'A lump of salt': Significance of Dandi March led by Mahatma Gandhi
The salt satyagraha spread nationwide, becoming the first call for civil disobedience and thus, one of the most important chapters of India’s Independence struggle.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off a commemorative 25-day long foot march from Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad on Friday to launch the celebrations of the 75th year of India’s Independence, the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. The day marks the start of the Dandi March, also known as the Salt March or the Salt Satyagraha, a part of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent protest against the British monopoly over the production of salt. Led by the Father of the Nation, 78 people started the Salt Satyagraha on March 12, 1930, from Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram.
Before beginning the foot march, Gandhi addressed a letter to the viceroy expressing his intention to launch a civil disobedience movement in the country by symbolically breaking the salt tax law imposed by the Britishers, calling the law as "the most iniquitous of all from the poor man's standpoint." On the eve of the March, Gandhi said in a speech, “In all probability, this will be my last speech to you. Even if the Government allows me to march tomorrow morning, this will be my last speech on the sacred banks of the Sabarmati. Possibly, these may be the last words of my life here.”
The march ended on April 5, 1930, in Dandi when Gandhi defied the salt law by picking a lump of salt. After this, millions of people broke the salt law as salt depots were raided everywhere and the manufacture of salt was undertaken. "Now that the technical or ceremonial breach of the salt law has been committed, it is now open to anyone who would take the risk of prosecution under the salt law to manufacture salt, wherever he wishes and wherever it is convenient,” Mahatma Gandhi said in a statement issued after breaking the salt law.
In response, the British government arrested more than 95,000 people by March 31. After making salt at Dandi, Gandhi headed to Dharasana salt works and was arrested on May 5, 1930, and taken to the Yerwada central prison. But the salt satyagraha spread nationwide, becoming the first call for civil disobedience and thus, one of the most important chapters of India’s Independence struggle.
Union culture and tourism minister Prahlad Singh Patel has said the nearly 387km padayatra flagged by PM Modi will also start on the same root on which Mahatma Gandhi led that march. "There is a group of 81 youth from Gujarat, who will complete the journey from Sabarmati to Dandi. There is another group of 81 people, who will complete the 75km journey and I will also be in it. This journey will be a 75km journey from Sabarmati to Nadiad," the minister was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.