This Day in History (18-Mar-1922) – Mahatma Gandhi sentenced by British authorities to six years in prison for sedition

The Indian National Congress adopted Gandhi’s ideals and in 1920 launched a campaign of non-cooperation against the British Raj. During his first nationwide satyagraha, Gandhi urged the people to boycott British education institutions, law courts, and products (in favor of swadeshi); to resign from government employment; to refuse to pay taxes; and to forsake British titles and honors.  As thousands of people were put in prison the anti-climax came suddenly in February 1922 with an outbreak of mob violence in Chauri Chaura, in Uttar Pradesh, a shocked and pained Gandhi called off the campaign of mass civil disobedience and undertook a fast for five days by way of penance.

Gandhi was arrested near Sabarmati Ashram for writing three articles in Young India on September 29 (Tampering with Loyalty)and December 15 of 1921 (The Puzzle and its Solution), and February 23 of 1922 (Shaking the Manes). He was tried for sedition under Section 124 A before Mr. Broomfield, I.C.S., District & Sessions Judge of Ahmedabad. The charges having been read out, the Judge asked Gandhiji whether he pleaded guilty or claimed to be tried. Gandhiji said : “I plead guilty to all the charges”.

The judge sentenced him to six years’ simple imprisonment stating” ..and I propose, in passing sentence, to follow the precedent of the case, in many respects similar to this case, that was decided some twelve years ago, the case of Mr. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, under the same section. You will not consider it unreasonable, I think, that you should be classed with Mr. Tilak; and that is the sentence two years’ simple imprisonment on each count of the charge, six years in all, which I feel it my duty to pass upon you.” Judge further added that, “if the course of events in India should make it possible for the Government to reduce the period and release you, no one will be better pleased than I”.  Gandhi was not only serene but ‘festively joyful’ during the 100-minute trial. “So far as the sentence is concerned,” he told the judge “I certainly consider that it is as light as any judge would inflict on me; and so far as the whole proceedings are concerned, I must say that I could not have expected greater courtesy.”


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