During the First World War Turkey was allied with Germany and Austria against the British. Muslims regarded the Sultan of Turkey as their spiritual leader, Khalifa, so naturally they sympathized with Turkey.
After the war, the British removed the Khalifa from power and fragmented Turkey. Hence, Muslims started the Khilafat Movement in India for the restoration of the Khalifa’s position. The three central demands of the movement were as follows:
1. The Caliph must retain control over the Muslim sacred places.
2. The Caliph must be left with sufficient territory to enable him to defend the Islamic faith.
3. Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Palestine (the area of the Jaziratul-Arab) must remain under Muslim Sovereignty.
The Khilafat issue was not directiy linked with politics in India but the Khilafat leaders (Ali Brothers, Maulana Azad, Hakim Ajmal Khan & Hasrat Mohani) were eager in enlisting the support of Hindus.
Gandhi saw in this, an opportunity to bring about Hindu-Muslim unity against the British. The publication of the terms of the Treaty with Turkey, which were very harsh, and also the publication of the Hunter Committee Report on ‘Punjab Disturbances’ in May 1920 infuriated the Indians.
Thus at one level Indian political situation also merged with the issue of Khilafat. Initially the Khilafat leaders limited their actions to meetings, petitions, and deputations in favour of the Khilafat.
Later a militant trend emerged, demanding an active agitation such as stopping all cooperation with the British.
The Central Khilafat Committee met at Allahabad. The meeting was attended by a number of Congress and Khilafat leaders.
In this meeting a programme of non-cooperation towards the government was declared. This was to include
1. Boycott of titles conferred by the Government,
2. Boycott of civil services, army and police, i.e., all Government jobs,
3. Non-payment of taxes to the Government.
4. August 1, 1920 was fixed as the date to start the movement.