After deliberating over how to revive the national movement internally, with that he referred to as his inner voice, the voice of his soul, in January 1930 Bapu declared that the next Non-Cooperation movement would be launched by his defining the Salt Law. As was his habit he wrote to the then Viceroy and made his demands known to the Viceroy he asked for the adoption of all of them by the Colonial power. In reply, the Viceroy sent a very dismissive reply expressing regret that Bapu was taking such confrontationist and uncompromising attitude. Bapu then declared his intention to walk to the seashore and pick up a fist full of salt as a symbolic breaking of the brutal monopoly and unjustified tax imposed by the British on salt produced in India. At first even Congress leaders were not convinced by the effectiveness of such a protest and expressed their opposition to the idea but Bapu listened only to his inner voice and was insistent on that form of protest, finally, everyone fell in line and all arrangements were made for the March and the route was finalised. Initially, the March was to last only six days when on reaching Mahisagar Bapu would have found natural salt and picked it up in defiance. Before leaving the Sabarmati Ashram Bapu took a pledge of not returning to Sabarmati Ashram until he had won freedom for his land.
He handpicked 78 men from amongst the Ashram residents to accompany him on the March. On the Morning of 12th March at the break of dawn he left the Ashram after being given a ceremonial send-off, never to come back again to Sabarmati Ashram. Before he started his March the next day from Aslali, two more joined his band of 78 were 2 more taking the band to 80 +1 Bapu himself. Bapu realised that six days were not enough time to spread his message countrywide and across the world and so the march was extended to last for 26 days and the destination was shifted from Mahisagar to Dandi. The rest, as they say, was historic!
When Bapu, Mohandas Gandhi declared his intention to launch the Non-Co-operation movement by defying the British monopoly on natural salt and the brutal tax that they imposed on salt by marching to Dandi and picking up a fist full of salt in defiance, his idea was strongly opposed by the Congress leadership. Sardar Patel argued with Bapu and warned him about the futility of the protest but when he realised that he wasn’t going to be able to influence Bapu’s resolve, he decided to take the lead in organising the March, decide its route and inform the villagers about Bapu’s intent.
Sardar Patel was the first leader who was arrested while he was making arrangements for the March. Motilal Nehru was a very senior leader of the Congress and its former President, he wrote a 22-page letter to Bapu informing him about the pitfalls of his decisions and why it would turn into a farce and fail. In answer to his plea to reconsider, Bapu replied with a one-line message on a postcard. He said ‘Aadarniya Motilal Ji apka patr padha.
Kar ke Dekhein!’ Motilal Ji accepted Bapu’s decision and after Bapu had broken the Salt Law on 6th April 1930 at Dandi and had given the clarion call for the rest of India to defy the Salt law, at a public rally in Allahabad, Motilalji declared his intention to break the Salt Law the next day. When he reached home after the rally, the Police Commissionaire was waiting for him along with an arrest warrant for Motilal Ji. The last thing that Motilal Ji did before leaving for the prison was to dictate a telegram to Bapu in which he said ‘Adarniya Mahatmaji, Karen se pehle hi dekh liya!’ #KarKeDekhein!
In 2005 when on the 75th Anniversary of the Historic Dandi March Tushar Gandhi decided to re-enact the March tracing its exact route from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi as close to the one walked by Bapu - Mohandas K. Gandhi and his handpicked band of 80 Marchers from Sabarmati Ashram. It was a difficult task because in many places we could not find the historic route because of urban expansion and topographical changes along with a lack of eyewitnesses it made the task difficult. It was then that Tushar felt the critical need to identify the most accurate and possible route and in some manner get it officially recognised. Tushar appealed to the then Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singhji to declare the entire route as a historic heritage route and protect it for eternity along with building hostelling facilities in places where Bapu had halted in 1930 so that those wanting to traverse the Historic Heritage Route would get infrastructure support. Shri Manmohan Singhji and Shreemati Sonia Gandhiji accepted his appeal and on 6th April 2005 while addressing a rally at Dandi he declared the entire route from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad to Saifee Villa in Dandi as a special Historic Heritage Route, the Dandi Path, the only so notified Route in India. The Dandi Path was first christened with a unique number as NH 228 for technical reasons this was changed in 2018 to NH 64 thus Dandi Path, a Historic Heritage Route has been given its unique identity tag NH 64.
#NH 64! #KarkeDekhein!
When Bapu reached Dandi on the evening of 5th April 1930 and next Morning he picked up a fistful of Salt in defiance of the brutally enforced Salt Monopoly by the British Colonial regimen, several other such marches were conducted all over India. One such march from Vedchi to Bhimrad near Surat was being led by Bapu’s 3rd Son Ramdas Gandhi. On 8th April the police swooped down on the Marchers and arrested Ramdas, thinking that the other marchers would scatter after being left leaderless. But an urgent plea was sent to Bapu at Dandi and him along with his second son Manilal and Mithuben Petit reached the marchers camp and on 9th April he picked up a fist full of salt at Bhimrad, once again breaking the Salt Monopoly and defying the Colonial Power.
The photograph of Bapu bending down to pick up salt while his son Manilal and Mithuben Petit stand behind him has wrongly been identified with Dandi. This photograph was actually taken on 9th April 1930 at Bhimrad. Bhimrad is important since it was the only other place after Dandi where Bapu himself picked up salt and broke the Salt Law after Dandi.
Unfortunately, Bhimrad has not got its deserved attention and has been relegated to the pages of history for whom no one shows any reverence. In the history of Amal, Satyagraha Bhimrad is of equal importance as Dandi and Dharasana and several other places in India where the Salt Satyagraha was conducted.