The Gandhi-King Community

For Global Peace with Social Justice in a Sustainable Environment

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Senior Gandhian Scholar, Professor, Editor and Linguist

Gandhi International Study and Research Institute, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No. – 09404955338, 09415777229

E-mail- dr.yadav.yogendra@gandhifoundation.net;

dr.yogendragandhi@gmail.com

Mailing Address- C- 29, Swaraj Nagar, Panki, Kanpur- 208020, Uttar Pradesh, India

 

 

H. W. Emerson and Mahatma Gandhi 

 

An urgent message from Ambala draws my attention to cantonment orders issued against persons suspected of sympathy with or assisting the Congress to leave cantonment limits and residents outside to enter those limits, and asks whether such persons are not protected by the settlement. The telegram reminds me that there are such orders in many cantonments. If it is clear to you, as it is to me, that such persons are protected by the settlement, will you please issue the necessary instructions?  1 Here is a telegram from Nellore (copy telegram). I suppose the lathi-charge was due to the fact of the settlement not having been received there. Anyway I feel that I should bring all such matters to your notice unless you want me to do otherwise. 2 I quite agree with you that the instructions must take some time to reach all the different places. I thought it my duty to pass on the wire for such action as you might think necessary. 3 

As promised, I send you translations of a circular and a notice issued by the Mamlatdar of Borsad. They speak for themselves. They are, in my opinion, clearly contrary to the terms of the settlement. 4 I have already taken every precaution possible and hope that nothing untoward will happen. I suggest that there should be no display of police force and no interference at the meeting. Irritation is undoubtedly there. It would be better to allow it to find vent through meetings, etc. 5 The latter is from one of the best and the most cultured of co-workers who is most careful in making statements. The wire about salt is from one who has been a member of the Legislative Council, Bombay, and is the Editor of an influential, widely-read weekly newspaper. The arbitrary limit of one mile practically nullifies the relief clause of the settlement and has been evidently fixed without knowledge of the actual condition of the villages in relation to the salt areas. In my opinion there cannot be a mileage limit. The limit, as I suggested at our conversations, can be easily and justly fixed by issuing instructions that the villagers, so long as they walk from their villages to the salt areas, should not be interfered with. The relief clause was intended to give substantial help to the poor, which it can never do under the one-mile formula. I hope that both the matters will receive prompt attention. I shall thank you to return the telegrams after use. 6 

I have to thank you for your 21st instant regarding non-payment of land revenue in the United Provinces. At my request Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has prepared a note on the question which I enclose herewith for your information. The action taken by the local Congress Committee as reflected in the note appears to me to be free from reproach. Naturally the propriety or otherwise of the action will depend upon the manner in which the whole thing is done. In my opinion all will be well if the local authorities do not repel the advances made by the Congress Committees and do not look upon their activities with suspicion. As you will observe from the note the whole scope of the movement is changed. It is no longer for nonpayment of rent. It is a movement purely for seeking economic relief. 7 Though I am still feverish and travelling, I dare not delay writing to you on the matter mentioned in your letter of 31st March and discussed between us on 6th instant, when we met at your house. The only way I can account for the impression left on H. E. the Viceroy and later on you, is that we have been thinking at cross purposes. I could never surrender the primary function of the Congress, viz., to speak for and represent the peasantry. The Congress, as I told you, is predominantly a peasants’ and workers’ organization. The Congress could not possibly implement the terms of the settlement if the local authorities refused to recognize and treat with sympathy the advances of the Congress when speaking for the peasantry. The difficulties you mentioned about U.P., I am convinced, could all have been solved if the local authorities had sent for the Congress officials in their respective districts.

Many of the Congress officials are well known to them. I suggest that any other attitude would be contrary to the spirit of the settlement, and must defeat the very purpose we both have in view. It would be wrong to accuse the Congress of breach of the settlement if the local authorities by ignoring local Congressmen render it impossible for them to implement it. After all the terms have to be carried out through the people and the Congressmen must fail if they could not interpret the people’s wishes and woes to the authorities. It is possible that the Congress officials may err as the Government officials may. These errors can be easily rectified. But the Congress may not, even on that account, be looked upon with suspicion or distrust whilst the settlement lasts. After my investigation of the complaints received by you about Gujarat and after my interviews with Mr. Garrett and then His Excellency the Governor of Bombay I shall be able to give the illustrations of the application of the principle I have endeavoured to set forth. Lastly I hardly need to give you my assurance that I shall strain every nerve to see that the terms of the settlement are carried out by the Congress so far as it is humanly possible. 8

You will recall that the Government of India authorized coercive measures on the strength of the Bombay Government report of which you gave me a copy. I have already shown to you how misleading that report was and how nobly, in my opinion, the people have paid in spite of the fact that even now the terms of the Settlement in several matters remain unfulfilled by the local officials. I attach hereto a list which will enforce what I have said. These people deserve better treatment than notices of coercive processes. If the matters brought to your notice are not clear to you, and if you think it necessary, you may drag me to Simla. And if you do, it will be necessary for you to stop all coercive processes at least pending our conversations. I want your help in preventing a breakdown of the Settlement. I have pledged my honour to Lord Irwin that I shall do nothing that I could honourably refrain from doing to prevent a breakdown. But it takes two to play a game. I feel safe in the confidence that you on your part will not, if it is at all possible, allow a breakdown in regard to what you have rightly said is a gentleman’s agreement. 9

 I have taken some time in getting a reply to the various charges about Bihar of which you were good enough to send me copies. I now send you Babu Rajendra Prasad’s summary of the enquiry that he caused to be made into all the allegations. I am not burdening you with the report itself. I would be pleased to send it to you if you would care to follow up the summary. I send you also a copy of the complaints made by Babu Rajendra Prasad with reference to the implementing by the local government of the various clauses of the Settlement. Technically, about the lawyers, I know that the Government cannot be held responsible. But there are ways. 10 I can fully understand what Sir Malcolm Hailey says and nothing would please me better than to find that my visit to him is rendered unnecessary by the cultivators getting the relief which they need. I thank you too for your enquiry about my health. There is now nothing wrong with it. I still need some rest which I am taking as far as possible in the circumstances. 11 

I have received the enclosed account of a lathi charge in Ludhiana from a member of the Ludhiana Congress Committee. Of course it has been given to me for publication. Although it has no direct connection with the Settlement I feel that its spirit should prevent such occurrences. If you agree with me, you will please enquire. I shall await your reply before publishing the details. An eye-witness came all the way from Ludhiana to Kalka to describe the whole scene. 12 I have just arrived at Muttra and have to wait for the Frontier Mail for a about five hours. Local People have given me a version of what happened in a village called Bijhari near Muttra on 20th instant. I enclose herewith a copy of the statement they have given me. 18 men were arrested under warrant the gravamen of the complaint however is that the police acted far in excess of their authority. There is no complaint against the warrant itself. It was perfectly right for the authorities to arrest the men if in their opinion they had done anything wrong. 13

I enclose herewith a copy of the report received from Lala Duni Chand of Ambala, who is a prominent pleader in that part of the world. I would esteem a line from you even by wire as to whether you propose to take any action in the matter. Duty perhaps demands that I should take public notice of this action on the part of the Magistrate unless it is possible for you to get some relief. If the facts are as stated by Lala Duni Chand, the action on the part of the Magistrate denoted by these facts is surely against the spirit of peace which it was the prime object of the Settlement to establish. 14 You will recall our conversation about the Navajivan and Young India press. I wonder if you have got legal opinion. All the opinion that I can gather is that the clause certainly means delivery at the place from where the property was removed. But I shall be interested to know what your legal advisers have got to say. Meanwhile Young India and Navajivan are still labouring under a handicap in spite of the fact that the management owns suitable machinery and other material. 15 

There is still the fire-arms question to be decided. I do not know whether you obtained legal advice in the matter. Whatever the legal advice, I am quite certain of the conversation about this very matter at the time I suggested the expression “illegal possession”. If you will look up the original draft, you will perhaps recall the conversation because the original draft excluded fire-arms. May I remind you about Mathura and Ludhiana incidents? These are both matters deserving close scrutiny. 16 You will remember we discussed the question of students who had suspended their studies. From everywhere complaints continue to pour in. I think that it is highly necessary to take back these students unconditionally. It is terrible to think that they alone should be singled out for punishment. 17 This liquor business is causing a great deal of trouble. The following extracts from a letter from Calicut will show you what is to be said on the Congress side. I have given you already facts about picketing in Ahmadabad. It is high time that this matter is settled finally. 18

 You must have seen from the papers that Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan has been with me for some time. During the few moments that I could spare for him from day to day, I carried on my conversations with him and he has left on me the impression that he is a truthful and out and out believer in non-violence. He has no connection with the Amanullah movement. His work is solely concentrated upon the Khudai Khidmatgar movement. This movement consists in enlisting men for service. The following pledge is administered to them: “I shall be truthful, I shall be chaste, I shall be non-violent and not quarrel with my neighbours. I shall not covet my neighbors’ property. I shall be prepared to suffer even unto death for the freedom of the country.” Those who take the pledge and enlist themselves as Khudai Khidmatgars are expected to attend a weekly roll call in their respective villages. He is most emphatic in his declaration that there has been on the part of himself and his followers no breach of the Settlement and he says that he has everywhere preached to the people the necessity for carrying out its terms in so far as they are applicable to the people. But he says there are several breaches of the Settlement on the part of the officials and he relates the following:

(a) Many civil disobedience prisoners are not yet discharged in the Frontier Province including the Agency areas.

(b) He says that the people are being molested on the slightest pretext. The soldiers as they pass the villagers’ houses cry “Islam Moradabad”, “Gandhi Moradabad”, “Ghaffar Khan Moradabad”, and he adds that he has prohibited among his followers all objectionable cries. Khan Saheb admits that he did not visit the Commissioner and he says he refrained because he saw no change in the attitude of local officials and if he went, he was afraid of his being misrepresented.

He is quite prepared to see you or His Excellency the Viceroy provided I accompany him. I do feel that you should make his acquaintance, and if you think it worthwhile I shall gladly visit Simla solely for the purpose of introducing him to you. I think that the Settlement presumes mutual trust and it will therefore perhaps be wise on the part of the Government to know Khan Saheb personally and then test his assurances. Pending reply to this letter I have detained Khan Saheb. As he has been long enough with me and as I do not want to detain him longer than is absolutely necessary, I would ask you please to send me a telegraphic reply. I should add that Khan Saheb is most insistent on my visiting the Frontier Province and seeing things for me, making the acquaintance of the numerous Khudai Khidmatgars and studying his activity. I do feel that there should be no objection now to my visiting the Frontier Province. 19

I was wholly unprepared for such an opinion. I had flattered myself with the belief that my knowledge of law had not become absolutely rusty. But the opinion of your legal department shook what little confidence I had yet in my legal knowledge. I therefore hastened to refer the matter to the best counsel available in Bombay at the present moment. I am sending you a copy of their opinion. The first two signatories are ex-Advocates-General of Bombay and they are both today, as is also the third, distinguished practising lawyers. For the moment therefore my confidence is restored, but that can be of no avail to you. I can quite understand your not accepting the opinion of Bombay lawyers however eminent they may be, in the teeth of opinion from your legal department however contrary to common sense. I, therefore, suggest what I have suggested of the Government of Bombay.

As the matter involved is one of principle for the Management of the Navajivan Press, I would repeat the suggestion I have made to the Government of Bombay that the Chief Justice of Bombay should be appointed sole arbitrator in the matter. The Managing Board is naturally anxious to end this controversy and also to avoid a continuing loss that the deprivation of the press causes to them. I hope therefore that the matter will be finished one way or the other without delay. This impasse brings to me a matter of general importance. I am having, as I imagine, more trouble than I have told you from the Bombay Government in connection with the matters arising out of the Settlement. And there is trouble growing in the Madras Presidency over liquor picketing. Here is an extract from Syt. Rajagopalachari whose instructions on this very point you had seen and which you so admired that you asked me to congratulate him:

I had hitherto refrained from worrying you. The Government here is beginning to feel that peaceful picketing is not as harmless as they had imagined. They have discovered that it does stop drinking most effectively and as a result the revenue is threatened. They may hold renters to their contracts this year, but what about the next auction? They see that without any physical obstruction or coercion of any kind, picketing does keep people away from the shops. The renters too expected that like last year the congress activities would soon be interfered with by the police and so they did not themselves do anything at first to interfere with the volunteers. But now they realize that the Truce has put an end to the old order to things.

They are consequently in a fright. They have begun to make strong representations to Government demanding either police interference or writing off of dues. Both Government officials and renters are thus opening their eyes to the reality of the moral power of picketing and the implications of the Truce. Both Government officials and renters have, therefore, it seems, resolved on new tactics. There is almost by concerted action a number of cases cropping up everywhere of rowdyism to intimidate volunteers. Besides rowdyism, which might be expected, the renters whether instigated or encouraged by officials or not, I cannot yet say, are bringing up false charges through private complaints in order to get fines and imprisonments imposed on the workers and sympathizers and worry and tire out the Congress organizations. And magistrates, too, imagine that they should support the liquor-shop men.

Further, even where they know the cases are false, they dare not expose themselves to the suspicion that they favour the Congress and do not support the revenue. Local police authorities have begun to harass and interfere with the picketing. Finding that there is no sort of coercion or disturbance of the peace, and that they cannot legitimately object to the picketing, they are trying other ways. They are making demonstrations of police force, pushing the volunteers away to impossible distances from the shops and from each other and demanding the observance of conditions that reduce picketing to an ineffectual farce. Local police authorities are permitted to terrorize town and village folk and proclaim that any assistance or harbouring of Congress volunteers would amount to abetment of offenders. In fact, the 1930 atmosphere is being sought to be brought about. I have conscientiously tried to put the best construction on all that Government officials are doing. But I am afraid I must confess failure. If you have time, please go through the enclosures. You might be unable to interfere with the working or not working of the Settlement by local governments. Or your interference may not go far enough according to my view of the Settlement. Time has therefore perhaps arrived for the appointment of a permanent Board of Arbitration to decide question of interpretation of the Settlement and as to the full carrying out of the terms by the one party or the other. I would therefore like you to consider this suggestion. 20

If the facts stated by them are correct, I quite agree with you that picketing should be suspended. I am therefore writing to the local Congress Committee to investigate the matter, telling them that unless they can satisfactorily prove the relevant allegations made in Messrs Ramjilal’s letter are incorrect, picketing should be suspended. I enclose copy of my letter for your information. 21 Here are copies of letters received by Syts. Morarji Desai and Durlabhji Desai, ex-Deputy Collectors for both of whom the Central Government had advised the Bombay Government to give pension or gratuity in lieu of pension. You will remember that this was arranged because you had suggested to Lord Irwin that it would be embarrassing for Provincial Governments to restore officials of high rank to their original position. I remember your having told me during our conversations in Simla that the Bombay Government had difficulty about giving anything to the two officials concerned. But I was unprepared for the letter according to the enclosed copy. Both these gentlemen had applied not for grace but in terms of the Settlement. May I therefore ask you to advise the Bombay Government to carry out the Settlement in respect of these two officials? 22

I do not know whether you obtained legal opinion regarding confiscated guns. Complaints are being received from many places that these guns are not being restored. In most of these cases, so far as I can see, the guns were possessed for defending owners and their property against wild beasts. I have several such cases from Karnatak. 23 I have your letter of 16th June enclosing extract from an account received from the Madras Government regarding picketing. It does make bad reading if the report is true. But what I am receiving almost daily from Madras from workers who are thoroughly reliable eye-witnesses makes me distrust the reports that you are receiving. But I know that this takes us no further. So far as the Congress is concerned I want it to implement the Settlement to the fullest extent. I therefore make an offer. Will you advise local governments to appoint a Board of Enquiry consisting of a nominee on their behalf and a nominee on behalf of the Congress to conduct a summary enquiry into the allegations on either side, and wherever it is found that the rule of peaceful picketing has been at all violated picketing would be entirely suspended, the Government undertaking on its part to stop prosecutions wherever it is found that they have been undertaken in spite of peaceful picketing. And if my suggestion does not commend itself to you, you will perhaps suggest something better and more acceptable. Meanwhile I am enquiring into the specific charge mentioned in your letter. 24  

You will remember the complaint you sent me about Cawnpore and about which I agreed that if the particular allegations were true, it is a distinct breach of the Settlement. I had therefore written to the Secretary. 25  Here is a copy of a précis of an important case in Meerut. The précis is so admirably prepared that it makes easy reading. I do suggest that it is a terrible thing that a cultured man likes Syt. Shital Prasad Tayal should not be reinstated. I do hope that you will intervene in the matter. You will observe that the incumbent alleged to be permanent did not take up the post and the temporary man was made permanent two months after the Settlement. 26 I will not, for the time being, trouble you with any further argument though I dissent from the view taken by you. I shall watch the working of the instructions issued to the local governments. I take it that I am free to make use of the contents of the Memorandum in my correspondence with local governments on this question. I shall not make use of it till I hear from you. 27

I believe in the English saying, “Take care of your pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves”. If we act on the square over the comparatively little settlement, the big issue in London will take care of itself. I do therefore want (p. 69) you please to straighten out things on your side. There is a tendency in the Provinces to crush the Congress and the Congress spirit. It is like distrusting or belittling one’s partner. On my side, I do not want you to spare me. Your indictments I shall appreciate. I do not want to hide or overlook a single breach on our part. I want us to make (p. 70) full reparation for every wrong act we may do. For I desire with all my heart a permanent settlement, an honourable partnership. This is impossible if we conceal our weaknesses or condone breaches on the part of workers. If you only saw the letters I daily write, the discussions I daily hold on the necessity of a faithful (p. 71) performance of what you have called gentlemen’s agreement. Khansaheb’s speeches have not all been correctly reported. I wish it had been possible for you to have met him. I shall write to you about Pandit Jawaharlal later. You must not get ill. The newspaper (72) cutting with your comment came as a tonic relieving the depression of exhausting correspondence dealing with all kinds of complaints. 28 

I have your letter of 23rd inst. setting forth objections raised against the recent resolution of the Working Committee on boycott of foreign cloth. I have re-read the resolution in the light of the objections raised and I have come to the conclusion that the objections are based on an insufficient reading of the resolution and ignorance of the previous history of the Congress policy in the matter. Long before the civil disobedience campaign and ever since the Bengal Partition days, boycott of foreign cloth and especially British cloth and general British goods became the policy of the Congress. In 1920 boycott of British goods was dropped at my instance and replaced by boycott of foreign cloth on predominantly economic grounds and ever since it has so remained. Whilst I was in Yeravda jail between 1922 and ‘24 a resolution adopting boycott of British goods was passed at one of the sessions of the Congress and since then, boycott of foreign cloth and boycott of British goods have run on parallel lines.

During the last struggle these assumed an aggressive political character and became practically merged. As a result of the Delhi Settlement, boycott of British goods was discontinued and the effect of discontinuance was so immediate that within a week of the Settlement orders for British machinery and other goods were freely sent. Boycott of foreign cloth however remained not as a political weapon but as an economic necessity. Thus complete prohibition of the sale of foreign cloth as an economic necessity has been the settled Congress policy since 1920. It was torn from its original anti-British setting. A mere pursuit of this policy can in no sense be interpreted to mean interference with the liberty of action of the individual unless the policy was enforced through violent measures. But the history of the methods adopted by the Congress since the Settlement, I think, furnishes sufficient evidence to show that both the letter and the spirit of the Settlement have been adhered to in the vast majority of cases by Congress organizations and prompt measures have been taken wherever any departure from peaceful methods has been detected. Objection has been taken to the use of the word ‘permit’ in the resolution in question. Of course the word has reference only to those who put themselves under Congress discipline and so long as the Congress retains the influence it has over the people, the use of the word ‘permit’ is not only legitimate but necessary if the Congress resolutions are to convey the intention of the authors.

So long as the Congress policy remains what it is, it is not open to Congress organizations to permit all those under their influence importation of foreign cloth even if individuals desired it. As to disciplinary action the words of the resolution are surely quite clear. Disciplinary action contemplated is “against the Committee or the individual as the case may be” and Committee or the individual means only a Congress Committee or its individual members. That all the obligation that is imposed by the Congress is purely moral and devoid of any violence is abundantly clear from the fact that breaches of pledges given to the Congress continue to be reported, the Congress remaining helpless. At the same time it is to be confessed that in a majority of cases the moral authority of the Congress is felt and accepted by the people. Lastly, I entirely endorse your remark that “it is most undesirable that there should be any ground for misunderstanding as to the attitude of the Congress in this matter.” And I assure you that members of the Working Committee are most anxious to avoid any misunderstanding, their desire being, for the good name of the Congress if for nothing else, to be meticulous in the performance of all the obligations undertaken on behalf of the Congress in the Delhi Settlement. 29

I think the local officials could have warned the people and waited for the warning to take effect. The withdrawal seems to have been so abrupt and peremptory. I am however myself making enquiries in the matter and shall let you know the result. Of course I entirely agree with you that the use of any transport other than human is not to be countenanced. 30 This letter is an appeal to you as a Punjabi. There is a prisoner who has served over 19 years’ imprisonment whose name is Pandit Jagat Ram. My youngest son who was arrested in Delhi as a civil resister and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment was in the Gujarat jail in common with several other civil resisters. He tells me that Pandit Jagat Ram is a most inoffensive man, has no anarchical tendencies. His father died on the 22nd inst. His mother and brother died before his father. There is only the widow left. Several representations, I hear, have been made to the Punjab Government. No one knows why Pandit Jagat Ram has not yet been discharged. This case has no connection with the Settlement. I simply bring it to your notice so as to make an appeal to your humanity and to ask you to use your good offices with your friends in the Punjab Government if you think that you could, without difficulty, use them. I am not worrying you with the details of the case which are well known to the Punjab Secretariat. 31

Assuming that you are getting Young India, I am not sending you copies containing special reference to acts of provincial Governments in breach of the Settlement. It gave me joy to read in the newspapers today, that the two confidential letters addressed to taluqdars by the Deputy Commissioner Rai Bareli had been withdrawn. But that, good as it is, is surely not enough. Wholesale gagging of Congressmen, their arrests, hundreds of notices on kisans bode ill, and make me extremely nervous as to the situation. These ill omens are enforced by bad news from the provinces. Some of these matters I have brought to your notice. I am not feeling much better here either, though I am putting off the agony by exercising the greatest patience, and continually seeing local officials. I do not know whether you can help to improve the situation. The only remedy I can think of is the appointment of the Arbitration Board I have proposed. There is such an accumulation of matters to be decided. 32 

I have a letter from Mian Ahmad Shah enclosing copy of a letter addressed to the Deputy Commissioner, Peshawar and enclosures thereto. I send you herewith copies of these papers. And below is an extract from a letter just received from Khan Saheb Abdul Ghaffar Khan. The Government seems to be bent on repression. Two of the Khudai Khidmatgars were shot dead and it is generally believed that the officials had a hand in it. We inquired and discovered that those Khudai Khidmatgars had no enemies, nor had they any quarrel with anyone. A young man had informed me that a police sub-inspector had asked him to take any kind of revenge he wants to take from his uncle; he could even kill him if he liked. The sub-inspector assured the young man that no action will be taken against him. The young man, my informant, and his uncle were not on good terms and the latter is the President of the local Jirga. The Government is arresting and punishing people under Sec. 40 F. R. Act and they have promulgated Sec. 144 Cr. P.C. in many places without any reason.

The police generally threaten and assault Khudai Khidmatgars. It is generally believed by the people that the Government is purposely provoking people to create disturbance. The police severely assault small boys for crying Inqilab Zindabad. On the 13th of June some Europeans were driving in car at Sudoom, Tehsil Mardan, when a small boy cried Inqilab Zindabad. The Europeans stopped the car and got down and caught hold of the boy and threw him in the central canal. Then again, on the 13th of July at Nevakali, Tahsil Savabi some Europeans severely assaulted a boy for raising the same cry. For realizing rent, they put the people to all kinds of torture. They are made to sit the whole day under the hot sun and then they are put in small dungeons which have no ventilation. I hope you will be good enough to take notice of these facts. While our fight was going on there was not so much repression as it is now. I have done my best to keep people quiet and once a Government official paid me this compliment, but how long it will be possible for me to make them remain quiet? In Kohat, village people were allowed to take away salt free of cost before the fight but now after the Truce even this has been stopped and they are no longer allowed to take away salt free of cost. These statements make confusion worse confounded. On the one hand you give me information that the Khudai Khidmatgars nicknamed “Red Shirts” are causing endless trouble. On the other there are complaints on behalf of them, as now, that their liberty is unduly being interfered with. There ought to be a way out of knowing the real truth. Could you please tell me what Malkhand Agency is? Is it or is it not within the zone of the Settlement? 33

In accordance with my promise made at the Viceregal Lodge this evening I reduce to writing my request for an impartial tribunal to decide upon matters of interpretation of the Settlement between the Government and the Congress that might be submitted to it from time to time whether on behalf of the Government or the Congress. The following are the matters that require immediate adjudication unless there is agreement between the Government and the Congress as to the interpretation:

(1) Whether picketing includes picketing of liquor-shop auction sales? 

(2) Whether it is competent for provincial Governments to prescribe the distance at which picketing can be done so as to render it impossible for picketers to be within sight of the shop picketed?

(3) Whether it is competent for a Government to limit the number of picketers so as to make it impossible to picket all the entrances of a particular shop?

(4) Whether it is competent for a Government to defeat peaceful picketing by permitting sale of liquor by the picketed shopkeeper at places other than licensed and during odd hours?

(5) Interpretation of clauses 13 and 14 in the application of particular cases which provincial Governments have regarded as not coming under those clauses and the Congress have held otherwise.

(6) Interpretation of the word ‘return’ in clause 16(a).

(7) Whether a return of guns forfeited after cancellation of licenses for participation in civil disobedience is covered by the Settlement?

(8) Whether restoration of certain property seized under Ordinance IX and of watan lands in Karnatak is covered by the Settlement and if it is, is it competent for a Government to impose any conditions upon such restoration?

(9) The meaning of the word ‘permanent’ in Clause 19.

(10) Whether it is competent for the Education Department to impose conditions upon students who took part in the civil disobedience campaign before admitting them or in virtue of perpetual rustication imposed during the civil disobedience campaign to debar the admission of students under the ban?

(11) Whether it is competent for a Government to punish a person or corporation, by reason of his or its having taken part in the civil disobedience campaign, e.g., forfeiture of pension, or grants and the like to municipalities?

These are not to be treated as the only matters to be submitted to the tribunal. It is possible that unforeseen cases may arise in future which may be claimed to come under the Settlement. The procedure to be adopted would be that written statements would be submitted both on behalf of the Government and the Congress and the points would be argued by counsel on behalf of the Government as on behalf of the Congress. The decision of the tribunal would be binding on both the parties. As I told you in the course of our conversation whilst I say nothing at the present moment as to a tribunal for the examination of questions of facts in the event of differences between the Government and the Congress I have not waived the demand. Occasions may arise when the differences may be so vital as to make it obligatory on any party to press for a tribunal for the examination of such cases also. I should, however, hope that we might be able to settle all points of difference without reference to any tribunal. 34

As promised I enclose herewith the speeches of Mr. H. D. Rajah for which he was convicted. Whilst they may be called hysterical, I can read no violence or incitement thereto in the speeches. The copies are authentic because they have been supplied to me by the Govt. of Bombay. Will you kindly return the copies as I have not kept a duplicate? 35 I have to acknowledge with thanks your letter of even date enclosing the new draft. Sir Cowasji has kindly also communicated to me the amendments suggested by you. My colleagues and I have very carefully considered the amended draft which we are prepared to accept subject to the following remarks: In paragraph 4 it is not possible for me on behalf of the Congress to subscribe to the position taken up by the Government. For we feel that, where in the opinion of the Congress a grievance arising out of the working of the Settlement is not redressed, an enquiry is a necessity of the case, because of the fact that civil disobedience remains under suspension during the pendency of the Delhi Pact. But if the Government of India and local Governments are not prepared to grant an enquiry, my colleagues and I have no objection to the clause remaining.

The result will be that, whilst the Congress will not press for an enquiry in regard to ‘the other matter hitherto raised’ on its behalf, if unfortunately any grievance is so acutely felt that it becomes a paramount duty of the Congress to seek some method of relief, in the absence of an enquiry, in the shape of defensive direct action, the Congress should be held free to adopt such remedy notwithstanding the suspension of civil disobedience. I need hardly assure the Government, that it would be the constant endeavour of the Congress to avoid direct action and to gain relief by discussion, persuasion and the like. The statement of Congress position given here has become necessary in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding in the future or a charge of breach of faith on the part of the Congress. In the event of a successful issue to the present discussions, I assume that the communiqué, this letter and your reply would be simultaneously published. 36

This is to tell you how grieved I felt in Simla over what appeared to me to be your obstructive tactics. I hope I am wrong in my fears and that you were not responsible for the exasperating situation that led to the waste of precious three days. The securing of a constitution is nothing to me compared to the joy of discovering human contacts by which one could swear. I shall soon forget the sad memories of the past three days and I know you will forgive me if I have unwittingly misjudged you. But the future fills me with fear and misgivings. If you will distrust Sardar Patel, Pandit Jawaharlal and Abdul Ghaffar Khan an explosion is almost unavoidable. You will most certainly avoid it by trusting them. I think I know the influence you have. May I assume your promise to use it a right? I have written thus freely in the exercise of a privilege of friendship and therefore hope not to be misunderstood. My right hand needing rest, I have to write with the left hand. I could not dictate a personal letter like this. 37

I had no time to take a statement from Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan about Akbarpura and the treatment of prisoners whom, for want of a better distinguishing term, I describe as political. The Khan Saheb gave me a harrowing description of the prisoners in the Peshawar jail who were convicted in connection with a drama about which you would remember we had a discussion. Khan Saheb tells me that the prisoners are kept in irons and given the heavy work of turning the kharas. I do not mind heavy work being given to able-bodied men, but the ablest-bodied men have also limits to their capacity for exertion and it is no joke to work a kharas with irons on one’s legs. I enclose herewith a statement made by Shrimati Khurshedbehn regarding what she saw of injured men and women in Akbarpura. I would like you not to brush aside all these statements as false or exaggerated. Her statement about Dara Ismail Khan which also I enclose herewith is worthy of attention. 38

After the receipt of your very frank and good letter received by me in London, I had not expected the turn the events took on my landing. I suppose I am right in thinking that yours is the brain working behind this repression. If my surmise is correct, I should not perhaps be shocked at anything that is happening. For did you not tell me in Delhi that you could hit hard in fight, as you could be perfectly warm in friendship? I am not going to consider you as an enemy. I hope you will not regard it as impertinence. Did I not tell you in Simla that after all we had to convert the I.C.S. rather than the English people as a whole? I do not despair. Civil Resistance is a method of conversion. Behind it there is no ill will. Perhaps you have seen my letter to the Viceroy sent some days ago. Last week I wrote to the Governor of Bombay. If the fact of the Government blunder is not recognized and repression must continue its mapped course are some of the things that are said to be happening necessary? One reads in the newspapers that notwithstanding denials, things are the worst in the Frontier Province If they are not, why this expulsion of Father Elwin, a cultured Englishman, and of Miss Naoroji, who is no immature girl but a woman of high attainments past 30? She is more English than Indian, having been brought up as a child under English influences. She is no politician. She is a polished singer. Love of the country has drawn her to the struggle, as conviction of British misrule in India has drawn Father Elwin to the Indian cause. You ought not to repel the advances of such men and women. Try and see them. They are no fanatics.

I must confess that I am filled with the greatest misgivings about the happenings in the Frontier Province. How I wish my misgivings were wholly unjustified, I would need very strong evidence to allay my worst fears. I now come nearer home. Horses were run over an absolutely peaceful meeting in Ahmadabad. I observe that one of the injured boys has just died. I know some of the Ashram boys had severe injuries done to them. And I am glad that they had them rather than unknown boys or men. In Madras one youngster has succumbed to lathi blows. There they play hose pipes even on women. Two women are reported to have fainted through the force of the jet of water. As Mrs. Gandhi is reported to have said justly at her trial, what is the use of women like her or men like Sardar Vallabhbhai and me being pampered prisoners when others who, being misled, as you would say by us, break laws and suffer lathi blows or worse? I do really think that there is much in what The Daily Express says when it suggests that I as the author of “all this mischief” should be sent to the gallows. Does it not strike you that there is something terribly wrong with a Government that has to declare a thousand associations unlawful? How is it possible to crush a movement which has taken such deep root? You have suppressed social and economic activities. You have taken possession of school buildings, hospitals, khadi depots, a library that contains valuable research and religious works. Is that what you meant by hitting hard? I fear you have undone Lord Irwin’s work.

I had come with the fullest desire to tender co-operation, if it was at all possible. You should have seen me, reasoned with me and if you had found me willfully obstinate, you might have taken such course as you had thought necessary. As it is, I cannot help feeling that you took a course which I should not have thought you to be capable of taking. I plead: retrace your steps. Some day there is no doubt there will be negotiation if not between the present Government and the present Congressmen, then between our successors. Let us not do anything that will make them meet with bitterness in their souls. I can say for myself with the clearest possible conscience that I have done nothing to embitter the relations. If you too can say likewise, I can only say let an impartial authority judge between us. In any case, so long as there is breathe in me I shall long for co-operation even through my non-co-operation. I do not believe in a make-believe cooperation. You will please pardon me for this long letter. If it is an infliction, you are to blame, for you allowed me to think that we had become good friends. I have exercised the privilege of a friend. 39

 I must thank you for your kind letter of the 2nd instant given to me on the 10th. Though I do not share your rosy opinion about the working of repression, I know I must not enter into any argument. I write this only to correct one grave misunderstanding. I cannot accept the compliment you pay me for my loyalty to my colleagues as if it was the highest thing in life to me. I wish you could have known that all my loyalties are subservient to my loyalty to truth. I have been known, even during the past twelve years, to sacrifice friendships for the sake of what I have considered to be truth. I am happy in the knowledge that at no time have I had colleagues more disposed than now to follow my guidance even though they might differ with me in important matters short of vital principle. Might not history have been written differently, if among the celestials I had enjoyed for my loyalty to truth the credit you kindly give me for my loyalty to my colleagues, and if therefore I had received glad response to my request for the interview? God or the gods in New Delhi had willed otherwise!!! 40

I was distressed to read a note by the Director of Information, Bombay that the Bombay Government intended to sell out beyond recall the lands of ‘recalcitrant’ farmers of Ras and such other villages. I do not know that you can recall the remark made by Lord Irwin last year, in the course of the conversations, that under a recurrence of the circumstances which had actuated the Government to sell out some holdings in Ras during the previous Satyagraha campaign, the experiment must not be repeated. I do not suggest that this remark was anything more than the then personal wish of Lord Irwin. But I cannot help feeling hurt that all such generous wishes of an honourable and high functionary should be in danger of being set aside or overlooked. And even apart from Lord Irwin’s obiter statement, I would like the legacies of bitterness’s to be left either by Government officials or Congressmen to be reduced to a minimum, if they cannot be avoided altogether. Surely all irrevocable acts which parties might possibly deplore in future or for which posterity may curse us should be avoided. 41

 

References:

 

  1. Letter to H. W. Emerson, March 7, 1931
  2. Letter to H. W. Emerson, March 8, 1931
  3. Letter to H. W. Emerson, March 8, 1931
  4. Letter to H. W. Emerson, March 20, 1931
  5. Letter to H. W. Emerson, March 20, 1931
  6. Letter to H. W. Emerson, March 20, 1931
  7. Young India, 20-8-1931
  8. Letter to H. W. Emerson, April 9, 1931
  9. Letter to H. W. Emerson, April 27, 1931
  10. Letter to H. W. Emerson, May 4, 1931  
  11. Letter to H. W. Emerson, May 7, 1931
  12. Letter to H. W. Emerson, May 19, 1931
  13. Letter to H. W. Emerson, May 24, 1931
  14. Letter to H. W. Emerson, May 24, 1931
  15. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 2, 1931
  16. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 3, 1931
  17. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 3, 1931
  18. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 5, 1931
  19. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 13, 1931
  20. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 14, 1931
  21. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 18, 1931
  22. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 19, 1931
  23. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 19, 1931
  24. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 20, 1931
  25. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 24, 1931
  26. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 24, 1931
  27. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 24, 1931
  28. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 24, 1931
  29. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 30, 1931
  30. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 30, 1931
  31. Letter to H. W. Emerson, June 30, 1931
  32. Young India, 27-8-1931
  33. Letter to H. W. Emerson, July 20, 1931
  34. Letter to H. W. Emerson, July 21, 1931
  35. Letter to H. W. Emerson, July 22, 1931
  36. Letter to H. W. Emerson, August 27, 1931
  37. Letter to H. W. Emerson, August 28, 1931
  38. Letter to H. W. Emerson, August 28, 1931
  39. Letter to H. W. Emerson, January 27, 1932
  40. Letter to H. W. Emerson, March 13, 1932
  41. Letter to H. W. Emerson, March 28, 1932

 

 

 

 

 

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