Gandhiji received reports from Raj Kumar Shukla about the Indian farmers being exploited by British landlords. The farmers were forced to grow indigo on 15% of the land that harvest was treated as rent by the landlords.
When the news of German synthetic indigo reached the landlords, they agreed to release the sharecroppers but the latter were asked to pay compensation to the landlords for their 15% for their land. Raj Kumar Shukla was one of the few peasants who wanted to complain about the injustice of the landlord system in Bihar. Gandhiji went to Champaran to look into the matter himself. He began at Muzzafarpur by studying the problems and getting the facts. He met the other peasants and consulted the lawyers who briefed him about the situation Gandhiji chided them for collecting fees from the poor sharecroppers. He said that going to the law court was useless; peasants needed to be free from fear. He visited the secretary of British Landlord’s Association and also met the British Official Commissioner of Tirhut Division. However, the meetings were not fruitful. He along with few lawyers went to Motithari to continue investigation. He was on his way to meet a peasant, when the police superintendent’s messenger asked him to return to the town. On returning he served Gandhiji with a notice to leave Champaran. He disobeyed the court order to leave Champaran. As a result, he was summoned to appear in the court; he was prepared to go to prison for the sake of peasants. Hearing that an outsider had come to help them, who was now in tiff with authorities, thousands of peasants came to Motihari and demonstrated outside the court house. Seeing so much unrest the British officials felt the fear of being challenged by the Indians. Gandhiji inspired the peasants, with his talks and actions, to overcome their fear and be self reliant. Gandhiji ensured the triumph of civil disobedience. He agreed to a 25% refund to make the poor farmers realise that because of their united efforts, the British landlords had no other option than to lose their money as well as their prestige and that was more important. The peasants learned about courage from this incident and that they too had rights. Within a few years the British landlords gave up their estates. These now went back to the peasants. Eventually, indigo sharecropping disappeared.