Gandhi Jayanti: When Gandhiji called off a movement because of single incidence of violence
Mahatma Gandhi staunchly believed in non-violence and so strong was his belief that he wanted his followers to strictly adhere to it. Gandhiji not only preached non-violence but practiced it in his life and even his fight for India's freedom from the British rule was rooted in the ideology of Ahimsa.
Today (October 2) is Gandhi Jayanti and it is worth recalling an incident from the history when Gandhiji recalled a movement because of a lone incidence of violence.
In the year 1919, Gandhiji was shaken by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in which hundreds of innocent Indians were killed. In 1920, Gandhiji launched Non-Cooperation movement aimed to resist British rule in India through non-violent means, or "Ahimsa". Protesters would refuse to buy British goods and adopt the use of goods manufactured locally. The British would have suffered economically if the purchase of their goods was boycotted.
Indians were encouraged to withdraw from British Raj-sponsored schools, police services, the military, the civil service, and lawyers were asked to leave the British Raj's courts.
The success of the revolt was a total shock to British authorities and a massive encouragement to millions of Indian nationalists. Unity across India was strengthened and many Indian schools and colleges were made. Indian goods were encouraged.
On 5 February 1922, a clash took place at Chauri Chaura, a small town in the district of Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. A police officer had attacked some volunteers. A whole crowd of peasants that had gathered there went to the police station. The mob set fire to the police chowki with some 22 policemen inside it.
Mahatma Gandhi felt that the revolt was veering off-course, and was disappointed that the revolt had lost its non-violent nature. He did not want the movement to degenerate into a contest of violence, with police and angry mobs attacking each other back and forth, victimising civilians in between. Gandhi appealed to the Indian public for all resistance to end, went on a fast lasting 3 weeks, and called off the non-cooperation movement.
The Non-cooperation movement was withdrawn because of the Chauri Chaura incident.