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44. Two Historical Marches
Gandhiji often used to plan a march during his Satyagraha movement. He had arranged one such movement in South Africa and another one in India, which is known as Dandi March.
When the South African government imposed several taxes on the public, Gandhiji asked the thousands of labourers to take part in his movement. The labourers answered his call and leaving the factories and fields, took part in his movement.
Gandhiji started thinking about doing something, which would make the government arrest all of them.
An idea came to his mind. He thought that he would arrange a long march with those thousands of labourers to the Transwall and break the rules for the permission to stay there.
He asked them to march with him. He had 2211 people with him along with 127 women. The labourers had brought their children and belongings with them.
They crossed the boundary to disobey the law. No one arrested them. They spent the night there. The police arrested Gandhiji alone while all of them were sleeping.
The crowd came to know about this in the morning. Now they got deeply involved in the march. The next day Gandhiji was released on bail. His return spread a wave of enthusiasm among them.
Gandhiji was arrested again the next day and then released on bail. He returned to his followers. All of them were happy to have him back.
The crowd kept marching ahead. Someone's child died of illness but the march went on.
The march used to halt at some place. Then there would be hustle and bustle for erecting the tents, making meals and then cleaning everything.
The businessmen from those places would lovingly offer them food.
At last Gandhiji was arrested for the third time. He was sentenced and then sent to jail.
At the next stop the crowd was detained and then sent back in two special trains.
Who doesn't know the story of Dandi March?
Gandhiji decided that he would struggle for total independence.
He then tried to find out a way to disobey the law, which would send him to jail. Finally he decided on disobeying the law of salt!
He then arranged Dandi March for this purpose. He vowed, "I would cross the desert, I would die of a dog's death but I would not return to the Ashram until I get Independence for my country!" He took the oath and set out.
He decided that he would start his march from Sabarmati Ashram. Then he would walk through Gujarat state to reach Dandi, at the far end of it and then disobey the law of salt by preparing the salt himself.
He set out for the march with eighty Ashram inmates. They would halt in some village or town in the noon and in the night at some other place on the way. There they would have their meals, spin yarn and then Gandhiji would address the people to spread his message about the movement. Thousands of people would come to see the march.
Every day, the people would expect to be arrested, but the government let the march reach its destination. At the end of the march Gandhiji took bath on the beautiful seashore and then prepared salt from the seawater.
After this incident, people started looting salt everywhere in the country.
The government had planned not to arrest Gandhiji and to carry out atrocities on the people everywhere in the country. The stories of their tyranny consisted of beating the women with sticks. The news used to disturb Gandhiji. He would say, "They should strike my head with a stick. What should I do so that they would do it?"
At last he decided to rob the salt-pits of Dharasana but he was arrested on the night prior to the march ahead while all others were asleep.