Let’s read the story of the Chauri Chaura incident.
The non-cooperation movement initiated by Mahatma Gandhi was at its peak in the year 1922. The movement was joined by millions and millions of people nationwide. The British government was suffering a huge loss. In an attempt to disassemble the movement, the British government had given instructions to all its workers. The instruction was to create a violent incident by provoking the protestors. Such an incident would then be used as a piece of evidence and national leaders, along with Gandhi, would be subjected to trials. The judge, jury, and execution were all in the hands of the British Government.
Fortunately, Mahatma Gandhi had a lot of experience against the British and he saw these tactics coming. So he designed the non-cooperation movement in such a way that the chances of physical confrontation were close to none.
But unfortunately, on the 5th of February of 1922, the people of Gorakhpur fell right into the trap.
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People of Gorakhpur had gathered at the marketplace to oppose the selling of liquor. They were led by an ex-British military soldier, Bhagwan Ahir. To dispatch the crowd of protestors, local police arrested Bhagwan Ahir and a few other leaders. The next day a group of 1500 protestors gathered in front of the Chauri Chaura police station. Their demand was the release of their leaders.
The front gate of the station was jam-packed with protestors. At night, the police tried to make a way out of it. They fired a few shots in the air to scare off the protestors. But the protestors were firm on their ground. A few hours later, the police started firing at the people. The firing took the lives of three.
Angered by the killing of their men, the peaceful protest turned violent. The crowd, mad with rage, burned down the police station. One by one they also threw the policemen into the fire. Unfortunately, 22 policemen lost their lives in the fire.
The British government was waiting for such an opportunity. They raided the city with heavy police and arrested almost one thousand men and women. Out of the arrested, 19 were hanged to death, and 14 were sentenced to life.
Gandhi Ji, saddened by the incident, instantly called off the movement. He single-handedly stopped the movement across the nation yet the British arrested him. Along with some other leaders, Gandhi Ji served six-year imprisonment.
Historians believe that the Non-cooperation Movement was so successful that had it gone on for a few more years, India might have had independence decades earlier. Gandhi Ji is criticized for his decision both then and now. Even the Congress party was divided after the incident. Some of the party members believed that Gandhi Ji’s ideology of non-violence was too extreme.
The ifs and buts of Indian independence are innumerable. We wish for many a thing to not happen, Chauri Chaura was one such incident.
The silver lining of the incident was that the nation got to know how strong Gandhi Ji’s beliefs and principles are. This made him even more popular and trustworthy. His next movement attracted even more people and was even more successful.