India's independence struggle - Study Material 3 - World War I & India | Gandhiji's early career | Khilafat & Non-Cooperation Movements


As the independence movement raged on, the First World War arrived in 1914. Mahatma Gandhi landed in India in 1915 and our freedom struggle took a new direction. Then came the various Satyagrahas that gave Gandhi his indomitable stature. Then came Khilafat Movement, and finally the Rowlatt Act and its opposition.


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We now cover a vast ground - (1) First, Indian independence movement and the First World War, (2) The early career of Gandhiji, and finally (3) The Khilafat Movement and the Non-Cooperation Movement (1919-'22).

A. World War I and India

A.1 Introduction,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comIn June 1914, the First World War broke out between Great Britain, France, Russia and Japan on one side (joined later by Italy and USA), and Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey on the other. In India the years of the War marked the maturing of nationalism. The reaction of the Indian nationalist leaders went through two phases. In the beginning, many leaders including Lokamanya Tilak, who had been released in June 1914, decided to support the war effort of the government in the genuine belief that Britain would be grateful and repay India's loyalty with enabling provisions towards self-government. What they did not realize was that protection of colonies was the reason different powers were fighting the First World War. This content prepared by Civils Tapasya Portal by PT's IAS Academy

A.2 The Home Rule Leagues,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comHowever, many Indian leaders were able to realize that the British Government was not likely to give any real concessions unless popular pressure was brought to bear upon it. A mass political movement was necessary to bring pressure on the British. Some other factors were leading the nationalist movement in the same direction. The World War destroyed the myth of the racial superiority of western nations over the Asians and also led to increased misery among the poorer classes of Indians. The British raised the money to finance the War by increasing taxes. Prices of essential commodities were also soaring due the economic policies of the British. The people, therefore, were ready to join any mass movement of protest against the British.

After the Surat split in 1907, the Indian National Congress under the leadership of the Moderates had become a passive and inert political organization with no genuine political work among the people to its credit. Therefore, two Home Rule Leagues were started in 1915-'16, one under the leadership of Lokamanya Tilak and the other under the leadership of Annie Besant, an English admirer of Indian culture and the Indian people, and
S. Subramaniya Iyer.,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comMrs. Annie Besant, an Irish lady, had come to India as a member of the Theosophical Society. She later joined the Congress. She had established a Home Rule League in London in 1914 and finally founded a Home Rule League on 15 September 1916 with its headquarters at Adyar near Madras.

Tilak's league was founded on 28th April 1916 with headquarters at Poona. Both the leagues cooperated with each other and therefore divided among themselves their areas of activities. While Tilak's Home Rule League confined its operations to Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Berar, Besant's League worked in the rest of the country. Tilak meanwhile kept up pressure on the Moderates for readmission into the Congress. He knew that a mass based movement would need support of the Congress.This content prepared by Civils Tapasya Portal by PT's IAS Academy

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    • The two leagues carried out intense propaganda all over the country in favor of the demand for the grant of Home Rule or self-government to India after the War. It was during this agitation that Tilak gave the popular slogan: "Swaraj (Home Rule) is my birthright, and I will have it". Both Tilak and Besant toured all over the country and carried out the message of the Home Rule among the masses. 
    • They tried to spread the message through newspapers, mass meetings and distribution of leaflets. Tilak, through his newspaper 'Young India' and Besant, through her newspaper 'New India' tried to stir the popular sentiment. The movement attracted liberal readers like Motilal Nehru and Tej Bahadur Sapru who became its members. Thus, the Home Rule Movement became a powerful movement during the course of the First World War. 
    • The movement aimed that self-government be granted to India within the British dominions during the course of the war. It was within constitutional limits. The two Leagues made rapid progress. Many moderate nationalists, who were dissatisfied with the Congress inactivity, joined the Horne Rule agitation. Naturally, the Home Rule Leagues soon attracted the British Indian government's attention and ire.

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A.3 The end of the Home Rule movement,,
The British tried to suppress the movement by force. Mrs. Besant was forced to close the publication of 'New India' and was sentenced to home imprisonment. The movement suddenly acquired an all India character when Mrs. Besant and Tilak were arrested on their refusal to furnish securities and personal bonds. The movement instilled in the people the spirit of patriotism, fearlessness, self respect and sacrifice. Finally, the government had to bow down and in 1917 by Montague's declaration accepted self government for India by gradual process as its aim. The Home Rule movement merged with the Congress and Mrs. Annie Besant was elected the President of the Congress in 1917 (the first lady President). Congress also accepted the goal of 'Home Rule'. This was the biggest success of the movement.,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comBut the passing of the Government of India Act of 1919, the division of the Congress on the issue of the Act, departure of  Tilak to London for a legal case and acceptance by Mrs. Besant of the new scheme of reforms of 1919 weakened the movement. Although the Home Rule Movement failed to achieve its aim, it kept the fire of nationalism burning among the hearts of the Indians during the course of the War when the Congress had failed to give any direction to the people. Regarding the significance of the Home Rule Movement Prof. S.R. Mehrotra observes, "The Home Rule Leagues created a significant impact on the national movement in India. For the first time an agitation had been aroused on a nation-wide scale and a network of political committees covered much of India."

A.4 The Komagata Maru incident (1914) and the Ghadar Party,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThe Komagata Maru was a Japanese steamship that sailed from Punjab, India to Hong Kong, Shanghai, China; Yokohama, Japan; and then to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1914, carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, India. Of them 20 were admitted to Canada, but the 356 other passengers were not allowed to land in Canada, and the ship was forced to return to India. The passengers consisted of 340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims, and 12 Hindus, all British subjects. This was one of several incidents in the history of early 20th century involving exclusion laws in both Canada and the United States designed to keep out immigrants of only Asian origin.

The Komagata Maru incident was widely cited at the time by Indian groups to highlight discrepancies in Canadian immigration laws. Further, the inflamed passions in the wake of the incident were widely cultivated by the Indian revolutionary organisation, the Ghadar Party, to rally support for its aims. In a number of meetings ranging from California in 1914 to the Indian diaspora, prominent Ghadarites including Barkatullah, Tarak Nath Das, and Sohan Singh used the incident as a rallying point to recruit members for the Ghadar movement, most notably in support of promulgating plans to coordinate a massive uprising in India. Lack of support from the general population caused these plans to come to nothing.This content prepared by Civils Tapasya Portal by PT's IAS Academy

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    • In the 1900s Punjab was facing an economic depression because of which large scale immigration happened to the Pacific coast of North America. 
    • In response, the Canadian government armed itself with  a series of legislations aimed at limiting the entry of South Asians into Canada, and restricting the political rights of those already in the country. 
    • The Komagata Maru incident was the result of these policies. The Punjabi community had hitherto been an important loyal force for the British Empire and the Commonwealth (it is worth noting that the British Indian army after 1857 revolt had recruited large number of Punjabi soldiers due to their loyalty), and the community had expected the British to honour their loyalty by giving them equal rights as extended to British and white immigrants. 
    • But the anti immigration legislations fed growing discontent, protests and anti-colonial sentiments within the community. Faced with increasingly difficult situations, the community began organizing itself into political groups. 
    • A large number of Punjabis also moved to the United States, but they encountered similar political and social problems.,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThe Indian Independence League was formed in Portland, Oregon by Indian students of the likes of P S Khankhoje, Kanshi Ram, and Tarak Nath Das. Nationalistic work started gaining momentum from this time. Khankhoje's works also brought him close to Indian nationalists in United States at the time, including Tarak Nath Das. He met Lala Hardayal in 1911. He also enrolled at one point in a West Coast military academy. The Ghadar Party, initially the Pacific Coast Hindustan Association, was formed in 1913 in the United States under the leadership of Har Dayal, with Sohan Singh Bhakna as its president. It drew members from Indian immigrants, largely from Punjab. Many of its members were also from the University of California at Berkeley including Dayal, Tarak Nath Das, Kartar Singh Sarabha and V. G. Pingle. The party quickly gained support from Indian expatriates, especially in the United States, Canada and Asia. Ghadar meetings were held in Los Angeles, Oxford, Vienna, Washington, D.C., and Shanghai.     Ghadar's ultimate objective was to overthrow British colonial authority in India by means of an armed revolution. Its foremost strategy was to entice Indian soldiers to revolt. Therefore, in November 1913 Ghadar established the Yugantar Ashram press in San Francisco. The press produced the 'Hindustan Ghadar' newspaper and other nationalist literature.

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    • At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the Ghadarites decided to send arms and men to India to start an uprising with the help of soldiers and local revolutionaries. Several thousand men volunteered to go back to India. Millions of dollars were contributed to pay for their expenses. Many gave their life-long savings and sold lands and other property. The Ghadarites also contacted Indian soldiers in the Far East. 
    • South-East Asia and all over India and persuaded several regiments to rebel. Finally, 21 February 1915 was fixed as the date for an armed revolt in the Punjab. Unfortunately, the authorities came to know of these plans and took immediate action. The rebellious regiments were disbanded and their leaders were either imprisoned or hanged. For example, 12 men of the 23rd Cavalry were executed. 
    • The leaders and members of the Ghadar Party in the Punjab were arrested on a mass scale and tried. Forty-two of them were hanged, 114 were transported for life, and 93 were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Many of them, after their release, founded the Kirti and Communist movements in the Punjab. Some of the prominent Ghadar leaders were: Baba Gurmukh Singh, Kartar Singh Saraba, Sohan Singh Bhakna, RahmatAli Shah, Bhai Parmanand, and Mohammad Barkatullah.,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThe Ghadar movemented inspired many people to rebel against the British. In Singapore, men of the 5th Light Infantry at Singapore revolted under the leadership of Jamadar Chisti Khan and Subedar Dundey Khan. They were crushed after a bitter battle in which many died. Thirty-seven others were publicly executed, while 41 were transported for life. In 1915, during an unsuccessful revolutionary attempt, Jatin Mukerjea popularly known as 'Bagha Jatin' gave his life fighting a battle with the police at Balasore. Rash Bihari Bose, Raja Mahendra Pratap, Lala Hardayal, Abdul Rahim, Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi, Champakaraman Pillai, Sardar Singh Rana, and Madame Cama were other prominent Indians who carried on revolutionary activities and propaganda outside India, where they gathered the support of socialists and other anti-imperialist powers.

A.5 Lucknow Session of the Congress (1916),, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThe nationalists soon saw the necessity of putting up a united front before the British. The growing nationalist feeling in the country and the urge for national unity produced two historic developments at the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in 1916. Firstly, the two wings of the Congress were reunited. The old controversies had lost their meaning and the split in the Congress had led to political inactivity. Tilak, released from jail in 1914, immediately saw the change in the situation and in order to unify the two streams of Congressmen diluted his stand somewhat. He declared: "I may state once for all that we are trying in India, as the Irish Home-rulers have been all along doing in Ireland, for a reform of the system of administration and not for the overthrow of Government; and I have no hesitation in saying that the acts of violence which have been committed in the different parts of India are not only repugnant to me, but have, in my opinion, only unfortunately retarded to a great extent, the pace of our political progress."This content prepared by Civils Tapasya Portal by PT's IAS Academy,,
The moderates were compelled by the rising tide of nationalism to welcome the old leaders back into the Congress. The Lucknow Congress was the first united Congress since 1907. It demanded further constitutional reforms as a step towards self-government. The unity between the Congress and the League was brought about by the signing of the Congress-League Pact, known popularly as the Lucknow Pact. An important role in bringing the two together was played by Lokamanya Tilak and Mohammed Ali Jinnah because the two believed that India could win self-government only through Hindu-Muslim unity. Tilak declared at the time: "It has been said, gentlemen, by some that we Hindus have yielded too much to our Mohammedan brethren. I am sure I represent the sense of the Hindu community all over India when I say that we could not have yielded too much. I would not care if the rights of self-government are granted to the Mohammedan community only. ... I would not care if they are granted to the lower and the lowest classes of the Hindu population. ... When we have to fight against a third party, it is a very important thing that we stand on this platform united, united in race, united in religion, as regard all different shades of political creed."

The Lucknow Pact marked an important step forward in Hindu-Muslim unity. Unfortunately, it did not involve the Hindu and Muslim masses and it accepted the harmful principle of separate electorates. It was focused on bringing together the educated Hindus and Muslims as political entities without secularisation of their political outlook. The Lucknow Pact, therefore, left the way open to the future resurgence of communalism in Indian politics.,,

The developments at Lucknow however had immediate effect. The unity between the moderates and the extremist on one hand and between the Congress and the Muslim League on the other hand aroused great political enthusiasm in the country. Even the British Government felt it necessary to placate the nationalists. Previously, it had relied heavily on repression to quell the nationalist agitation. Large numbers of radical nationalists and revolutionaries had been jailed or interned under the notorious Defence of India Act and other similar regulations. The government now decided to appease nationalist opinion. On 20 August 1917 they announced that their policy in India was "the gradual development of self-governing institutions with a view to the progressive realisation of Responsible Government of India as an integral part of the British Empire". In July 1918 the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms were announced. But it was a case of too little too late. The Indian national movement was soon to enter its third and last phase - the era of mass struggle or the Gandhian Era.,,,,

B. Gandhiji's early career

B.1 Introduction,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThe third and the last phase of the national movement began in 1919 when the era of popular mass movements was initiated. The two Home Rule Leagues - started by Tilak and Annie Besant - indeed played a major role in seeding this sentiment. The Indian people waged perhaps the greatest mass struggle in modern world history and finally, India's national revolution was victorious. This content prepared by Civils Tapasya Portal by PT's IAS Academy 

B.2 Gandhi's South Africa experience,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comMohandas Karamchand Gandhi (M.K.Gandhi) was born on October 2nd, 1869 at Porbandar in Gujarat. After finishing his legal education in Britain, he went to South Africa to practise law on the invitation of an Indian businessman.

In 1893 he arrived in Durban where he remained for a week before leaving for Pretoria by train. He purchased a first-class ticket, boarded the train and started work on his lawsuit. During the journey a white passenger complained about sharing a compartment with a 'coolie' and Gandhi was asked to move to a third-class carriage. On his refusal he was forcibly removed from the train at Pietermaritzburg Station. Here he spent the night and later he described the event as the most prominent influence on his political future.,,
Gandhiji's experience in South Africa prepared him for the struggle that was to follow in India. It was here that the weapons of ahimsa and satyagraha were sharpened. During the local and then national struggles in India, Gandhiji often recalled his South African experience as a frame of reference for the direction of the struggles in India. In South Africa, Gandhiji became convinced of the invincibility of non-violent resistance to evil, if properly led. He developed strong convictions on the need for the elimination of untouchability, development of Hindu-Muslim unity, national language, prohibition, respect for manual labour, promotion of spinning and cottage industries etc.,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comIn South Africa, the discrimination and humiliation the Indian populace were subject to by the white rulers could be seen clearly. A year after he arrived in South Africa as a 23 year old barrister, Gandhiji decided to devote himself to serving the Indian community. He established the Natal Indian Congress in 1894 and the Transvaal British Indian Association in 1903. For over a decade, he prepared numerous petitions and memoranda, led deputations to the authorities, wrote letters to the press and tried to promote public understanding and support in South Africa, as well as in India and Britain for the Indian cause.

The Transvaal Asiatic Ordinance of 1906, which required all Indians to register and carry passes eroded Gandhiji's faith in the fairness of the British and in Imperial principles. The Ordinance was denied Royal assent after an Indian deputation (Gandhiji and Haji Ojer Ali) appealed to the Imperial authorities in London. But after self government was granted to Transvaal at the beginning of 1907, it enacted the terms of the Ordinance in the Asiatic Registration Act of 1907.This content prepared by Civils Tapasya Portal by PT's IAS Academy

This led to the first satyagraha in 1907. This initial phase of the campaign ended at the end of January 1908 when General Smuts and Gandhiji reached a provisional settlement under which the Indians would register voluntarily and the Government would repeal the law.

However, in July 1908 the Government reneged on its promise after voluntary registrations had been done and the satyagraha resumed.  Over two thousand people, from the small Indian population of less than ten thousand in the Transvaal, as well as some Indians from the Natal, went to prison defying the Registration Act and an immigration law which restricted inter-provincial movement by Indians. The movement was suspended in 1911 during talks with the government of the newly established Union of South Africa.,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThe Union Government repudiated a promise it made to Gopal Krishna Gokhale, in 1912, to abolish the £3 annual tax which Natal had imposed on indentured labourers who did not re-indenture or return to India at the expiration of their contracts. And in 1913, the Cape Supreme Court declared virtually all Indian marriages invalid, by deciding that only marriages performed under Christian rites and duly registered were valid. The Government ignored appeals by the Indian community for legislation to validate the marriages.

Satyagraha was resumed both in the Transvaal and in Natal with additional demands of abolition of the £3 tax and the validation of marriages.

During this last stage, the movement was joined by workers and women who were directly affected by the £3 tax and the judgment on marriages, and it became a mass movement. People of all religions and occupations came together in this righteous struggle. Gandhiji and his colleagues were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. The strikers were rendered leaderless. A notable aspect of this phase of the campaign was the active participation of women. Gandhiji's wife Kasturba who was then in poor health and living on a diet of fruit alone led the way along with several relatives.

Public opinion all over India was aroused. The Viceroy, Lord Hardinge, expressed sympathy with the satyagrahis: the Indian and British Governments intervened and the South African Government was forced to negotiate. The satyagraha ended with the Smuts-Gandhi agreement of June 30, 1914, under which all the demands of the Satyagraha were conceded. The weapon of Satyagraha was soon to be used on a massive scale.)

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B.3 The Power of Satyagraha,,
Gandhi soon became the leader of the struggle against these conditions and during 1893-1914 was engaged in a heroic though unequal struggle against the racist authorities of South Africa. It was during this long struggle lasting nearly two decades that he evolved the technique of satyagraha based on truth and non-violence. The ideal satyagrahi was to be truthful and perfectly peaceful, but at the same time he would refuse to submit to what he considered wrong. He would accept suffering willingly in the course of struggle against the wrong-doer. This struggle was to be part of his love of truth. But even while resisting evil, he would love the evil-doer. Hatred would be alien to the nature of a true satyagrahi. He would, moreover, be utterly fearless. 
He would never bow down before evil whatever the consequences. In Gandhi's eyes, non-violence was not a weapon of the weak and the cowardly. Only the strong and the brave could practise it.,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comAn important aspect of Gandhi's outlook was that he would not separate thought and practice, belief and action. His truth and non-violence were meant for daily living and not merely for high-sounding speeches and writings. He also had immense faith in the capacity of the common people to fight.

B.4 Gandhi's return to India in 1915,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comGandhiji returned to India in 1915 at the age of 46 and almost immediately was called upon to join the Congress. But he decided that it was important for him to understand the country first. For this he spent an entire year travelling all over India. In 1916, he founded the Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad where his friends and followers were to learn and practise the ideas of truth and non-violence. He also set out to experiment with his new method of struggle.This content prepared by Civils Tapasya Portal by PT's IAS Academy

B.5 The 1917 Champaran Satyagraha,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comGandhi's Indian experiment began in 1917 in Champaran, a district in Bihar. The peasants on the indigo plantations in the district were compelled to grow indigo on at least 3/20th of their land by the European planters and to sell it at prices fixed by them, which were very low as compared to market price. Similar conditions had prevailed earlier in Bengal, but as a result of the indigo uprising during 1859-'61 the peasants there had won their freedom from the indigo planters.

Having heard of Gandhi's campaigns in South Africa, several peasants of Champaran invited him to come and help them. Accompanied by Babu Rajendra Prasad, Mazhar-ul-Huq, J.B. Kripalani, Narhari Parekh and Mahadev Desai, Gandhiji reached Champaran in April 1917 and began to conduct a detailed inquiry into the condition of the peasantry. The infuriated district officials ordered him to leave Champaran, but he defied the order and was willing to face trial and imprisonment. This forced the government to cancel its earlier order and to appoint a committee of inquiry on which Gandhiji served as a member.,,, aggravated by Gandhi's popularity and the way he stirred up the peasants, the European planters began a "poisonous agitation" against Gandhi, where they spread false reports and rumors about Gandhi and his co-workers. Gandhi sent information to the newspapers, but they were never published.

By June 12, Gandhi and his co-workers had recorded over 8,000 statements, and began to compile an official report. They also held several meetings with planters and peasants in various places such as Bettiah and Motihari. The gatherings were somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 people. On October 3, they submitted a unanimous report favouring the peasants to the Government. On October 18, the Government published its resolution, essentially accepting almost all of the report's recommendations. On November 2, Mr. Maude introduced the Champaran Agrarian Bill that was passed and became the Champaran Agrarian Law (Bihar and Orissa Act I of 1918). The government accepted the laws in March of 1918.) This content prepared by Civils Tapasya Portal by PT's IAS Academy

B.6 The 1918 Ahmedabad Mill Strike

In 1918, Mahatma Gandhi intervened in a dispute between the workers and mill-owners of Ahmedabad. In February-March 1918, there was a dispute between the mill owners and workers over the issue of Plague Bonus of 1917. The Mill owners wanted to withdraw the bonus whereas the workers were demanding a 50% hike in wages. The mill owners were ready to give only a 20% bonus. He advised the workers to go on strike and to demand a 35 percent increase in wages. But he insisted that the workers should not use violence against the employers during the strike. He undertook a fast unto death to strengthen the workers' resolve to continue the strike. But his fast also put pressure on the mill-owners who relented on the fourth day and agreed to give the workers a 35 per cent increase in wages.

(In Kheda district of Gujarat, the peasants mostly owned their own lands, and were economically better-off than their compatriots in Bihar. However, the district was plagued by poverty, scant resources, the social evils of alcoholism and untouchability, and overall British indifference and hegemony. A terrible famine struck the district and a large part of Gujarat, and had virtually destroyed the agrarian economy. The poor peasants had barely enough to feed themselves, but the British government of the Bombay Presidency insisted that the farmers not only pay full taxes, but also pay the 23% increase stated to take effect that very year. The district also saw crop failure in 1918.,,

Though civil groups were sending petitions and editorials were being published against the exorbitant taxes, no effect was seen on the British. Gandhi proposed satyagraha - non-violence, mass civil disobedience. While it was strictly non-violent, Gandhi was proposing real action, a real revolt that the oppressed peoples of India were dying to undertake. Gandhi also insisted that neither the protestors in Bihar nor in Gujarat allude to or try to propagate the concept of Swaraj, or Independence. This was not about political freedom, but a revolt against abject tyranny amidst a terrible humanitarian disaster. While accepting participants and help from other parts of India, Gandhi insisted that no other district or province revolt against the Government, and that the Indian National Congress not get involved apart from issuing resolutions of support, to prevent the British from giving it cause to use extensive suppressive measures and brand the revolts as treason.)

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B.8 Gandhiji's evolution as a leader

These experiences brought Gandhiji in close contact with the masses whose interests he actively espoused all his life. In fact, he was the first Indian nationalist leader who identified his life and his manner of living with the life of the common people. In time he became the symbol of poor India, nationalist India, and the Indian freedom movement. Other causes very dear to Gandhi's heart were Hindu-Muslim unity, the fight against untouchability and the elevation of the status of women in the country. He once summed up his aims as follows:

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    • "I shall work for an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country, in whose making they have an effective voice, an India in which there shall be no high class and low class of people, an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony ...There can be no room in such an India for the curse of untouchabitity ...Women will enjoy the same rights as men ...This is the India of my dreams."
    • Though a devout Hindu, Gandhi's cultural and religious outlook was universalist and not narrow. "Indian culture", he wrote, "is neither Hindu, Islamic, nor any other, wholly. It is a fusion of all". He wanted Indians to have deep roots in their own culture but at the same time to acquire the best that other world cultures had to offer. 
    • He said: "I want the culture of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. I refuse to live in other people's houses as an interloper, a beggar or a slave."

B.9 The 1919 Satyagraha Against the Rowlatt Act,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comIn 1919 a new Act was passed by the British government to give themselves greater power over the people of India. This Act was called the Rowlatt Act and was named after the Rowlatt Commission which had sent recommendations to the Imperial Legislative Council. The Act was also known as the "Black Act" or "Black Bill" by the Indians who protested it. This law was strongly opposed by the people of India because it gave the British government even more authority over them. This new Act allowed the British to arrest and imprison anyone without a trial if they were thought to be plotting against the British. The Viceroy also had the power to silence the press with this new Act.

Along with other nationalists, Gandhiji was also opposed to the Rowlatt Act. In February 1919, he founded the Satyagraha Sabha whose members took a pledge to disobey the Act and court arrest and imprisonment. This was a new method of struggle. The nationalist movement till date, whether under moderate or extremist leaderships, had confined its struggle to agitation. Big meetings and demonstrations, refusal to cooperate with the government, boycott of foreign cloth and schools, or individual acts of terrorism were the only forms of political work known to the nationalists. Satyagraha immediately raised the movement to a new, higher level. Nationalists could now act, instead of merely agitating and giving only verbal expression to their dissatisfaction and anger.

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    • This was the beginning of bringing the masses of peasants, artisans and the urban poor into the Indian struggle against the British. 
    • Gandhiji asked the nationalist workers to go to the villages. He increasingly turned the face of nationalism towards the common man and the symbol of this transformation was to be khadi, or hand-spun and handwoven cloth, which soon became the uniform of the nationalists. 
    • He spun daily to emphasise the dignity of labour and the value of self-reliance. India's salvation would come, he said, when the masses were wakened from their sleep and became active in politics. 
    • The people responded magnificently to Gandhi's call. This was a huge turning point for Indian politics.

March and April 1919 witnessed a remarkable political awakening in India. Almost the entire country came to life. There were hartals, strikes, processions and demonstrations. The slogans of Hindu-Muslim unity filled the air. The entire country was electrified with a sense of patriotism and positivity. The Indian people were no longer willing to submit to the degradation of foreign rule.

B.10 The 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comFearful of the rise of a new pan-India agitation, the British Indian government was determined to suppress the mass agitation against the Rowlatt Act. In a display of cowardice and barbarism, it repeatedly lathi-charged and fired upon unarmed demonstrators in Bombay, Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Delhi and also in other cities. Gandhiji gave a call for a mighty hartal on 06th April 1919. The people responded with unprecedented enthusiasm. The government decided to meet the popular protest with repression, particularly in the Punjab. A large but unarmed crowd had gathered on 13 April 1919 at Amritsar (Punjab) in Jallianwala Bagh, to protest against the arrest of their popular leaders, Dr.Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr. Satyapal. General Dyer, the military commander of Amritsar, decided to terrorise the people of Amritsar into complete submission. Jallianwala Bagh was a large open space which was enclosed on three sides by buildings and had only one exit. He surrounded the Bagh (garden) with his army unit, closed the exit with his troops, and then ordered his men to shoot into the trapped crowd with rifles and machine-guns. They fired till their ammunition was exhausted. Thousands were killed and wounded. After this massacre, martial law was proclaimed throughout Punjab and the people had to face the most brutal atrocities. This was just one of the incidents that created a reign of terror in Punjab. A wave of horror ran through the country as the knowledge of the Punjab happenings spread. People saw as if in a flash the ugliness and brutality that lay behind the facade of civilisation that imperialism and foreign rule professed. The people of India, for the first time, saw the naked ambition of the British, which completely exposed their shamelessness and brutality.

Popular shock was expressed by the great poet and humanist Rabindranath Tagore who renounced his knighthood in protest and declared: 

"The time has come when badges of honour make our shame glaring in their incongruous context of humiliation, and I for my part wish to stand shorn of all special distinctions, by the side of my countrymen who, for their so-called insignificance, are liable to suffer degradation not fit for human beings."

India and the Indian people had entered the final phase of the freedom struggle. The British, after centuries of oppression and exploitation, were to get a taste of Gandhi's remedial medicine, which was to lead to their final expulsion from the subcontinent, two decades later.,,

C. Khilafat & Non-Cooperation Movements

C.1 Introduction,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.com1919 was the year of serious discontent for the Indian people. The Rowlatt Act, the Jallianwala Bagh incident and imposition of martial law in Punjab convinced the Indians that the British had no intentions of fulfilling their wartime promises. The Montague-Chelmsford reforms, announced at the fag end of 1919 did not find many takers amongst the Indians. The disappointment increased further when the people found out that the Hunter Committee which was appointed to enquire into the Jallianwala Bagh incident was a mere façade.,,,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThe younger generation of educated Muslims and a section of traditional scholars and theologians had been growing more and more radical and nationalist. The Lucknow Pact (signed by both the Congress and  All India Muslim League) had already united the Hindus and Muslims and had provided a common political ground. The nationalist agitation against the Rowlatt Act had touched all the Indian people alike and brought Hindus and Muslims together in political agitation. For example, as if to declare before the world the principle of Hindu-Muslim unity in political action, Swami Shradhanand, a staunch Arya Samaj leader, was asked by the Muslims to preach from the pulpit of the Jama Masjid at Delhi while Dr. Kitchlew, a Muslim, was given the keys of the Golden Temple, the Sikh shrine at Amritsar.

At Amritsar such political unity had been brought about by governmental repression. Hindus and Muslims were handcuffed together, made to crawl together, and drink water together, when ordinarily a Hindu would not drink water from the hands of a Muslim. In this atmosphere, the nationalist trend among the Muslims took the form of the Khilafat agitation.

C.2 The Khilafat Movement,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThe politically conscious Muslims were critical of the treatment meted out to the Ottoman (or Turkish) Empire by Britain and its allies who had partitioned it and taken away Thrace from Turkey proper. The British Premier, Lloyd George, had declared: "Nor are we, fighting to deprive Turkey of the rich and renowned lands of Asia Minor and Thrace which are predominantly Turkish in race".  The Muslims felt that the position of the Sultan of Turkey, who was also regarded by many as the Caliph or the religious head of the Muslims, over the religious places should not be undermined. A Khilafat Committee was soon formed under the leadership of the Ali Brothers (Mohammed Ali and Shaukat Ali), Maulana Azad, Hakim Ajmal Khan and Hasrat Mohani.

C.3 The Khilafat Congress, Delhi, 1919

The All-India Khilafat Conference held at Delhi in November 1919 decided to withdraw all cooperation from the government if their demands were not met. Mahatma Gandhi was a special invitee to this conference. The Congress leaders, including Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi, viewed the Khilafat agitation as a golden opportunity for cementing Hindu-Muslim unity and bringing, the Muslim masses into the national movement. They realised that different sections of the people - Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians, capitalists and workers, peasants and artisans, women and youth, and tribal people and people of different regions - would come into the national movement through the experience of fighting for their own different demands and seeing that the alien regime stood in opposition to them. Gandhiji looked upon the Khilafat agitation as "an opportunity of uniting Hindus and Mohammedans as would not arise in a hundred years". This content prepared by Civils Tapasya Portal by PT's IAS Academy

C.4 Gandhi's declaration regarding non-cooperation,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comEarly in 1920 he declared that the Khilafat question overshadowed that of the constitutional reforms and the Punjab wrongs and announced that he would lead a movement of non-cooperation if the terms of peace with Turkey did not satisfy the Indian Muslims. In June, 1920, The Khilafat committee at Ahmedabad accepted Gandhiji's suggestion of non-cooperation and asked him to lead the movement.,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comDiscontent was brewing in the Congress also. The government had refused to annul the Rowlatt Act, make amends for the atrocities in the Punjab, or satisfy the nationalist urge for self-government. In the circumstances, it agreed to consider non-cooperation.

The movement was formally launched on 01st August, 1920. Tilak passed away in the early hours of 1st August. The day of mourning and the launching of the movement merged as people all over the country observed hartal and took out processions. The Congress met in a special session in September 1920 at Calcutta. The Congress supported Gandhi's plan for non-cooperation with the government till the Punjab and Khilafat wrongs were removed and Swaraj established. The people were asked to boycott government educational institutions, law courts and legislatures; to give up foreign cloth, to surrender officially conferred titles and honours, and to practise hand-spinning and hand-weaving for producing khadi.

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    • Later the programme would include resignation from government service and mass civil disobedience, including refusal to pay taxes. 
    • Congressmen immediately withdrew from elections, and the voters too largely boycotted them. This decision to defy in a most peaceful manner the government and its laws was endorsed at the annual session of the Congress held at Nagpur in December 1920. 
    • "The British people will have to beware," declared Gandhiji at Nagpur, "that if they do not want to do justice, it will be the bounden duty of every Indian to destroy the Empire". The Nagpur session also made changes in the constitution of the Congress. Provincial Congress Committees were reorganised on the basis of linguistic areas. 
    • The Congress was now to be led by a Working Committee of 15 members, including the president and the secretaries. 
    • This would enable the Congress to function as a continuous political organisation and would provide it with the machinery for implementing its resolutions. 
    • The Congress organisation was to reach down to the villages, small towns and mohallas, and its membership fee was reduced to 4 annas (25 paise of today) per year to enable the rural and urban poor to become members.

C.5 Evolution of the Indian National Congress,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThe character of the Congress had changed. From being a pacifist, it had become the organiser and leader of the masses in their national struggle for freedom from foreign rule. There was a general feeling of exhilaration. Political freedom might come years later but the people had begun to shake off their slavish mentality. It was as if the very air that India breathed had changed. The joy and the enthusiasm of those days was something special, for the sleeping giant was beginning to awake. Moreover, Hindus and Muslims were marching together shoulder to shoulder. But some of the older leaders of the Congress did not like the new turn the national movement had taken. They opposed the organisation of the mass hartals, strikes, satyagraha, breaking of laws, courting of imprisonment and other forms of militant struggle. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, G.S. Khaparde, Bipin Chandra Pal and Annie Besant were among the prominent leaders who left the Congress during this period.,,
The years 1921 and 1922 were to witness an unprecedented movement of the Indian people. Thousands of students left government schools and colleges and joined national schools and colleges. It was at this time that the Jamia Millia Islamia (National Muslim University) of Aligarh, the Bihar Vidyapith, the Kashi Vidyapith and the Gujarat Vidyapith came into existence. The Jamia Millia later shifted to Delhi. Acharya Narendra Dev, Dr. Zakir Husain and Lala Lajpat Rai were among the many distinguished teachers at these national colleges and universities. Hundreds of lawyers, including Chittaranjan Das, popularly known as Deshbandhu, Motilal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Saifuddin Kitchlew, C. Rajagopalachari, Sardar Patel, T. Prakasam and Asaf Ali gave up their lucrative legal practice. The Tilak Swarajya Fund was started to finance the Non-Cooperation movement and within six months over a crore of rupees were subscribed. Women showed great enthusiasm and freely offered their jewellery. Boycott of foreign cloth became a mass movement. Huge bonfires of foreign cloth were organised all over the land; Khadi soon became a symbol of freedom. In July 1921, the All-India Khilafat Committee passed a resolution declaring that no Muslim should serve in the British Indian army. In September the Ali Brothers were arrested for 'sedition'. Immediately, Gandhiji gave a call for repetition of this resolution at hundreds of meetings. Fifty members of the All India Congress Committee issued a similar declaration that no Indian should serve a government which degraded India socially, economically, and politically. The Congress Working Committee issued a similar statement.

C.6 Beginning of Civil Disobedience,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThe Congress now decided to raise the movement to a higher level. It permitted the Congress Committee of a province to start civil disobedience or disobedience of British laws, including non-payment of taxes, if in its opinion the people were ready for it.

The government again took recourse to repression. The activities of the Congress and Khilafat volunteers, who had begun to unite Hindu and Muslim political workers at lower levels, were declared illegal. By the end of 1921 all important nationalist leaders, except Gandhiji, were behind bars along with 3000 others. In November 1921 huge demonstrations greeted the Prince of Wales, heir to the British throne, during his tour of India. He had been asked by the government to come to India to encourage loyalty among the people and the princes. In Bombay, the government tried to suppress the demonstration, killing 53 persons and wounding about 400 more. The annual session of the Congress, meeting at Ahmedabad in December 1921, passed a resolution affirming "the fixed determination of the Congress to continue the programme of non-violent non-cooperation with greater vigour than hitherto ... till the Punjab and Khilafat wrongs were redressed and Swarajya is established".

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    • The resolution urged all Indians, and in particular students, "quietly and without any demonstration to offer themselves for arrest by belonging to the volunteer organisations". All such satyagrahis were to take a pledge to "remain non-violent in word and deed", to promote unity among Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians, and Jews, to practise swadeshi and wear only khadi. 
    • A Hindu volunteer was also to undertake an active fight against untouchability. The resolution also called upon the people to organise, whenever possible, individual or mass civil disobedience along non-violent lines.

The people now waited impatiently for the call for further struggle. The movement had, moreover, spread deep among the masses. Thousands of peasants in U.P. and Bengal had responded to the call of non-cooperation. In parts of U.P., tenants refused to pay illegal dues to the zamindars. In the Punjab the Sikhs were leading a non-violent movement, known as the Akali movement, to remove corrupt mahants from the Gurudwaras, their places of worship. In Assam, tea plantation labourers went on strike. The peasants of Midnapore refused to pay Union Board taxes. A powerful agitation led by Duggirala Gopalakrishnayya developed in Guntur district. The whole population of Chirala, a town in that district, refused to pay municipal taxes and moved out of town. All village officers resigned in Peddanadipadu. In Malabar (northern Kerala), the Moplahs, or Muslim peasants, created a powerful anti-zamindar movement. The Viceroy wrote to the Secretary of State in February 1919 that "The lower classes in the towns have been seriously affected by the non-cooperation movement. ... .In certain areas the peasantry have been affected, particularly in parts of Assam valley, United Provinces, Bihar and Orissa, and Bengal". On 1st February1922, Mahatma Gandhi announced that he would start mass civil disobedience, including non-payment of taxes, unless within seven days the political prisoners were released and the Press freed from government control.

C.7 Withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation movement,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThis mood of struggle was soon transformed into retreat. On 5 February, a Congress procession of 3000 peasants at Chauri Chaura, a village in the Gorakhpur District of U.P., was fired upon by the police. The angry crowd attacked and burnt the police station causing the death of 22 policemen. Other incidents of violence by crowds had occurred earlier in different parts of the country. Gandhiji was afraid that in this moment of popular ferment and excitement, the movement might easily take a violent turn. He was convinced that the nationalist workers had not yet properly understood nor learnt the practice of non-violence without which, he was convinced, civil disobedience could not be a success. Apart from the fact that he would have nothing to do with violence, he also perhaps believed that the British would be able to easily crush a violent movement, for people had not yet built up enough strength and stamina to resist massive government repression. He therefore decided to suspend the nationalist campaign. The Congress Working Committee met at Bardoli in Gujarat on 12 February and passed a resolution stopping all activities which would lead to breaking of laws. It urged Congressmen to donate their time to the constructive programme popularisation of the charkha, national schools, temperance, removal of untouchability and promotion of Hindu-Muslim unity.,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThe Bardoli resolution stunned the country and had a mixed reception among the bewildered nationalists. While some had implicit faith in Gandhiji and believed that the retreat was a part of the Gandhian strategy of struggle, others, especially the younger nationalists, resented this decision to retreat. Subhash Chandra Bose, one of the popular and younger leaders of the Congress, has written in his autobiography, The Indian Struggle:

"To sound the order of retreat just when public enthusiasm was reaching the boiling-point was nothing short of national calamity. The principal lieutenants of the Mahatma, Deshbandhu Das, Pandit Motilal Nehru and Lala Lajpat Rai, who were all in prison, shared the popular resentment. I was with the Deshbandhu at the time and I could see that he was beside himself with anger and sorrow at the way Mahatma Gandhi was repeatedly bungling."

Many other young leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru had a similar reaction. But both the people and the leaders had faith in Gandhiji and did not want to publicly disobey him. They accepted his decision without open opposition. The first Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience Movement virtually came to an end.This content prepared by Civils Tapasya Portal by PT's IAS Academy

C.8 Mahatma Gandhi's trial and sentencing,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comThe last act of the drama was played when the government decided to take full advantage of the situation and to strike hard. It arrested Mahatma Gandhi on 10 March 1922 and charged him with spreading disaffection against the government. Gandhiji was sentenced to six years imprisonment after a trial which was made historic by the statement that he made before the court. Pleading guilty to the prosecution's charge, he invited the court to award him "the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen".

He traced at length his own political evolution from a supporter of the British rule to its sharpest critic and said:

"I came reluctantly to the conclusion that the British connection had made India more helpless than she ever was before, politically and economically. A disarmed India has no power of resistance against any aggression. ... She has become so poor that she has little power of resisting famines. ... Little do town dwellers know how the semi-starved masses of India are slowly sinking to lifelessness. Little do they know that their miserable comfort represents the brokerage they get for the work they do for the foreign exploiter, that the profits and the brokerage are sucked from the masses. Little do they realise that the Government established by law in British India is carried on for the exploitation of the masses.,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comNo sophistry, no jugglery in figures, can explain away the evidence that the skeletons in many villages present to the naked eye. ... In my opinion, administration of the law is thus prostituted, consciously or unconsciously, for the benefit of the exploiter. The greater misfortune is that Englishmen and their Indian associates in the administration of the country do not know that they are engaged in the crime I have attempted to describe. I am satisfied that many Englishmen and Indian officials honestly believe that they are administering one of the best systems devised in the world, and that India is making steady, though slow progress. They do not know that a subtle but effective system of terrorism and an organised display of force on the one hand, and the deprivation of all powers of retaliation or self-defence on the other, have emasculated the people and induced in them the habit of simulation."

In conclusion, Gandhiji expressed his belief that "non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good". The judge noted that he was passing on Gandhiji the same sentence as was passed on Lokamanya Tilak in 1908.

C.9 The rise of Kamal Pasha in Turkey,, http://vartalapforum.PTeducation.comVery soon the Khilafat question also lost relevance. The people of Turkey rose up under the leadership of Mustafa Kamal Pasha and, in November 1922, deprived the Sultan of his political power. Kamal Pasha took many measures to modernise Turkey and to make it a secular state. He abolished the Caliphate (or the institution of the Caliph) and separated the state from religion by eliminating Islam from the Constitution. He nationalised education, granted women extensive rights, introduced legal codes based on European models, and took steps to develop agriculture and to introduce modern industries. All these steps broke the back of the Khilafat agitation.

The Khilafat agitation had made an important contribution to the Non-Cooperation movement. It had brought urban Muslims into the nationalist movement and had been, thus, responsible in part for the feeling of nationalist enthusiasm and exhilaration that prevailed in the country in those days. Some historians have criticised it for mixing religion with politics. As a result, they say, religious consciousness spread to politics, and in the long run, the forces of communalism were strengthened. This is true to some extent.

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    • There was, of course, nothing wrong in the nationalist movement taking up a demand that affected Muslims only. 
    • It was inevitable that different sections of society would come to understand the need for freedom through their particular demands and experiences.
    • The nationalist leadership, however, failed to some extent in raising the religious political consciousness of the Muslims to the higher plane of secular political consciousness. 
    • At the same time it should also be kept in view that the Khilafat agitation represented much wider feelings of the Muslims than their concern for the Caliph. 
    • It was in reality an aspect of the general spread of anti-imperialist feelings among the Muslims. These feelings found concrete expression on the Khilafat question.
    • After all there were no protests in India when Kamal Pasha abolished the Caliphate in 1924.

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C.10 The long term impact

It may be noted at this stage that even though the Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience Movement had ended in apparent failure, the national movement had been strengthened in more than one way. Nationalist sentiments and the national movement had now reached the remotest corners of the land. Millions of peasants, artisans and urban poor had been brought into the national movement. All strata of Indian society had been politicised. Women had been drawn into the movement. It is this politicisation and activisation of millions of men and women that imparted a revolutionary character to the Indian national movement.

The British rule was based on the twin notions that the British ruled India for the good of the Indians and that it was invincible and incapable of being overthrown. As we have seen earlier, the first notion was challenged by the Moderate nationalists who developed a powerful economic critique of colonial rule. It was now, during the mass phase of the national movement, that this critique was disseminated among the common people by youthful agitators through speeches, pamphlets, dramas, songs, prabhat pheries and newspapers.

The notion, of invincibility of the British rule was challenged by satyagraha and mass struggle. As Jawaharlal Nehru wrote in The Discovery of India:

"The essence of his (Gandhiji's) teaching was fearlessness... not merely body courage but the absence of fear from the mind. ... But the dominant impulse in India under British rule was that of fear, pervasive, oppressing, strangling fear;, fear of the army, the police, the widespread secret service; fear of the official class; fear of laws meant to suppress and of prison; fear of landlord's agents; fear of the moneylender; fear of unemployment and starvation, which were always on' the threshold. It was against this all pervading fear that Gandhiji's quiet and determined voice was raised: Be not afraid."

A major result of the Non-Cooperation Movement was that the Indian people lost their sense of fear. The brute strength of British power in India no longer frightened them. They had gained tremendous self-confidence and self-esteem, which no defeats and retreats could shake. This was expressed by Gandhiji when he declared that "the fight that was commenced in 1920 is a fight to the finish, whether it lasts one month or one year or many months or many years". This content prepared by Civils Tapasya Portal by PT's IAS Academy,,

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PT's IAS Academy: India's independence struggle - Study Material 3 - World War I & India | Gandhiji's early career | Khilafat & Non-Cooperation Movements
India's independence struggle - Study Material 3 - World War I & India | Gandhiji's early career | Khilafat & Non-Cooperation Movements
As the independence movement raged on, the First World War arrived in 1914. Mahatma Gandhi landed in India in 1915 and our freedom struggle took a new direction. Then came the various Satyagrahas that gave Gandhi his indomitable stature. Then came Khilafat Movement, and finally the Rowlatt Act and its opposition.
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