Mahatma Gandhi announced his plan to begin Non-Cooperation with the government as a sequel to the Rowlatt Act, Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the Khilafat Movement. It was approved by the Indian National Congress at the Nagpur session in December, 1920.
The programmes of the Non-Cooperation Movement were:
Surrender of titles and honorary positions.
Resignation of membership from the local bodies.
Boycott of elections held under the provisions of the 1919 Act.
Boycott of government functions.
Boycott of courts, government schools and colleges.
Boycott of foreign goods.
Establishment of national schools, colleges and private panchayat courts.
Popularizing swadeshi goods and khadi.
The movement began with Mahatma Gandhi renouncing the titles, which were given by the British. Other leaders and influential persons also followed him by surrendering their honorary posts and titles. Students came out of the government educational institutions. National schools such as the Kashi Vidyapeeth, the Bihar Vidyapeeth and the Jamia Millia Islamia were set up. All the prominent leaders of the country gave up their lucrative legal practice. Legislatures were boycotted. No leader of the Congress came forward to contest the elections for the Legislatures.
In 1921, mass demonstrations were held against the Prince of Wales during his tour of India. The government resorted to strong measures of repression. Many leaders were arrested. The Congress and the Khilafat Committees were proclaimed as illegal. At several places, bonfires of foreign clothes were organised. The message of Swadeshi spread everywhere. Most of the households took to weaving cloths with the help of charkhas.
But the whole movement was abruptly called off on 11th February 1922 by Gandhi following the Churi Chaura incident in the Gorakpur district of U.P. Earlier on 5th February an angry mob set fire to the police station at Churi Chaura and twenty two police men were burnt to death. Many top leaders of the country were stunned at this sudden suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement. Mahatma Gandhi was arrested on 10 March 1922.
1. It was the real mass movement with the participation of different sections of Indian society such as peasants, workers, students, teachers and women.
2. It witnessed the spread of nationalism to the remote corners of India.
3. It also marked the height of Hindu-Muslim unity as a result of the merger of Khilafat movement.
4. It demonstrated the willingness and ability of the masses to endure hardships and make sacrifices.
The suspension of the Non-Cooperation Movement led to a split within Congress in the Gaya session of the Congress in December 1922. Leaders like Motilal Nehru and Chittranjan Das formed a separate group within the Congress known as the Swaraj Party on 1 January 1923. The Swarajists wanted to contest the council elections and wreck the government from within. Elections to Legislative Councils were held in November 1923. In this, the Swaraj Party gained impressive successes. In the Central Legislative Council Motilal Nehru became the leader of the party whereas in Bengal the party was headed by C.R. Das.
The Swaraj Party did several significant things in the Legislative Council. It demanded the setting up of responsible government in India with the necessary changes in the Government of India Act of 1919. The party could pass important resolutions against the repressive laws of the government. When a Committee chaired by the Home Member, Alexander Muddiman considered the system of Dyarchy as proper, a resolution was passed against it in the Central Legislative Council. After the passing away of C.R. Das in June 1925, the Swarj Party started weakening.