Champaran is a district in North Western Bihar. Indigo cultivationin Camparan goes back to late 18th century. However, it was in 1813, first Indigo factory was founded at Bara village. By 1850 indigo had become the predominantly produced crop in Champaran, replacing even sugar.
- Tinkathiya system was predominant system of Indigo cultivation in Champaran.
- In this, the ryot was under an obligation to cultivate three kathas per beegha of his land with indigo i.e. 3/20 of his landholding ( 1 beegha= 20 kathas).
- There were no legal grounds for this. It was done solely at the wishes of the indigo factory owners (planters).
- Post 1900, because of competition from the European synthetic indigo, the indigo factories in Bihar started facing decline.
- To escape losses, the planters began cancelling their agreements with the ryots to grow indigo. To release them from this obligation, they charged a tawan i.e., damages as high as rs. 100 per beegha.
- If the ryots could not make a cash payment, then hand notes and mortgage bonds were made at an interest rate of 12 percent per annum.
How Gandhi became the part of this Styagrah?
- Gandhi was requested by Rajkumar Shukla, a local man, to look into the problems of the farmers in context of indigo planters of Champaran in Bihar.
- Gandhi, was joined now by Rajendra Prasad, Mazhar-ul-Haq, Mahadeo Desai, Narhari Parekh, and J.B. Kripalani, to probe into the matter,
- The news of Gandhi’s arrival in Champaran had created a stir among the British officials. it was decided that as soon as he arrived in Champaran, a notice to leave the district should be served on him under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
- While still on his way, he was overtaken by a Sub-inspector who informed Gandhi that an order under Section 144 has been issued and requested him to return and meet the District Magistrate.
- Gandhi came back from the way but he refused to adhere to the notice. He wrote to the Magistrate that he would not leave Champaran for which he was ready to suffer the penalty of disobedience.
- As a result, Gandhi was also charged under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and summoned for a trial on 18 April.
- In the meantime, the Lieutenant Governor intervened and on the grounds of insufficient evidence against Gandhi and the doubtful legality of invoking Section 144 against him, ordered the local administration to withdraw the case.
- Moreover, he also gave Gandhi the permission to conduct the inquiry.
- Thus, the ideals of Civil Disobedience and Satyagraha which later became a characteristic feature of the Indian National Movement, began from Champaran.
- Gandhi had won the first battle of civil disobedience in India. Other popular leaders associated with Champaran Satyagraha were Brajkishore Prasad, Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Ramnavmi Prasad and Shambhusharan Varma.
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