May 9, 2021

Aone Punjabi

Nidar, Nipakh, Nawi Soch

Flagging off ‘Dandi March’, PM Modi launches Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav

3 min read

Descendants of those who walked the Salt March (in 1930) will be honoured: Gujarat Minister of State for Sports, Youth and Cultural Activities.

Cultural programmes are planned at 21 spots on the route at the nightly stops for the walkers.

On the 91st anniversary of the historic Salt March led by Mahatma Gandhi, The Prime Minister is expected to flag off the 21-day long Dandi March from a ground beside the AbhayGhat, the resting place of late Prime Minister Morarji Desai near the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad to Dandi in Navsari district.

This event launches India’s celebration of 75 years of independence -Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

The event is attended by Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and others. Prior to this, PM Modi visited the Sabarmati Ashram where he paid floral tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.

What was the original Dandi March?

The Dandi March or Salt March was part of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent protest against the British monopoly on production of salt. Led by Gandhi, 78 people started the 24-day march on March 12 and reached Dandi on April 5, 1930. After making salt at Dandi, Gandhi headed to Dharasana Salt Works, 40 km south, but was arrested on May 5 after he informed Lord Irwin (the viceroy of India) of his intention to march on the nearby Dharasanasaltworks. News of Gandhi’s detention spurred tens of thousands more to join the satyagraha. The march on the saltworks went ahead as planned on May 21, led by the poet Sarojini Naidu, and many of the some 2,500 peaceful marchers were attacked and beaten by police. By the end of the year, some 60,000 people were in jail.

Gandhi was released from custody in January 1931 and began negotiations with Lord Irwin aimed at ending the satyagraha campaign. A truce subsequently was declared, which was formalized in the Gandhi-Irwin Pact that was signed on March 5. The calming of tensions paved the way for Gandhi, representing the Indian National Congress, to attend the second session (September–December 1931) of the Round Table Conference in London.

How did Congress commemorate the march?

In 2005, the then Congress-led UPA government at the Centre had initiated a similar yatra to commemorate the 75 years of the Dandi March with then Congress president Sonia Gandhi flagging off a march from Sabarmati Ashram on March 12. She also joined the last leg of the tour at Dandi with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The march was jointly organised by the Congress party and the Mumbai-based Mahatma Gandhi Foundation run by Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi, who also walked the entire route. Congress chief ministers of the time, union ministers and other political leaders such as Ahmed Patel, Salman Khurshid and Rahul Gandhi, also walked the route on various stretches. The march participants had been selected from all over the country.

The then prime minister Manmohan Singh who presided over the conclusion of the march on April 6, 2005, had announced the designating of the 386 km route as a ‘heritage route’ which was planned to be a trekker-friendly route. Singh had also said that all sites where Gandhi stayed would be developed as heritage sites and announced an immediate corpus of Rs 10 crore for the Sabarmati Ashram. For Dandi, the then UPA government had planned a library dedicated to Gandhian studies and erecting statues of the 81 marchers. This project, called the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial, is almost complete.

Who will participate in the 2021 Dandi March?

Gujarat Minister of State for Sports, Youth and Cultural Activities (Independent charge) Ishwarsinh Patel said “descendants of those who walked the Salt March (in 1930) will be honoured”, though they have not been invited to participate in the nearly 386-km walk “due to their age”. The march itself will see 81 walkers traverse the route in memory of the 78 who accompanied Mahatma Gandhi in 1930 from Ahmedabad to Dandi and two others who had joined mid-route.

The subsequent journey will see “big events at six places” associated with Gandhi. These include MK Gandhi’s birthplace Porbandar, along with Rajkot, Vadodara, Bardoli (Surat), Mandvi (Kutch) and Dandi (Navsari). Simultaneous programmes to “foster patriotism” will be held on March 12 at 75 places where the 1930 entourage had taken halted. Cultural programmes are planned at 21 spots on the route at the nightly stops for the walkers. As per Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, political leaders will join in on each day of the 21 days.

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