CHAURI CHAURA INCIDENT – 1922

 

CHAURI CHAURA INCIDENT

The Chauri Chaura incident occurred at Chauri Chaura in the Gorakhpur district of the United Province, British India on 4 February 1922, when a large group of protesters participating in the Non-cooperation movement turned violent, leading to police opening fire. In retaliation the demonstrators attacked and set fire to a police station, killing all of its occupants. The incident led to the deaths of three civilians and 22 or 23 policemen. The Indian National Congress halted the Non-cooperation Movement on the national level as a direct result of this incident.

In response to the killing of the police, the British authorities declared martial law in and around Chauri Chaura. Several raids were conducted and hundreds of people were arrested.

Appalled at the outrage, Gandhi went on a five-day fast as penance for what he perceived as his culpability in the bloodshed. In reflection, Gandhi felt that he had acted too hastily in encouraging people to revolt against the British Raj without sufficiently emphasising the importance of ahimsa (non-violence) and without adequately training the people to exercise restraint in the face of attack. He decided that the Indian people were ill-prepared and not yet ready to do what was needed to achieve independence. Gandhi was also arrested and sentenced to six years of imprisonment but was later released in February 1924, on grounds of his ill health.

On 12 February 1922, the Indian National Congress halted the Non-cooperation Movement on the national level as a direct result of the Chauri Chaura tragedy.

A total of 228 people were brought to trial on charges of “rioting and arson” in conjunction with the Chauri Chaura affair.Of these 6 died while in police custody, while 172 were sentenced to death by hanging following conviction in a trial which lasted eight months.

A storm of protest erupted over the verdicts, which were characterised as “legalised murder” by Indian Communist leader M.N. Roy, who called for a general strike of Indian workers.

On 20 April 1923, the Allahabad High Court reviewed the death verdicts; 19 death sentences were confirmed and 110 were sentenced to prison for life, with the rest sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.

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