By Ahmet Abdulaziz….
The date of 7th June 1893 has got a special meaning for the world in general and for Indians in particular. It was exactly 128 years ago that a young Indian lawyer was evicted from a train at the Pietermaritzburg railway station, in South Africa. The name of this young Indian lawyer was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Gandhi or Mahatma Gandhi.
Young Gandhi, who was working as a lawyer in a private company in South Africa in 1893, was going to attend a case in Pretoria. He had bought a ticket for a first class compartment of the train, but an Englishman objected to his presence in the First Class compartment, as a non-white was not supposed to travel in that compartment. The argument grew and ultimately Gandhi was evicted from the train to spend the whole cold night at the Pietermaritzburg railway station.
That particular cold night that he had spent at that railway station, provided him much time to think over his philosophy of peaceful resistance. It was this philosophy that led him to raise his voice against racialism in South Africa. He worked to unite the Indians in South Africa and carried out his peaceful resistance movement. He was put behind bars in South Africa, but that was just the beginning. The young Indian lawyer was going to start the anti-British rule movement in India.
During his 21 year long stay in South Africa, Gandhi managed to organise the local Indian population to carry out peaceful marches and to present themselves for arrest, just to put on record the unjust laws. Interestingly, such a small movement in South Africa, ultimately became one of the most powerful political tools in the years to follow and left an impact on civil rights movements the world over.
Interestingly, Nelson Mandela was born 4 years after Gandhi and had left South Africa in 1914. The political strategies of Mandela were also very much under the influence of Gandhi.
Ultimately, after arriving in India in 1914, Gandhi worked to popularise his peaceful movements of civil disobedience, against the then ruling British. It took another 43 long years of constant struggle before India got independence. The name of Gandhi is still an icon for peaceful movements the world over.