agitation.

The launch of the Non-Cooperation Movement

The above-mentioned causes resulted in unrest among the masses anxious to take political action against the British government. The only added fuel to the fire was the economic hardship suffered by ordinary Indians. On August 1, 1920, the Non – Cooperation Movement was officially launched.

Congress Nagpur session in December 1920 defined the Non – Cooperation program clearly in detail

Following changes to the Indian National Congress Constitution at the December 1920 Nagpur Session:

  1. The Congress’ goal has been shifted from achieving self-government through constitutional and legal means to achieving Swaraj through peaceful and legitimate means.
  2. The Congress now had to have a 15-member Working Committee to look after its daily affairs.
  3. Linguistically, Provincial Congress Committees were to be organized now.
  4. Congress was to use Hindi as far as possible.
The non – cooperation movement method and spread

Together with the Ali brothers, Mahatma Gandhi undertook a nationwide tour of numerous student and political worker rallies and meetings. This led to thousands of students leaving schools and colleges to join over 800 national schools and colleges throughout the country. 

The educational boycott in Bengal was especially successful. C.R Das played an important role in promoting the movement and Subhash Bose became the head of the Calcutta National Congress. The educational boycott was also very successful in Punjab, and Lala Lajpat Rai played the leading role here.

However, the Non – Cooperation Movement’s most successful item was the foreign cloth boycott. A major form of the boycott was also the picketing of shops selling foreign cloth. Liquor shops were also picketing. Gandhi and Congress put a lot of stress on handspun Khadi in support of domestic textiles. Charkhas were widely popularized and khadi became the national movement’s uniform.

In July 1921, at the All India Khilafat Conference in Karachi, Mohammed Ali declared that continuing in the British Army was ‘ religiously unlawful for the Muslims. Gandhi repeated Mohammed Ali’s exhortation, adding that every civilian and army member should sever links with the repressive British government.

A movement against Union board taxes has been launched in the Midnapore district of Bengal. No-tax movements were also organized in the Andhra district of Guntur in Chirala – Pirala and Pedanandipadu taluka. In U.P, where a powerful Kisan Sabha movement was underway, Jawaharlal Nehru led the non – cooperation movement among others.

End of the Non-Cooperation Movement

While in 1921 the Non – Cooperation Movement was in full steam, the masses were awakened from their slumber and the grass root workers of Congress, as well as the leadership, were asking Mahatma Gandhi to launch the next phase of mass civil disobedience.

However, the Chauri Chaura incident occurred before mass civil disobedience could be launched.

Chauri Chaura Incident

A Congress-Khilafat procession took place at Chauri Chaura in the U.P. district of Gorakhpur on February 5, 1922. The police opened fire on the unarmed procession in retaliation. Instigated by this, the whole procession attacked the police and the mob set fire to the building when the police hid inside the police station. The cops who were trying to escape were hacked into pieces and thrown into the fire. In the Chauri Chaura incident, 22 police officers were killed.

Gandhi was profoundly disturbed by the Chauri Chaura incident news. Thus, the Non – Cooperation Movement came to an end on February 12, 1922.

Impact of the Non-Cooperation Movement

Despite the failure of the Non – Cooperation Movement to achieve its primary goal of Swaraj, it has succeeded on many other counts highlighted below:

  1. The National Congress has shown that it represents the country’s majority opinion. It cannot be charged with representing a ‘ microscopic minority ‘ anymore.’
  2. The movement’s geographical spread was also nationwide. While some areas were more active than others, few areas, if any, remained entirely passive to the call for non – cooperation.
  3. The Non – Cooperation Movement was the masses ‘ first opportunity to participate in politics and combat injustice and economic hardship caused by years of foreign rule.
  4. Notwithstanding the incidents of Malabar, which were not seen later during the Civil Disobedience Movement, there was considerable involvement of Muslims in the movement and the maintenance of communal harmony.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movement in India

What was the Non-Cooperation Movement in India?

The Non-Cooperation Movement was a significant phase in India’s freedom struggle initiated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920. It aimed to mobilize Indians to non-violently resist British colonial rule by boycotting government institutions, British goods, and adopting swadeshi (indigenous) products.

What were the main objectives of the Non-Cooperation Movement?

The Non-Cooperation Movement had several key objectives. It sought to demand the British government grant India greater self-governance, including Swaraj (complete independence). The movement aimed to unite Indians across different communities and regions, instilling a sense of national pride and unity.

What led to the launch of the Non-Cooperation Movement?

The Non-Cooperation Movement was triggered by the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in 1919 and the disappointment resulting from the failure of the Rowlatt Act protests. These events galvanized the Indian population and fueled a desire for more assertive action against British rule.

What was the Khilafat Movement?

The Khilafat Movement was a pan-Islamic movement that emerged in India in the early 1920s. It aimed to protect the caliphate of the Ottoman Empire, which was under threat by the Allied powers after World War I. Indian Muslims, along with their Hindu counterparts, actively supported the Khilafat Movement.

Read More: Rowlatt Act & Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

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