Gandhi Jayanti : What Gandhi Ji Said About His ‘Humiliating’ Night in South Africa

The train incident which took place at the Pietermaritzburg train station in South Africa in 7th June 1893 is often cited as the turning point in the life of Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi ji was on his way to Pretoria to settle a dispute pertaining to his client Dada Abdullah Jhaveri.

Despite having the tickets for the First Class Gandhi was thrown off the compartment which the authorities claim was reserve only for the white.

Gandhi wrote in his Autobiography :

“My overcoat was in my luggage, but I did not dare to ask for it lest I should be insulted again, so I sat and shivered… There was no light in the room,”

“Should I fight for my rights and go back to India or should I go on to Pretoria without minding the insults… It would be cowardice to run back to India without fulfilling my obligation.”

The humiliation during the night spent at the Waiting Hall of the empty station led to the mobilisation of Indians in Durban and Gandhi ji form the Natal Indian Congress.

As Gandhi ji return to India in 1896 but he was call by the Natal Indian Congress to Durban.

The Indian High Commission in Pretoria notes that there were huge protests by the white community who did not allow Gandhi to disembark the ship.

The ship was kept in quarantine for three weeks and when he was finally allow to come ashore he was attack by a mob and brutally beaten.

Gandhi ji then went on to form the Ambulance Corps of around 1100 strength with a motive to support the British in the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902.

Gandhi ji hope that supporting the British could mean a better life for Indians in Transvaal and South Africa. 

But Gandhi ji was disappointed.

After a brief return to India Gandhi ji form the Transvaal British Indian Association in Johannesburg in the year 1902.

His refusal to leave Transvaal land him in jail for two months.

This was the first of his four terms in jail at the Old Fort Prison Complex in South Africa.

Gandhi ji was imprison in Volksrust [1908], Pretoria [1909] and Volksrust [1913].

Mahatma Gandhi ji launch the famous Volkrust Satyagraha, protesting against the humiliating pass laws, disobeying which had landed him in jail in the year 1913.

The Indian Relief Act was pass, thrashing the discriminatory pass laws.

The professional stint, for which Gandhi ji land in South Africa in 1883, stretch to 21 long years, that shape the experiments which he once again unveile against the British rule in India upon his arrival at Mumbai on 9th January 1915. 

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