Non-Cooperation Movement in Bihar

The non-cooperation movement was launched on 1st August 1920 by the Indian National Congress (INC) under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. It signified a new chapter in the history of Indian freedom struggle.

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Causes of the non-cooperation movement:

  • Resentment at the British after the war: Indians thought that in return for the extensive support of manpower and resources they had provided to Britain during the First World War, they would be rewarded by autonomy at the end of the war. But the Government of India Act passed in 1919 was dissatisfactory. In addition, the British also passed repressive acts like the Rowlatt Act which further angered many Indians who felt betrayed by the rulers despite their wartime support.
  • Home Rule Movement: The Home Rule Movement started by Annie Besant and Bal Gangadhar Tilak set the stage for the non-cooperation movement. The extremists and the moderates of the INC were united and the Lucknow Pact also saw solidarity between the Muslim League and the Congress Party. The return of the extremists gave the INC a militant character.
  • Economic hardships due to World War I: India’s indirect participation in the war caused a lot of economic hardships to the people. Prices of goods began to soar which affected the common man. Peasants also suffered because the prices of agricultural products did not increase. All this led to resentment against the government.
  • The Rowlatt Act and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre: The repressive Rowlatt Act and the brutal massacre at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar had a profound effect on the Indian leaders and the people. Their faith in the British system of justice was broken and the whole country rallied behind its leaders who were pitching for a more aggressive and firm stance against the government.
  • The Khilafat Movement: During the First World War, Turkey, which was a German ally, had fought against the British. After Turkey’s defeat, the Ottoman caliphate was proposed to be dissolved. The Khilafat movement was launched by Muslims in India to persuade the British government not to abolish the caliphate. The leaders of this movement accepted the non-cooperation movement of Gandhiji and led a joint protest against the British.

Features of the non-cooperation movement in Bihar:

1. Teachers and students left schools and colleges and the lawyers abstained from attending courts. Many officials left their jobs. Foreign goods were boycotted.

2. There was a boycott of auctions for settlement of ferries and pounds in Munger and Bhagalpur.

3. There was a strike in the Government press in Patna.

4. There was a police strike in March-April, 1921 which spread to Patna, Purnea, Munger and Champaran.

5. When the Prince of Wales landed in
Bombay on November, 17, there was hartal in whole of Bihar. When the Prince visited Patna on December, 22, there was a complete boycott.

6. The arrest of Gandhiji in March, 1922 was marked by state-wide protest meetings.

7. The Civil Disobedience Enquiry Committee of the Congress visited Bihar in 1922.

8. Bihar Vidvapeeth was established on February 6, 1921, which was inaugurated by Gandhiji. Maulana Mazharul Hague and Braj Kishore Prasad were made its Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor respectively. Rajendra Prasad was made Principal at National School, Patna.

9. Mazharul Haque established Sadakat Ashram near Digha in Patna which became the main centre of national movement. He also started a newspaper called Motherland from September 30, 1921.

The most significant event was the 37th session on the Congress at Gaya in 1922 presided over by C.R. Das, which voted for the continuance of the boycott of legislatures. In this session Rajendra Prasad was elected secretary of the Congress and the office of AICC was shifted to Patna. The Tana Bhagats also attended the Gaya Congress. Rajendra Prasad himself participated in the famous flag Satvagraha at Nagpur in 1923 along with a group of volunteers from Bihar.

Suspension of the non-cooperation movement:

  • Gandhiji called off the movement in February, 1922 in the wake of the Chauri Chaura incident.
  • In Chauri Chaura, Uttar Pradesh, a violent mob set fire to a police station killing 22 policemen during a clash between the police and protesters of the movement.
  • Gandhiji called off the movement saying people were not ready for revolt against the government through ahimsa. A lot of leaders like Motilal Nehru and C R Das were against the suspension of the movement only due to sporadic incidents of violence.

After the suspension of NCM, Bihar concentrated on khadi production and other constructive activities.

As a result of break in the Congress, the Swaraj Party was formed in January 1923 under the presidentship of CR Das and Motilal Nehru as its secretary. The Swaraj Party in Bihar was formed in February, 1923. Shri Narayan Prasad was its first President and Abdul Bari was its secretary. The party participated in the assembly elections held in November, 1923 and won 8 seats in the assembly and 10 seats in the council.

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