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Non-cooperation movement was basically the refusal to cooperate with the British government. It was inaugurated at the Calcutta session of the Congress in September 1920. It included the surrender of titles that the government awarded, the boycott of civil services, army, police, courts, legislative councils and schools. It also included the rejection and boycott of foreign goods. Various groups joined and participated actively in the movement. Thus, the movement had the contribution of different social sections with their own aspirations.

The movement revealed the active participation of the middle-class of the cities in the freedom movement. Thousands of students left the government-owned schools and colleges, headmasters and teachers resigned and lawyers gave up their legal practices. The council elections were also boycotted in many provinces. Foreign goods and clothes were boycotted, liquor shops picketed, and foreign cloth was burnt in bonfires in cities. Merchants and traders refused to trade in foreign goods or finance foreign trade. As the boycott movement spread, people began to discard imported clothes and foreign goods.

From the cities, the Non-Cooperation Movement spread to the countryside and villages. It was carried out mainly by the peasants and the tribal sections. In Awadh, the peasants were led by Baba Ramchandra against the talukdars and landlords who charged high rents and cesses from the peasants. They had no security of tenure and could be evicted from the land. In many places, bandhs were structured to deny the landlords even the services of barbers and washermen. There was a huge effort by the Congress to integrate the Awadh peasant struggle into the wider struggle.

In the forest regions, the colonial government had stopped people from entering the forests to graze their cattle or to collect firewood and fruits. The livelihoods and the traditional rights of the tribal were being denied. They also revolted against the policies of the government and joined the non-cooperation movement.

The plantation workers also joined the Non-cooperation movement. According to the Inland Emigration Act of 1859, the plantation workers were not permitted to leave the tea gardens and estates without permission. In reality, they were rarely given permission. They too joined the non-cooperation movement. Thousands of workers rebelled the authorities and left the plantations.

Thus there were many segments of people who joined the movement. Even though the aspirations with which they joined the movement was different, all of them had a similar anti-British character reflected in the movement.

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