Salt Satyagrah

The Salt March, also known as the Salt Satyagraha, the Dandi March, and the Dandi Satyagraha, was an act of nonviolent civil disobedience in colonial India led by Mahatma Gandhi. (12 Mar 1930 – 6 Apr 1930).

What was the Salt Tax levied by the British?

  • Since the Maurya dynasty, salt has been taxed in India. It was increased during the British administration, and other levies were added to it, making it a significant burden on the common man.
  • Following the Battle of Plassey, the British raised land rent (where salt was produced in Bengal) and transitory salt transportation expenses.
  • Following the Battle of Buxar, they established the British as the only manufacturer of salt.
  • Later, the Salt Act made India, specifically Bengal and its surrounding provinces, reliant on imported salt from Liverpool and other places. The quality of the imported salt was lower than that of Indian salt. The indigenous industry was suffocated by exorbitant fees and was unable to compete with its English counterpart. The salt tax/duties on a family’s annual requirement once amounted to over two months’ earnings for a labourer.
  • The salt tax bought enormous amounts of money to the treasury.
Salt Satyagraha Movement | Dandi March | Dandi Satyagraha |  Salt Satyagraha Movement or Dandi March

How did Congress and Mahatma Gandhi agitate against the salt tax?

The repeal of the salt tax was one of the INC’s first demands, and it was vigorously argued by members in the Congress session of 1885 (the first congress session) because the salt tax was a significant burden on the common Indian.
While in South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi began writing against the salt tax in publications such as The Vegetable and Hind Swaraj. Because of Gandhi’s support, Jawaharlal Nehru was elected President of the INC in Lahore in 1929. A programme of civil disobedience was allowed during this session, which included non-payment of taxes and the slogan “Poorna Swaraj.”
After receiving complete authorisation to launch the Civil Disobedience Movement, Mahatma Gandhi issued an 11-point ultimatum to Viceroy Lord Irwin, threatening civil disobedience if these demands were not met. These demands were ignored by Lord Irwin.
Gandhiji, along with a group of 78 volunteers from the Sabarmati Ashram, began a march from Sabarmati to Dandi, covering a distance of 240 miles. He had announced that on reaching the coast of Dandi, he would break the salt laws by collecting salt from the beach. Thus, the Salt Satyagraha began.
Thousands of people came out to support him, and Gandhiji urged the people to violate the salt laws
in a nonviolent manner. Upon reaching Dandi, Gandhiji picked up a handful of salt, thus launching the Civil Disobedience Movement.
Many people were being recruited into the Congress so that grass root level Congress Committees would be made. This would enable Satyagraha to start from the villages too. Funds were being collected, sites for satyagraha were chosen, and volunteers were being prepared. Salt law violations began all over the country.

  1. In Malabar, K Kelappan(hero of Viacom Satyagraha) started the revolt
  2. In Assam, people walked from Sylhet to Naokhali(Bengal coast) to break the salt law.
  3. In Andhra, sibirams (military camps) were set up,
  4. In the NWFP, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, through his organization, Khudai Khidmatgars or Red Shirt Organisation, began revolting.

Gandhiji then announced that they would raid the Dharasana Salt Works, which was administered by the British Government. This led to his arrest, and the revolts against it broke out in the whole country.

The Dharashana Cruelty: Sarojini Naidu, Imam Saheb, and Manilal (Gandhiji’s son), along with 2000 volunteers, marched to the Dharasana Salt Works (Gujarat). The cops charged the non-resisting Satyagrahis with violence. A new line of Satyagrahis would come up and take their position, ready to be beaten up, after the first line of Satyagrahis was seriously hurt and brought away on stretchers. This went on for a long period, resulting in 320 people being injured and two people dying. The Dharasana Satyagrahis’ unwavering heroism became a symbol all throughout the world.
Satyagraha erupted in a number of cities, including Bombay, Karnataka, Madras, Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, and Orissa.
Gandhi’s hunger strike against the salt tax lasted over a year, culminating in his release from prison and negotiations with Viceroy Lord Irwin at the Second Round Table Conference. The Salt Satyagraha resulted in the imprisonment of over 60,000 Indians. However, the British did not make any significant concessions as a result of it.

Salt Satyagraha Movement | Dandi March | Dandi Satyagraha |  Salt Satyagraha Movement or Dandi March

This Salt Satyagraha movement had three main effects:

  • It was the catalyst that pushed the Indian freedom struggle into the limelight in western media. It also bought a variety of forms of defiance and vigorous boycott with it.
  • It brought a lot of people, including women and the depressed classes, directly in touch with the freedom movement. They actively participated in drug and alcohol use
  • It showed the power of the non-violent Satyagraha as a tool in fighting imperialism.
  • Lord Irwin met Gandhiji, and after days of negotiation, the Gandhi-Irwin Pact was signed.

Gandhi Irwin Pact

He agreed that the INC would attend and take part in the Second Round Table Conference to chalk out constitutional reformsThe British would withdraw all orders imposing curbs or bans on the activities of the Indian National Congress.
The INC would stop the civil disobedience movement.They also agreed to withdraw trials relating to several offences except those involving violence
Release of prisoners arrested for participating in the civil disobedience movement.
The following demands were not accepted by Lord Irwin:
A public inquiry into police excesses during its suppression of the movement.
Commuting the death sentences of Bhagat Singh and his associates to life sentences
Removal of the tax on salt
To restore the confiscated properties of the satyagraha.
To withdraw all ordinances and prosecutions.
The government agreed to let the people picket peacefully, the shops that sold liquor.


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