Item 2 - Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

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MONT II/A/3/2/2


Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu


  • 27 July 1921 (Creation)

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Simla.—Section 2. Violence has been reported in connection with the Buckingham Mills strike. The Governor has visited the area and held discussions with a deputation. (Bombay.) The Ali brothers and Kitchlew visited Poona and Gokak, where Kitchlew made objectional speeches and Mohammad Ali referred to the emptying of police barracks. In an article in Young India Gandhi claimed that the Ali brothers’ apology was instigated by him, and was not made to evade prosecution but to put them right with their consciences and their friends, adding that the Government was free to prosecute them in connection with the prohibition of the meeting of the City Congress Committee at Lahore. He also stated that officials were provok-ing non-co-operators to disobedience. Gandhi has directed wholesale piece-good merchants to clear their stocks of foreign cloth and cancel orders, and has appealed to mill owners not to raise prices. The Bombay Provincial Congress Committee has arranged to collect and burn clothes made from foreign cloth. A committee has been appointed to manage local Tilak Swaraj funds, which are to be used only for the spread of charkas, the conduct of national schools, the elevation of depressed classes, famine relief, and liquor prohibition.

Section 3. The All-India Khilafat Conference at Karachi was poorly attended and excited little local interest.

Section 4. The resolutions at the conference at Karachi included a declaration of allegiance to Turkey, a decision to send emissaries to other Moslem countries to promote Islamic brotherhood, congratulations to Kemalists on efforts to save Islam and drive foreigners out of Turkish territory, and a reiteration of the decision to start civil disobedience if Britain declared war on Angora. In that case Indian Mussulmans would establish complete independance at the Christmas session of the National Congress and hoist the national flag of the Indian Republic. Service in the British Army was declared sinful for all Muslims. Mohammad Ali made a long speech largely concerning the apology to the Government; he also referred to the interview between the Viceroy and Gandhi, saying that if the Viceroy did not agree to a joint announcement Gandhi would issue a separate one, and that the people would sooner believe Gandhi than the Viceroy. The Bombay Congress Committee has stopped the picketing of liquor shops to allow shopkeepers to press Government to refund licence-fees. There are reports of a strike on the Gondal Railway and of disorder at Matiari in the Hyderabad District, Sind.

Section 5. The conduct of local authorities in the disorder at Dharwar is much regretted in the extremist press. (Bengal.) The excitement over the exodus of coolies is dying down, but unrest is reported among them in the tea gardens of Darjeeling and Dooars.

Section 6. A resolution in the Legislative Council to appoint an inquiry into the Chandpur incident has been defeated, but there is much recrimination against officials.

Section 7. An attempt to excite coolies in the tea gardens of Chittagong has so far been unsuccessful. An attempt has been made in Tharawandi division to control supplies by forming village unions, to prohibit exportation of rice, corn, and jute, and to sell to non-Indians only at exorbitant rates, in order to injure European interests and secure control over the merchant classes.

Section 8. Local Government has issued a circular in Eastern Bengal pointing out the folly of strikes which increased the cost of living.

Section 9. There are signs of reaction against non-co-operation. Picketing and forcible acts in connection with the temperance movement are abating.

Section 10. At a meeting at Calcutta it was disclosed that a large proportion of the money realised from the sale of Khilafat notes has been misappropriated.

Section 11. Revolutionaries released under the amnesty are taking advantage of non-co-operation to strengthen their organisations. Many may be waiting to begin campaigning again, but many are known to be working earnestly for reforms.

Section 12. The Assam-Bengal Railway strike continues, but passenger traffic has re-sumed.

Section 13. Volunteer corps in Faridpur, whose number has been increased, are active in enforcing the boycott of courts and liquor-shops and carrying on village propaganda. The success of anti-non-co-operation propaganda is encouraging. A Khilafat worker and two non-co-operation workers have been imprisoned. The attempted escape from Midnapur jail has been proved to be due to ideas about Gandhi, the prisoners having been led to believe that the British Raj was over. Calcutta piece-good merchants are uncertain about the boycott of foreign cloth, but it is generally believed that the movement will fail because Indian mills are unable to supply the country’s needs and because important Indian interests are involved in the import trade.

Section 14. (United Provinces.) Many arrests have been made at Aligarh. S. A. Sherwani, a barrister, has been imprisoned for a year, and Motilal Nehru has been served with a notice under the CR.P. Code (the relevant section is cited in full).

Section 15. (Punjab.) Extremist Sikhs are hoping to secure strong non-co-operation members at next month’s Committee election. Non-co-operators are jubilant at Gandhi’s success in raising a crore of rupees. There are continuing signs of dissension among non-co-operation Panchayats in Jullundur division.

Section 16. (Burma.) K. Oktaca, a Buddhist monk, has been imprisoned for ten months for making speeches. The hartal previously reported is very extensive. A meeting of Burmese ladies has resolved to boycott British goods in protest at Oktaca’s conviction.

Section 17. (Bihar and Orissa.) The political situation is improving. Panchayat is becoming unpopular, the picketing of liquor-shops is ceasing, and some cases of illegal distillation have been detected. The boycott of foreign goods is making little progress.

Section 18. The Provincial Congress Committee discussed resolutions (A) to start civil disobedience on 1 August, (B) to organise and train volunteers, and (C) to provide for families of non-co-operators in jail. (A) was opposed and may lead to a split; (B) and (C) were adopted.

Section 19. The split between Hindus and Mohammedans continues, but Gandhi’s instructions that Hindus are not to interfere with cow-killing are becoming known. The industrial situation remains quiet. (Central Provinces.) The situation is greatly improved. Political activity is reduced, largely because agricultural operations are in progress. The suspension of land revenues and the distribution of loans and relief have convinced people that the Government is more their friend than the non-co-operators. In towns the improvements are attributed to prosecutions, which have been most useful against picketing. Several non-co-operation leaders have resumed practice. The arbitration courts have expired. The charka movement is considered a failure. Attendance at schools and colleges is becoming normal. Local Governments are uncertain whether the improvement is permanent; much depends on the monsoon. (Assam.) There is little activity on the part of non-co-operators, and there are no further strikes in the tea gardens.

Section 20. The Assam-Bengal Railway strike continues, but more trains are running. Two minor strikes for increased wages have been settled, one of coolies at Dibrugarh Ghat and the other at the Assam Saw Mill Co. works.

Section 21. (North West Frontier Province.) The Central Khilafat Committee’s visit to Bannu has been stopped under Defence of India Rules. Efforts to revive agitation among Sikhs have been reported from Hazara and Peshawar. (Delhi.) The monsoon has arrived. The immediate political future is dependent on economic conditions. Meetings continue, at which C.I.D. reporters have been hustled. Most piece-good dealers believe the boycott of foreign cloth will fail. (General.) The situation is better. Many people doubt the success of Gandhi’s boycott policy. Local Governments have been asked to be especially vigorous in prosecuting offences committed by picketing parties. A decision on civil disobedience will probably be made at the Congress Committee meeting on 28 July. The venue has been shifted from Lucknow to Bombay to accommodate Gandhi. Declarations by extremist khilafat leaders against service in the army and the police are becoming more frequent, and prosecution is being considered.

Section 22. (Calcutta.) The Bar oppose the constitution of a Court of Ultimate Appeal in India, as it would command less confidence than the Privy Council. The recommendations of the Press Act Committee are generally approved by both the Indian and European Press. The Committee on Repressive Law is now sitting in Simla.

(Mechanical copy of a typed original.)

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