The work “Event, Metaphor, Memory: Chauri Chaura, 1922-1992” by Shahid Amin unveils the history behind the Chauri Chaura incident and its impact on Indian nationalism. But Chauri Chaura incident is interpreted by different historians in different forms. Some historians argue that the incident must be considered as the outburst of violent anger of the peasants in Chauri Chaura. But some others argue that this incident is to be considered as a betrayal of the nonviolence and non-cooperation movement of Gandhi. Anyway, this incident resulted in a far-reaching consequence on the freedom struggle in India against the British government.
The non-cooperation movement was the idea of Gandhi to fight against British rule in India. The movement stood for human freedom and self-government in India. Moreover, it can be considered as India’s demand for political freedom and self-government. From the beginning of the freedom struggle itself, Gandhi was considered a liberator and a strong leader. His dream was to attain freedom through passive resistance, non-cooperation with the colonial government. The congress volunteers were trained to be truthful and to violate the laws without any violence. But when the peasant volunteers turned violent, and they burned down a police station in Chauri Chaura and killed 23 police officers. But the government arrested Gandhi.
He was sentenced to six years imprisonment. The immediate result of the Chauri Chaura incident was that Gandhi decided to suspend the non-cooperation movement. So, one can see that the incident of Chauri Chaura resulted in far-reaching consequences in the Indian political scenario. In the article “75 years on, historians still confused about the impact of Chauri Chaura”, it is pointed out that: “Shahid Amin, a scholar who authored a book Chauri Chaura 1922-92, says it is unfortunate that Chauri Chaura still remains on the margin of authentic history writing. The facts about this upsurge, he says, are yet to be fully compiled and analyzed. Mahatma Gandhi was shaken by the violence of Chauri Chaura and abruptly called off the non-cooperation movement in 1922 when the movement was at its peak.”
The Chauri Chaura incident in the Indian freedom struggle is not yet given an important place. It is considered as an incident of uncontrolled violence in Indian history and not as a protest of nationalists against the cruelty of the colonial government. Shahid Amin, The author of the book “Event, Metaphor, Memory: Chauri Chaura, 1922-1992,” is of the same opinion. He points out that the political and historical importance of the Chauri Chaura incident is marginalized in Indian history. So, his work must be considered as an attempt to analyze the facts about the upsurge. But this incident resulted in calling off the non-cooperation movement Gandhi. From this incident, Gandhi realized the fact that the people are not yet prepared for the nonviolent way of struggle to attain independence.
Different people tried to interpret the events at Chauri Chaura differently because they obtained different ideas about the incident differently in different historical books. For example, when one tries to write about the incident from the viewpoint of the rulers, the sufferings of the people, which comprise poor villagers, will be omitted or marginalized. When one tries to interpret the incident from a nationalist view, the protest of the people will be considered as extreme heroism. But the author tried to complete the work by way of research. He visited the town and its surrounding villages several times and collected evidence from the local people. Through this book, readers were able to realize the real cause of the events at Chauri Chaura. In a democratic country, people have the right to protest against the injustice of the existing system.
The procession which resulted in the incident was a peaceful agitation. But when the government tried to suppress the protest with force, the people became violent and burned down the police station. When one asks the question-do the people have the right to burn the police station and to kill the policemen, the answer will be in the form of another question- does the government have the right to suppress the peaceful procession by people to show their protest. But the peasant volunteers who burned down the police station in Chauri Chaura were without proper leadership. If there was a strong leader among the protesters, the incident might not happen. The real cause behind the incident was that the police fired on a procession of satyagraha in Chauri Chaura near Gorakhpur on February 4, 1922.
The people who protested against the local police and government comprise Bhojpuri peasants, townsfolk, villagers, congress volunteers, and common people. The day before the incident, there was a problem between the local police and villagers. The people decided to confront the station officer publically, who had beaten the villagers without any solid reason. The procession was peaceful, and the aim of the people was to march towards Mundera, to picket liquor, meat, and fish shops.
There occurred a tussle between some policemen and the people the police began to fire in the air. This was the real cause, and its effect was so terrible. The work by Shahid Amin is based on the written and oral narration of the local people and is an archival work with judicious records of a historically important period in Indian politics and freedom fight. The exploitation by the government in villages by police officers and government officials was more severe, and the theories of Gandhi strengthened the villagers to agitate against injustice. But the way that people chose to fight was based on emotion. This violent and uncontrollable emotion was the cause of the incident. The incident highlights the nationalism of peasants in remote villages in India.
Moreover, the protest was based on political interest and the religiosity of the vegetarianism of the local people. The study of the incident reveals its impact on Gandhi and the lessons that he learned from this event which helped to empower future movements.
Before concluding, it must be pointed out that the incident of Chauri Chaura empowered the people with the strength that can be obtained from unity. The poor villagers were learning the basic lessons of national politics. The unification of the people without the problem of caste, gender, and creed strengthened the national uprise for freedom. Moreover, the poor ignorant peasant folk of India became aware of their situation, which was considered lower than animals. It is evident that the work by Shahid Amin reveals the hidden and ignored history of people in India who were away from the mainstream. This work can also be considered as a tribute to the local people who were marginalized and kept away from Indian political history.