The Salt March, which took place from March to April 1930 in India, was an act of civil disobedience led by Mohandas Gandhi to protest British rule in India. During the march, thousands of Indians followed Gandhi from his religious retreat near Ahmedabad to the Arabian Sea coast, a distance of some 240 miles. The march resulted in the arrest of nearly 60,000 people, including Gandhi himself. India finally was granted its independence in 1947.
Britain’s Salt Act of 1882 prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt, a staple in their diet.
Indian citizens were forced to buy the vital mineral from their British rulers, who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over the manufacture and sale of salt, also charged a heavy salt tax. Although India’s poor suffered most under the tax, all Indians required salt.
Mohandas Gandhi and Satyagraha
After living for two decades in South Africa, where Mohandas Gandhi fought for the civil rights of Indians residing there, Gandhi returned to his native country in 1915 and soon began working for India’s independence from Great Britain.
Defying the Salt Act, Gandhi reasoned, would be an ingeniously simple way for many Indians to break a British law nonviolently.
Gandhi declared resistance to British salt policies to be the unifying theme for his new campaign of “satyagraha,” or mass civil disobedience.
Salt March Begins
First, Gandhi sent a letter on March 2, 1930 to inform the Viceroy Lord Irwin that he and the others would begin breaking the Salt Laws in 10 days. Then, on March 12, 1930, Gandhi set out from his ashram, or religious retreat, at Sabermanti near Ahmedabad with several dozen followers on a trek of some 240 miles to the coastal town of Dandi on the Arabian Sea.