Historical Figures

39. Sardar Patel launched an unprecedented movement against government arbitrariness in Borsad

Borsad was the old Karmabhoomi of Sardar Patel. There suddenly a series of thefts started. Robberies started happening and other crimes also increased. When the public asked the government to rein in the criminals, the government accused the public that the people of Borsad are very cowardly and submissive, that is why more crimes are happening there.

The government imposed an additional annual tax of Rs 2.40 lakh on the people of Borsad in the name of additional policing. People complained to Vallabhbhai about this action of the government. When Sardar himself investigated the matter, it was found that a dacoit named Ali had promised to assist the Superintendent of Police in apprehending a criminal whom the government wanted to catch immediately. That's why Ali and his men were looting fiercely and the entire department including the Superintendent of Police was silent.

Vallabhbhai came to know that the police of Borsad was providing weapons to the gang of dacoit Ali. It was a strange situation. On the one hand the police was in contact with the dacoits and on the other hand the government, in the name of additional policing, was compensating for the expenses by imposing a tax of Rs 2 7 on every person above the age of 16 years. Those who did not pay taxes, their cattle and land were confiscated.

Many people were caught and put in jails. When the havoc of bandits and police was going on in Borsad, unfortunately in those days there was a severe famine in Borsad and its surrounding area. It was like itching in leprosy. Thieves and dacoits were looting from one side, from the other side the government and police were looting, from the third side nature also threatened with famine. There was an outcry in the whole area. Sardar Patel appealed to the people to face the problems patiently and not to pay extra tax to the government.

When the Ghori government came down to forcefully suppress the people of Borsad, Vallabhbhai got a statement published in a newspaper named Navjeevan on 9th December 1923 and made all Gujarat aware of the problem of Borsad taluka and appealed to help - 'Borsad and The government has imposed a fine of Rs 2.50 lakh on the innocent people of Anand Tehsil. Along with this, police force has been deployed in 500 villages. Resisting this, the people have decided to conduct Satyagraha.

Police called from outside have been deployed in every village. Some of them policemen have started committing various types of atrocities on the people. The people stricken by the terror of robbers are now trapped in the terror of the police. Hands are also being put on the honor of women. Orders have been given to the patwaris to make confiscation immediately. Those who make early recovery are being lured with turban. In such a distressing situation there is a need to reassure people and participate in their grief.

This golden opportunity has come for the youth of Gujarat to serve the people. Those desirous of serving in Borsad should immediately send their application to the Minister of the Provincial Committee. Money will be needed in this fight. I hope Gujarat itself can give enough money for Borsad's movement. Those willing to help can send donations to the Gujarat Provincial Committee.' - Vallabhbhai Jhaberbhai Patel.

This appeal had a magic effect on the people of Gujarat. People came from far and wide and started gathering for Satyagraha. The traders sympathized with the people of Borsad by closing their business. To avoid confiscation, the farmers took their cattle and went to the forests. The women hid copper and brass vessels and worked with earthenware. The Borsad movement reached its zenith.

Vallabhbhai was running Borsad's movement without resorting to any organization. On one side was the powerful British government system which was used to tyranny. On the other hand, Sardar's influential personality was capable of giving leadership to any movement. Vallabhbhai feared that the people would be torn apart by government atrocities. That is why he went from village to village giving passionate speeches and inspired people to stand firm in the face of injustice. His speeches instilled new hope in the public and instilled the courage to fight against the government.

When the Borsad movement got prolonged and yielded no results, Ishwar decided to help Sardar Patel. In those days the governor of Bombay changed and Sir Leslie Wilson came as the governor of Bombay. One day he read the speech of Sardar Patel in the newspapers in which he exposed the complicity of the police in the crimes and exposed the secret circular issued by the Superintendent of Police of Borsad in which instructions were given to the police personnel.>

That they do not pay attention to the incidents of theft and robbery. Sir Leslie sent home member Sir Maurice Hayward to Borsad to find out the reality. Sir Hayward toured the whole area and talked to people from place to place to find out the facts. During this investigation, that secret circular also fell in the hands of Hayward.

Sir Hayward returned to Bombay and submitted his report to the Governor. It was said in this report that all the allegations made by Sardar Patel were true. The Governor took immediate action and repealed the unfair tax on 8 January 1924. Sardar Patel thanked the Governor for this just action.

It was a resounding success which Sardar had done on the strength of his personality and integrity. The people gave such unprecedented support to Sardar in this movement which was unimaginable. Gandhiji praised this success of Sardar and gave him the title of Raja of Borsad.

Till now Sardar Patel had been agitating in different parts of Gujarat and every movement carried out by him had reached a turning point. Whereas none of the movements launched by Gandhiji had been successful so far. The farmers of Champaran were not completely relieved and the non-cooperation movement was also called off midway.

Since the Khilafat movement run by the Muslims was also linked with the non-cooperation movement, due to this the Khilafat movement also failed. The Muslims felt that Gandhiji had stopped the non-cooperation movement only to thwart the Khilafat movement. Due to this Gandhiji was being criticized all round and stories of Sardar Patel's successes were being published in newspapers all over the country. He was becoming the heartbeat of the country.