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Gandhi Assassinated

Today In History : January 30, 2022

On This Day In History
On January 30,
1882, FDR was born
1920, Mazda was founded
1933, Lone Ranger Debut On Radio
1649. King Charles Beheaded For Treason
1835, Assassination Attempt On Andrew Jackson
1933, New Chancellor of Germany
1956, Martin Luther King;s Home Was Bombed
1972, Bloody Sunday In Northern Ireland

On January 30, 1948, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi – Mahatma Gandhi – the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, was assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu extremist.

Born in 1869, Gandhi’s Vaishnava mother was deeply religious and early on exposed her son to Jainism, a morally rigorous Indian religion that advocated nonviolence. In 1888 Gandhi went to England to study law. In 1891, he returned to India, but could not find regular legal work. So in 1893 he accepted a one-year contract in South Africa.

In South Africa Gandhi was subjected to racism and South African laws that restricted the rights of Indian laborers. Gandhi recalled one incident, in which he was removed from a first-class railway compartment and thrown off a train, as his moment of truth. From thereon, he decided to fight injustice and defend his rights as an Indian and a man. When his contract expired, he decided to remain in South Africa and launched a campaign against legislation that would deprive Indians of the right to vote. He formed the Natal Indian Congress and drew international attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa. In 1906 Gandhi organized his first campaign of mass civil disobedience. After seven years of protest, he negotiated a compromise agreement with the South African government.

In 1914, Gandhi returned to India and lived a life of abstinence and spirituality and had influence in Indian politics. He supported Britain in the First World War but he organized mass protests against Britain’s mandatory military draft of Indians. In 1920 he became the leader of the Indian movement for independence. He launched a massive boycott of British goods, services, and institutions in India. But when violence erupted in 1922, he abruptly called off the protest. One month later, he was arrested by the British authorities for sedition, found guilty, and imprisoned.

He was released in 1924 and led an extended fast in protest of Hindu-Muslim violence. In 1928, he returned to national politics when he demanded dominion status for India. In 1930 Gandhi launched a mass protest against the British salt tax, which hurt India’s poor. In his most famous campaign of civil disobedience, Gandhi and his followers marched to the Arabian Sea, where they made their own salt by evaporating sea water. The march, in which Gandhi and 60,000 others were arrested, earned him and his movement new international respect and support.

In 1931, Gandhi attended the Round Table Conference on India in London as the sole representative of the Indian National Congress. The meeting was a great disappointment, and after his return to India he was again imprisoned. While in jail, he led another fast in protest of the British government’s treatment of the “untouchables”—the impoverished and degraded Indians of the lowest tiers of the caste system. In 1934, he left the Indian Congress Party to work for the economic development of India’s many poor.

With the outbreak of World War II, Gandhi called for Indian cooperation with the British war effort in exchange for independence. Britain refused and sought to divide India by supporting conservative Hindu and Muslim groups. In response, Gandhi launched the “Quit India” movement in 1942, calling for a total British withdrawal. Gandhi and other nationalist leaders were imprisoned until 1944.

In 1945, a new government came to power in Britain, and negotiations for India’s independence began. Gandhi wanted a unified India, but the Muslim League disagreed. Britain eventually agreed to create two new independent states of India and Pakistan on August 15, 1947. Bloody violence soon broke out between Hindus and Muslims in India.

In an effort to end India’s religious strife, he resorted to fasts and visits to the troubled areas. He was on one such vigil in New Delhi when a Hindu extremist who objected to Gandhi’s tolerance for the Muslims, fatally shot him. Known as Mahatma, or “the great soul,” during his lifetime, Gandhi’s persuasive methods of civil disobedience influenced leaders of civil rights movements around the world, including Martin Luther King, Jr. in the United States.

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