The success of the revolt was a total shock to British authorities and a massive encouragement to millions of Indians. Then on February 4, 1922, in the Chauri Chaura, after violent clashes between the local police and the protestors in which three protestors were killed by police firing, the police chowki (pron.-chau key) (station) was set on fire by the mob, killing 22 of the police occupants.
Gandhi felt that the revolt was veering off-course, and was disappointed that the revolt had lost its non-violent nature. He did not want the movement to degenerate into a contest of violence, with police and angry mobs attacking each other back and forth, victimizing civilians in between. Gandhi appealed to the Indian public for all resistance to end, went on a fast lasting 3 weeks, and called off the mass civil disobedience movement.
The Non-Co-operation Movement was withdrawn because of the Chauri-Chaura incident. Although he had stopped the national revolt single-handedly, on March 10, 1922, Gandhi was arrested. On March 18, 1922, he was imprisoned for two years for publishing seditious materials.
Although most Congress leaders remained firmly behind Gandhi, the disillusioned broke away. The Ali brothers would soon become fierce critics. Motilal Nehru and Chittaranjan Das formed the Swaraj Party, rejecting Gandhi's leadership. Many nationalists had felt that the Non-Cooperation Movement should not have been stopped due to isolated incidents of violence, and most nationalists, while retaining confidence in Gandhi, were discouraged.
Contemporary historians and critics suggest that the movement was successful enough to break the back of British rule, and possibly even result in the independence most Indians strove for until 1947.
But many historians and Indian leaders of the time also defend Gandhi's judgment. If he had not stopped the revolts, India could have descended into a chaotic rebellion which would have alienated common Indians and impress only violent revolutionaries.
Gandhi's commitment to non-violence was redeemed when, between 1930 and 1934, India committed itself to full independence and tens of millions again revolted in the Salt Satyagraha which made India's cause famous worldwide for its unerring adherence to non-violence. The Satyagraha ended in glorious success: the demands of Indians were met, and the Congress Party was recognized as the real representative of the Indian people. The Government of India Act 1935 also gave India its first taste in democratic self-governance.
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