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Tamil Nadu was active during the Non-cooperation Movement. C. Rajaji and E.V. Ramaswamy (EVR, later known as Periyar) provided the leadership. Rajaji worked closely with Yakub Hasan, founder of the Madras branch of the Muslim League. As a result, the Hindus and the Muslims cooperated closely during the course of the movement in Tamil Nadu.
As part of the non-cooperation movement, in many places, cultivators refused to pay taxes. A no-tax campaign took place in Thanjavur. Councils, schools and courts were boycotted. Foreign goods were boycotted. There were a number of workers’ strikes all over region, many of them led by nationalist leaders. One of the important aspects of the movement in Tamil Nadu was the temperance movement or movement against liquor. In November 1921 it was decided to organise civil disobedience. Rajaji, Subramania Sastri and EVR were arrested. The visit of Prince of Wales on 13 January 1922 was boycotted. In the police repression two were killed and many injured. The Non-Cooperation Movement was withdrawn in 1922 after the Chauri Chaura incident in which 22 policemen were killed.
Following the withdrawal of the Non-Cooperation Movement, the Congress was divided between ‘no-changers’ who wanted to continue the boycott of the councils and ‘pro-changers who wanted to contest the elections for the councils. Rajaji along with other staunch Gandhian followers opposed the council entry. Along with Kasturirangar and M.A. Ansari, Rajaji advocated the boycott of the councils. Opposition to this led to the formation of the Swaraj Party within the Congress by Chittaranjan Das and Motilal Nehru. In Tamil Nadu the Swarajists were led by S. Srinivasanar and S. Satyamurti.
In Madras provincial elections held in 1926, the Swarajists won the majority of the elected seats. However, it did not accept office in accordance with the Congress policy. Instead they supported an independent, P. Subbarayan to form the ministry. The Swarajists did not contest the 1930 elections leading to an easy victory for the Justice Party. The Justice Party remained in office till 1937.
In 1927 a statutory commission was constituted under Sir John Simon to review the Act of 1919 and to suggest reforms. However, to the great disappointment of Indians, it was an all-white commission with not a single Indian member. So the Congress boycotted the Simon Commission. In Madras, the Simon Boycott Propaganda Committee was set up with S. Satyamurti as the president. The arrival of Simon Commission in Madras on 18 February 1929 black flags were waved against the Commission.
Agitation for Removal of Neill Statue (1927) James Neill of the Madras Fusiliers (infantry men with firearms) was brutal in wreaking vengeance at Kanpur (‘the Cawnpur massacre’, as it was called) in which many English women and children were killed in the Great Rebellion of 1857. Neill was later killed by an Indian sepoy. A statue was erected for him at Mount Road, Madras. Nationalists saw this as an insult to Indian sentiments, and organised a series of demonstrations in Madras. The statue was finally moved to Madras Museum when Congress Ministry, led by C. Rajaji, formed the government in 1937.
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