Item 8 - Extract from a letter from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

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MONT II/A/3/26/8

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Extract from a letter from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

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  • 5 Jan. 1922 (Creation)

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It is difficult to predict the results of the Congress meeting at Ahmedabad and the Khil-afat Committee of the All-India Moslem League. Hazrat Mohani’s speech in favour of elimi-nating the doctrine of non-violence from the Congress resolution and declaring for complete independence and a republic was well received, though defeated. Gandhi opposed it, but pos-sibly from mere expediency, and some consider he may be preparing eventually for revolution with violence. Lloyd is strongly opposed to a conference, and wishes to arrest Gandhi. The question is to be discussed in Council. Reading believes they should wait until he takes a defi-nite step, and points out that Gandhi’s speeches at Congress concentrated on the enrolment of volunteers sworn to non-violence and to meeting peacefully to promote the cause of the Congress volunteers and to protest against a law which leads to the arrest of those whose only offence, as Gandhi’s supporters say, is non-co-operation. This is the view of Congress, which Reading does not accept, pointing out that intimidatory acts are common amongst the volun-teers but that it is very difficult to obtain evidence against the offenders. In view of the resolu-tion in favour of civil disobedience, they will watch events carefully. ‘Gandhi is appointed Dic-tator and can do as he pleases.’ And if he is arrested another will take his place, with the stimu-lus that Gandhi, ‘the saint’, is in prison. The visit of the Prince of Wales would not prevent him from arresting Gandhi, if necessary. He could not give the assurance requested by Lloyd, but believes he is right in thinking that Malaviya, etc., are working to get Gandhi to assent to a conference. He cannot see any alternative to either pursuing the present line of prosecutions, etc., or meeting in conference.

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