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Papers of Edwin Montagu, Part II Jinnah, Mohamed Ali (1876–1948), creator of Pakistan
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Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Malaviya has come to see him, urging that, when the Prince of Wales arrives, an announcement should be made that all remaining martial law prisoners will be released, and that the British Government will undertake to do its utmost for the restoration of Thrace and Smyrna to Turkey. Malaviya believes this would effect a marked change, and a conference could be called to discuss swaraj. Reading pointed out that, with regard to the prisoners, he had already done the utmost he could recommend. Malaviya suggested it might be politically expedient, and Reading asked for whom he was speaking, suspecting him of being optimistic as to Gandhi’s future action. Malaviya admitted it, but claimed to speak for most Indian people, and pointed out that he had persuaded Gandhi to mollify his statements regarding the people’s attitude on the Prince’s visit. But Reading was little impressed, pointing out that all Gandhi’s organs continued to advocate boycott, and that his few sentences in Young India were of little account compared with previous injunctions and resolutions. He believes Malaviya is anxious for the success of the visit, but is powerless in view of the political crowds surrounding Gandhi. Reading told him that his policy of conciliation had failed, and that Gandhi and his movement had become more violent. Malaviya objected that, though a resolution for civil disobedience had been passed, there was little enthusiasm for it outside the Committee and a few extremists, and claimed conciliation was working. He suggested holding a conference at which all the various parties would be represented, and asserted that Gandhi would attend. Reading asked for more precise proposals, and Malaviya said he would consider the matter with his friends. He believes Malaviya and Jinnah are working together, but does not know how far they represent Gandhi. Malaviya believes Gandhi intended to spend one or two months at a village in Gujarat organising civil disobedience, but this is doubtful.

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Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Refers to A3/27/8. Civil disobedience at Bardoli has not yet started, and the Congress Committee meeting at Surat has requested persons throughout the province to pay taxes, except in cases where Gandhi’s consent has been obtained for suspension, in preparation for mass civil disobedience. This is apparently because Malaviya, Jinnah, and others are trying to persuade Gandhi to postpone civil disobedience until the question of a conference is cleared up. He is preparing an answer to the secretaries of the Bombay Conference, who have asked him what his objections are to a conference are, as they desire to meet them, and he also has some letters from Gandhi, which he has postponed answering. Montagu should do as he thinks right about the Cabinet. The only point of difference between the Government of Bombay and the Government of India was that the latter did not wish Gandhi to be prose-cuted for seditious statements made at the Bombay conference when it was clear that he was about to declare for civil disobedience. Confirms his objections to deporting Gandhi. Recent reports indicate that Gandhi is trying to find a way out of civil disobedience. The Bombay Government have not yet sent a definite answer about the prosecution of Mohani. Public meetings for civil disobedience may be prohibited either under the Seditious Meetings Act or the Criminal Procedure Code.

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Printed copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Quotes the text of a telegram from Sir George Lloyd, who advises that, as a result of the conference convened by Jinnah, Bhurgri, Malaviya, and others at Bombay, a deputation will probably go to Lord Reading to request a conference. Reports from Ahmedabad suggest that Gandhi would welcome such a conference. Lloyd warns against parleying on such a proposal, and thinks that he should arrest Gandhi promptly for sedition, in order to preserve the forces of law and order from political infection, and as a response to the Congress resolutions and speeches such as those made at Ahmedabad. His Council would support him in such action. Asks for Reading’s views on the subject. Once Gandhi was arrested there should be no further negotiations with him.

(Cuttings from a larger document, pasted to a sheet of paper.)

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Part 1. He has asked Lloyd for evidence to support his statements regarding Gandhi [see A3/24/18]. Willingdon and Butler are also against a conference, while Ronaldshay and the Governors of the Punjab, Behar, Central Provinces, Burma, and Assam are in favour. He hopes that the instructions given to Local Governments will reduce the number of arrests. Malaviya, Jinnah, Bhurgri, Purshattamdas, Thakurdas and others have called a conference of all parties at Bombay, which Gandhi has undertaken to attend. If an agreement can be reached, they will send a deputation to Reading.

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Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

He has met with Jinnah, whom he thought distinctly able, and somewhere between a moderate and an extremist. Like Malaviya he has strong views on the acceleration of swaraj and the redress of Punjab wrongs, and, though he is in favour of Khilafat agitation, he considers Gandhi’s policy destructive. He claims to hold a position of influence with Indians of vari-ous opinions. Jinnah outlined a plan for settling the present agitation, placing in the forefront the Khilafat question. He said that most Mohammedans would be content with a settlement which restored Smyrna and Thrace to Turkey, leaving the Hedjaz and Mesopotamia under the rule of Hassan and Feisul. He thinks that questions about Palestine and the Punjab might al-so be settled, but postponed discussion of swaraj. Reading replied that policy with regard to Smyrna and Thrace rested with the British Government, not himself, but said that he would continue to represent Indian opinion. They also touched briefly on the questions of martial law prisoners, swaraj, etc. Jinnah gave the definite impression that he desired to arrive at a settlement, particularly as he said he had seen both Gandhi and Malaviya before leaving for Delhi. But Reading is not inclined to use him as a broker with Gandhi, and, though he is anxious to banish illegal and substitute constitutional agitation he is not prepared to make substantial sacrifices to achieve it. Reading was unimpressed by Jinnah’s personality, as distinguished from his intellect, and detected in him a strong anti-British feeling, though masked at present, and some want of scruple. He prefers Malaviya.

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Telegram from Edwin Montagu to Lord Reading

Has had a long interview with Jinnah, who resembles Malaviya in many ways, though he is less personally attractive and even more vain. He is an educated Indian, too sensible to follow Gandhi as a political leader and repelled by the abuse showered on moderates from taking their side; but he greatly dislikes the boycott of the Councils and would probably support a peace move. 'Though rather small for such colossal boots, the role of a Botha is to him attractive.' Jinnah demands (1) that all officers in the Punjab connected with crawling and humiliation orders should no longer be in the Government's employ; (2) an unqualified statement that 'Indians were right and we were wrong'; (3) an assurance that anyone guilty of humiliation orders in future will be dismissed without pension; and (4) that, although the Martial Law Manual should not be published, it should be inspected by six non-official Indians with a view to their stating publicly that it ought to render the recurrence of Amritsar impossible. With regard to these demands Montagu observes that (1) although no such officers are still in Government employ, there may be some Indians; (2) this has, in effect, been said often; (3) he has already suggested that Reading should take some opportunity to say this; and (4) this is good idea and worth Reading's consideration. Jinnah expressed satisfaction with the progress of constitutional reforms, which he believes is now unstoppable, and proposed that 'we' [the British Government] should promise to replace the dyarchy in the provinces by complete responsible government and give responsible government in the Central Government in all matters except foreign affairs, defence, and Native States; though he then rather inconsistently suggested the immediate abolition of all the Councils with a view to getting for these reforms a 'three years' run on sounder lines'. Montagu feels gloomy at the demands for a new constitution so soon after the last one, but accepts that the progress of reform is irresistible and its pace unpredictable. Jinnah, like Reading, Rawlinson, and Montagu himself, desires a faster Indianisation of the army; he thinks the few commissions given through Sandhurst unsatisfactory and that Indians must be allowed to defend their country by means of a Territorial Army. Jinnah will be India in September and will meet Reading wherever he wishes. Montagu agrees with Jinnah about the army; as for constitutional reform, he is unwilling to suggest any alteration to the Government of India Act, but will support Reading in any forward movement he suggests. Will telegraph about the Punjab separately.

(Typed, with handwritten alterations. Used for transmission.)

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Refers to A3/1/5. Is ready to see Jinnah at any time. There is nothing special in his demands regarding the Punjab. (1) There are two Indians of minor importance in the employ of the Punjab Government whose dismissal was asked for by the Congress Committee’s report, but it would be impossible to dismiss them without dismissing superior British officers, which is impossible. (2) Regrets have been expressed more than once for mistakes made, and he does not believe there is much in this point now. (3) Has stated publicly that humiliation on a racial basis cannot and must not happen, has affirmed the principle of racial equality, and has stated that he is considering what amendment of the law is necessary. (4) At a recent meeting of the Executive Council regarding the Committee on Repressive Legislation they discussed the disclosure of the Martial Law Manual to the members of the Committee. The general view opposed disclosure but left the matter to the discretion of Dr Sapru and Sir W[illiam] Vincent, if and when a demand was made. None has yet been made, and the Committee is nearing its conclusion. It is doubtful whether disclosure would allay discontent. A rumour that Reading intends to dissolve the Councils towards the end of the year and to announce a considerable advance in reforms has led to anxiety among moderates, and they are issuing a communiqué to deny it. Agrees that no-one can predict the pace at which reforms should occur, and will probably discuss the point at the next session of the Legislative Assembly, but points out that the reforms are only a few months old and have not been tested. Agrees with Montagu regarding Jinnah’s suggestions about the army. Will not express any views regarding reforms of Councils at present. Praises their work so far. Thinks it natural that they should talk of further powers, as they have to meet the propaganda of non-co-operationists who claim they have none at present. The results of the Press Act Committee and the Repressive Legislation Committee show that the Assembly has been able to obtain relief which the non-co-operationists could not secure.

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