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Day to day with Gandhi - Volume III
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DAY-TO-DAY WITH GANDHI-III
8

bonfires etc. were only passing shows. But as time passed and there was not only no abatement but a more glowing flare-up, it grew alarmed. It saw that Gandhiji's entirely fearless speeches had begun to spread a sense of hatred and disgust towards it among the masses. But in view of the novel character of the agitation, viz., through non-violence, it was annoyed and per-plexed at first, but finally it took up arms against the Congress.

    Maulana Mohammad Ali was arrested at Voltair when he was travelling with Gandhiji from Madras to Calcutta. Maulana Shaukat Ali was the next, victim of repression. Gandhiji was given an order not to visit Malabar. Lala Lajpatrai, Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru and many other distinguished leaders were clapped in jail. Even Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, the President Elect, was not spared. The Congress session was held at Ahmedabad never the less and all this fury of repression failed to suppress the rising spirit of the nation.

    The Congress decided to make the whole region of Bardoli Taluka the arena for offering mass civil disobedience. Gandhiji gave an ultimatum to the Viceroy and the movement, as admi-tted by Sir George Lloyd, the then Governor of Bombay, came to 'within an inch of success.' But as the fight was rushing on towards its climax, there was a sudden jolt —of a sad event which seemed to Gandhiji the forbidding finger of God. People at Chauri Chaura (a small town in U. P.) lost their sanity at Government persecution and they reacted by burning Police Stations and killing policemen. Though this happened in U. P., far away from Bardoli in Gujarat, it was the third outbreak of violence during that year in India. As Gandhiji believed that if mass civil disobedience were started in Bardoli, the steam created by its heat might burst into violence at other places also, though it might remain quite controlled and guided in Bardoli Taluka itself. When, therefore people were at the height of sanguine expectations he carried a sudden halt and decided not to start mass civil disobedience in Bardoli Taluka.

    The flood-tide began to ebb and a sense of frustration and despair began to overtake the people.

(continued)


 
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