Salt and a narrow escape

In 1930 during Gandhi’s campaign of peaceful nonviolence, 79 people began a march to the sea to “make salt,” the manufacture of which was forbidden by British law. Within three weeks of the end of the march, in spite of the ridicule of the British, tens of thousands of protesters convened at the seaside—and the whole world knew it. Violence of astounding proportions ensued—never intended by Gandhi. 

The years of civil unrest unnerved all who fought and waited. To some it appeared that Gandhi’s methods had been forgotten. Even Mabel Jones, a respected friend of the merchants and officials in Sitapur, experienced a terrifying confrontation. 

One day as Jones drove to the bazaar for supplies, the unruly crowd, supposing the white woman to be British, surrounded the car, rocking it and shouting, “Mahatma Gandhi ki jai,” which translates, “victory to Mahatma Gandhi.” She frantically searched for a familiar face, but the crowd had gathered from out of town. Jones began beeping the claxon horn, keeping time to the rhythm of the chant. Its loud hoarse noise amused the crowd. Someone shouted, “Even a foreign car is for independence—but it has a cold!” Finally and fortuitously one of the merchants recognized Jones and jumped onto the hood, shouting that she was an American missionary from the mission station, and not English.

By Martha Gunsalus Chamberlain

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #136 in 2020]

Martha Gunsalus Chamberlain, excerpted from A Love Affair with India
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