Mass Agitation Against Increase in Salt Duty at Surat – 1844

Mass Agitation Against Increase in Salt Duty at Surat – 1844

Salt duty was raised from 8 ana to 1 Re. per maund in the Bombay Presidency in the year 1844. This caused considerable excitement among the poorer classes. They organised demonstrations to submit a petition to express their “Deep Resentment”. These demonstrations and hartals continued from the 29th August 1844 to 31st August 1844.

It was estimated that more than thirty thousand people took part. On the 30th of August, “The crowds were exceedingly tumultuous, covering the whole esplanade to the edge of the ditch of the Fort.”

               The people in general were “not disposed to commit violence” “The object of the tumult was to show, in as marked a manner as possible, how strong feelings existed.” One Chaprasi was sounded while preventing the crowds from entering the Adaluts. The feeling of discontent “was universal, from the lowest to the highest” and “the city appeared to be on the verge of an insurrection.” Troops were employed to maintain peace.

               The demonstrators were not prepared to listen to anyone. They wanted the magistrate to receive their petition and assure them that the enhanced salt duty would not be enforced. The Agent consulted Hindu, Muslim and Parsi religious heads and requested them to persuade their followers to desist from the agitation. But they could do very little.

               For three days the agitation continued unabated. “No disposition”, however, “on the part of the people was evinced to commit excesses.” High officials, after discussions and negotiations were “convinced of the absolute necessity of the yielding to the wishes of the people.” This course was accordingly resorted to. “Thousands of people acclaimed the result with great acclamations” and in less than one hour the shops were opened and everything was going on as usual.”

               After getting report from Surat that the enhancement in the salt duty was temporarily suspended by the magistrate, the Government of Bombay issued a proclamation “abolishing certain Town Duties” and ordered the Agent to enforce the enhanced duty on salt.

               “To quell any further disaffection” the Government “despatched one Company of European artillery with a battery and wing of the Fifth Regiment Native Infantry”.

               The “Bombay Times” supported the policy of the Bombay Government, but the “Bombay Courier” supported that of the Magistrate.


Reference : A History of Freedom Movement of India – Collected from Bombay Government

Today That Day | Today This Day | Date Today | Today Special Day | Todays Day and Date | Today That Day

No comments:

Post a Comment


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner