Indian Rebels Raid Dharasana Salt Depot

Here are some examples of how the newspapers of the day covered the Dharasana Salt Raids:

India’s Joan and Her Army Hemmed in by Police Cordon; New Drive Mapped by Hindus

Woman Leader Bides Time When Path Blocked in Salt Raid

 Police blocked the raid of Mrs. Sarojini Naidu and her volunteers near the Dharasana salt depot today in one of the quietest and most weird clashes of the independence campaign inaugurated by the Mahatma Gandhi.

Authorities adopted the methods of the Satyagraha, or passive registers, to halt the raid. They formed a cordon around the volunteers headed by Mrs. Naldu and merely prevented them from moving.

When the police halted them. Mrs. Naidu announced that they would not go back to their camp.

“We will not move,” the police superintendent replied.

The volunteers brought Mrs. Naidu a chair and they all sat down to await a move by police, who quietly stood their ground.

The long-awaited raid led by Mrs. Naidu started when she left the Satyagraha camp at the head of the first group of volunteers, reiterating her intention of seeking “death or victory.” On two previous occasions the raid was stopped by the arrests of Gandhi and his first successor, Abbas Tyabji.

The thinly-clad volunteers trudged along the road to the government salt works in ragged formation, equipped with pliers to cut the barbed wire barricade police had erected. The police force, strengthened by reinforcements from Jalalpur, awaited them.

The volunteer procession was met on the route by the superintendent of police, accompanied by 50 excise policemen and a dozen district policemen armed with sticks. The procession was halted about a half mile from the camp.

Forming a cordon of his men, the police superintendent managed to block the paths of the Satyagrahis and also cut them off from spectators in the rear.

“You cannot proceed,” the superintendent Informed Mrs. Naidu.

“We will not go back,” the poetess and leader replied. “We will stay here.”

“We are going to stay here, too, and offer Satyagraha ourselves as long as you stay,” the superintendent said, ordering his men to stand their ground.

They parleyed for a short time and then Mrs. Naidu ordered a chair brought from a nearby house. She sat down and wrote letters and talked jovially with her friends. Her followers squatted on the ground nearby, many of them engaged in spinning cloth.

Mrs. Naldu, educated in England and the mother of four children, announced before her departure from Bombay for Dharasana, that she was determined to carry out the responsibilities of the leadership she inherited from Gandhi and Tyabji, both of whom now are in prison because they declared India should rule herself.

The Dharasana salt works, state-controlled, have been made the center of the passive resistance campaign, and Mrs. Naidu’s participation in a raid on it marks her entrance into the campaign in an active role.

Indian women have participated in the passive resistance campaign since it was inaugurated at Dandi when Gandhi began making salt illegally, but until the British government had ignored them. Mrs. Lakshmipathi, a prominent Madras social worker, was arrested , however, when she went to Vederanyam to lead a salt raid. She was sentenced to one year’s simple imprisonment.

The little woman, who violated the strict rules or Hindu caste to marry Dr. Naidu. declared the Satyagrahis would ask or give no quarter. Her dark eyes glowed as she told of her hopes for India, and she was almost trembling with eagerness when she said neither jail nor death held any terrors for her.

A new plan for deflance of British authority in India, the most deliberate yet made by the Indian national congress and designed as the last stage in the campaign for Indian Independence, has been drawn up by the executive committee of the congress. It was understood on the most reliable authority .

The executive committee, which has been meeting secretly at Allahabad for the , adopted a resolution urging the peasants of the Bengal and Bihar districts to refuse to pay taxes levied against them for maintenance of village watchmen.

The committee also urged natives of the Gujerat district not to pay the land revenue in protest against the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi, a Gujeratite.

The plan constitutes the most deliberate defiance of Great Britain’s authority yet made by the congress, which previously has contented itself with violations of the government salt monopoly and picketing of liquor and foreign cloth shops.

The plan is fraught with great possibilities, and will affect hundreds of thousands of people if it gains complete response.

The watchmen’s tax was selected because the land revenue in Bengal and Bihar is paid by peasants to landowners and not to the government direct. The watchmen, however, are employed by the government.

No compromise will be made with foreign cloth merchants, another resolution declared, and therefore picketing of cloth shops will be intensified.

 Indian authorities, including the High Commissioner for the Northern Division of Bombay Presidency, today went to the volunteers’ camps around the Dharasana salt depots to interview the leaders regarding their intentions as to further raids.

“We are all leaders,” replied the volunteers, when the Magistrate asked who directed their activities.

Military officers served notices on the volunteers to quit the camp by today.

 Indian Moslems in a great gathering here protested the policy of the Nationalist Congress group in Calcutta municipality of systematically ignoring Moslem claims. A resolution was passed in favor of a campaign of civil disobedience in the form of refusing to pay municipal taxes, and demanding an amendment to existing municipal law so that at least one-third of the total number of councillors will be Moslems.

 Undeterred by clashes within British police in which about 200 were injured and as many or more arrested, Indian Nationalists again raided the Government salt depots at Wadala.

Eighty-three Nationalist volunteers led the assault on the wire enclosure. Thirty returned with two mounds or baskets of salt, while 30 of the remaining 53 were arrested immediately.

The “war council” of the Nationalist Congress convened in a secret meeting here to consider the situation brought about by the raids, in which rioting developed which finally led to the police firing six rounds into the mob. Most of those fired upon were said to be excited textile operatives.

17 Hurt in First Raid

The raids in which 300 were injured began early in the day, with 100 volunteers forming a nucleus of a group which finally circumvented the police and obtained considerable salt from the depot. The police, with their lathis, or bamboo staves, injured seventeen, seven seriously, and arrested more than 100 persons.

Later in the day a mob of thousands, in which the Satyagrahis or volunteers of Mahatma Gandhi, now in prison at Yeroda, Poona, numbered by tens to hundreds of others, stormed the salt works. Eighteen others were hurt, five seriously by the police with staves, and others were arrested.

The brunt of thwarting the raid, which was partially successful, fell principally upon the European police, who were said to have shown great forbearance. The native police, fearing social boycott if they pressed their own kinsmen too hard, in some cases sat idly by and watched proceedings.

Police Stoned

Late in the evening a third raid took place, and about a thousand Nationalist sympathizers, abandoning, it was said, all pretenses at non-violence, stoned guards and police. Five police and three excisemen were injured by the pebbles.

Six police who went to the rescue of some hardly pressed excisemen were themselves surrounded by the mob and obliged to retire. After warning shot into the air six rounds were fired into the crowd. Casualties were not known immediately, although an estimated 50 persons were injured by the police in this in the accompanying action. [sic]

It was reported here from Ahmadabad that 65 Nationalist volunteers leaving on a train for Dharasana, where the Government operated salt pans are located, were arrested at Barejadi, 11 mllea from Ahmadabad.

The Nationalist camp at Untadi, near Dharasana, now is in charge of Miss Maniben Patel, daughter of Villabhai Patel.

Britain Facing Heavy Loss in No-Tax Drive

 A dispatch to the Dally Herald from its Bombay correspondent quoted a “high official” as saying that if by the end of the year the tax-resistance campaign is succeeding, the government will be faced with considerable financial embarrassment. The dispatch added that hope prevailed that civil resistance would have been checked or abandoned by then, “although at the moment all signs point in the contrary direction.”

The correspondent said the growth of the Gandhi movement was shown by the increased number of persons wearing the Gandhi caps. In the cities, he said, a majority of the people wear them; they also are beginning to be worn in villages in Punjab while even in aristocratic Simla one person in six of the population in the bazaars have donned caps, which is the symbol of the nationalist campaign.

Concurrently he said there has been an intensification of the boycott of British goods. He cited an unnamed Punjab merchant who has 100,000 pounds of Lancashire cotton goods on his hands which it is useless to attempt to sell. This merchant is prepared to accept his losses cheerfully as a contribution to the nationalist cause, he added.

The government was represented in the dispatch as determined to put down lawlessness, but the writer implied a doubt whether the civil forces would be able to prevail against disruption without the aid of the military.

Indian Women Renew Picketing in Challenge to Government as Real Test of Home Rule Move

500 Begin Drive Against Foreign Cloth and Liquor Shops — Boycott Expected to Replace Raiding of Salt Depots

 Wholesale defiance of the government’s ordinance against picketing shops selling foreign goods or liquors was inaugurated today by the India independence volunteers.

More than 500 women volunteers renewed picketing of foriegn-cloth shops in Bombay and the local congress leaders were organizing more volunteers for the work, which was expected to replace the practice of raiding salt depots.

The picketing campaign was a direct challenge to the recent ordinance of the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, and was expected by many observers to decide definitely the strength of the home rule movement. The independence leaders also have planned to defy the Viceroy’s order to halt propagandizing against payment of land taxes.

 Official India today could cease to worry about Indian nationalists’ raids on the government salt pans, but faced a problem of greater importance — non-payment of taxes, which is being instigated as the next step in the nationalist campaign of civil disobedience.

A “flnal” salt raid was undertaken at Wadala by 15,000 nationalist volunteers and spectators who for a week had prepared for the occasion. One hundred fifty of their number were injured by the police with their bamboo clubs, but the remainder broke through the cordon and obtained handsful of salt.

Holding the salt aloft, and with their bodies covered with slime and mud up to their waistlines, the volunteers paraded the streets of Bombay crying aloud their usual: “We have broken the salt laws.” The spirit of the crowd seemed subdued, however, in comparison with recent raids, a development which authorities attributed to troops which were at hand for use in case of need.

The nationalists had widely advertised the raid, and raids on a smaller scale at Dharasana as “final,” a decision taken because of the approach of the summer monsoons, when the salt areas cannot be approached.

The anti-tax campaign which it was said would replace the campaign against the salt laws already has been initiated in the Bardoli district where officials are arriving to post signs warning the peasants that their lands will be forfeit if they refuse to pay the dues. Thus far they have found the villages deserted.

The government announced a new ordinance aimed at the notax campaign. This provides for heavy prison and monetary penalties against instigators of this form of civil disobedience.

The salt tax, which is the center of the nationalist attack, is less than a farthing a pound, and is not new to India. It is an ancient method of raising money which the East India Company inherited from the Mogul empire. Collected at first only in Bengal, it was subsequently extended to other districts.

The native peasants are great consumers of salt, much of which is required to counteract the insipidity of their vegetable diet.

In some districts the manufacture has diminished owing to the importation of foreign salt, but the industry is still widespread and very important. It is carried on partly by private firms and partly by government agents, but duty has to be paid on it, and to carry on the manufacture without license is illegal, hence the significance of the Gandhi procedure.

Gandhi Aids Open Anti-Tax Campaign

New Action Comes as Rainy Season Halts Salt Raids — 15,000 Take Part in “Final”

150 Injured by Police

 A drizzling rain fell over Bombay Presidency today from cloudy, forbidding skies, marking the first of the rainy season which comes every summer with arrival of the monsoon.

This year the rain will mark the end of an important phase of the Indian Nationalist civil disobedience campaign. The showers of today will be torrents tomorrow and the salt deposit areas, such as at Wadala and Dharasana, will become morasses of mud and slime, inaccessible to the raiders who during the past two months have harassed British police guarding them.

The final raid of the year at Wadala was undertaken by 15,000 Nationalist volunteers and spectators. Presence of troops was believed to have restrained the crowd somewhat, although about 150 persons were injured when the police charged with their lathis, or bamboo clubs.

There will be some further raiding at Dharasana, but even this will cease within a few days. There was no raiding anywhere today inasmuch as Monday is the day observed by Mahatma Gandhi, imprisoned leader of the swarajist movement, as a day of silence.

Tax Resistance Stressed

With abandonment of the campaign against the salt law, the Nationalist volunteers are stressing the nonpayment of taxes, a campaign of possibly much more serious import for the British authorities than that just concluded.

The antitax campaign which it was said would replace the campaign against the salt laws has already been initiated in the Bardoli district, where officials are arriving to post signs warning the peasants that their lands will be forfeited if they refuse to pay the taxes. They thus far have found the villages deserted.

The Government announced a new ordinance aimed at the no-tax campaign providing heavy prison and monetary penalties against instigators of this form of civil disobedience

Campaign Seen as Serious

 A Bombay dispatch to the Daily Herald today from its own correspondend there quoted a “high official” as saying that if by the end of the year the tax-resistance campaign still is succeeding the Government will be faced with considerable financial embarrassment. The dispatch added that hope prevailed that [illegible] resistance would have been checked or abandoned by then, “although at the moment all signs point in the contrary direction.”

Tax Refusal Seen Gaining in India

Peasants Reported Leaving Farms as Part of Civil Disobedience Campaign

Await Gandhi Orders

 Nonpayment of taxes, one of the planks of the civil disobedience campaign platform, appears to be gaining ground in some sections of India.

All-India National Congress reports say that 50,000 peasants of the Bardoli region have left their homes, resolved not to pay land taxes until swaraj, or home rule, is established. Many left their household goods, chattels and crops behind, the Government confiscating and auctioning them off.

The peasants are said to have for their slogan, “No swaraj, no revenue.” The leaders of the movement declare the peasants do not desire to evade payment, but simply will not pay until Mahatma Gandhi is released from jail and has ordered them to pay.

The Congress characterizes the the peasants’ actions as “an unrivaled example of a migration movement on the part of people who are resolved to forfeit their all in the interest of the Gandhi cause.”

The Bardoli district has an area of about 233 square miles and contains 123 villages with a total population of 88,000, of whome 82,000 are rural. The annual land revenue exceeds $183,000.

The Government claims that [illegible] villages have paid all their arrears and that throughout the district only twenty-five peasants have [illegible] payment altogether, dwellers of the villages merely having gone elsewhere to await developments.

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