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Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand (1869–1948), Indian political leader and religious and social reformer
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Copy of a telegram from Lord Chelmsford to Edwin Montagu

Continues his telegram of the 15th [A2/1/7]. Has sent a communication to Lloyd, based on Montagu's suggestion [in A2/1/6]. Lloyd has replied that action against Horniman cannot be delayed, and he will probably be deported today or on Friday. Lloyd prefers deportation to trial, since there are signs that students and others are attempting to tamper with the military and the police, and thinks it best, if there is to be trouble, to have it now; he adds that the situation is so complex to diagnose that it is impossible to be certain of the better course of action, but that they have decided to deal with Horniman first, leaving the others till they see the general mood. Chelmsford has advised in reply that he also prefers deportation. Lloyd, who will address a meeting of leading citizens tomorrow, advises that Gandhi seems 'genuinely perturbed' by recent events, but although his statement may allay the feeling somewhat, Gandhi 'intends to pursue the methods whose results he so easily deplores', and that his actions will not affect the revolutionists, of whom he is merely a tool. Gait [Lieutenant-Governor of Bihar and Orissa] is concerned by the situation in his province, where Hasan Iman has taken the satyagraha vow. Calcutta seems to have settled down. The security of Amrita Bazar Patrika has been forfeited owing to inflammatory articles. Delhi is in a state of nervous tension, and shops are still unopened. In the Punjab, the action by the military at Amritsar appears to have had a good local effect, but the effect on the rural population is still unknown. Sporadic outbreaks of different intensity have occurred across the Punjab, and martial law has been extended to the Gujrunwala district. The Seditious Meetings Act has been brought into operation in the districts of Multan and Jullundur. [The Maharaja of] Patiala sent his Imperial Service Troops to help the patrol line in Bhatinda. Chelmsford is writing to the chiefs in the vicinity of the disturbed areas to urge them to co-operate.

(Carbon copy.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Chelmsford to Edwin Montagu

With the previous approval of the Government of India, the Bombay Government have ordered that Horniman, editor of the Bombay Chronicle, should leave British India and proceed to England. He was placed on board the S. S. Takada, which sailed from Bombay on the 27th. This action was taken in view of the inflammatory propaganda being conducted by him, which was likely to cause a recrudescence of recent trouble and to foment discontent among the troops, to whom his paper was distributed freely. All is quiet in Bombay. Gandhi has issued a manifesto enjoining moderation.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Copy of a memorandum from Edwin Montagu to Sir Thomas Holderness and Sir Malcolm Seton

Is anxious that the Viceroy should not inaugurate an inquiry into the recent occurrences in India (which Montagu has assured the House the Viceroy always intended) without further consultation at home, since he believes the Viceroy is unaware of the general desire that the inquiry should be impartial and fearless, and should examine questions such as the use of dum-dum bullets, the needless firing on the crowd, the deportation of innocent people, the unnecessarily harsh use of military law, the mishandling of Gandhi’s prohibition as regards Delhi, the immediate causes of the outbreaks at Lahore, Amritsar, and Ahmedabad, and the actual results of recruiting on temper and economics in the Punjab. Is prepared to let the Viceroy to decide the time, provided there is no postponement, but wishes to be satisfied as to the terms of reference and personnel. The inquiry should, he thinks, be conducted by one man ‘from home’, with an Indian and an official assessor, and he has written to the Viceroy proposing Lord Cave for the appointment. Asks them to draft an official telegram asking that he may be consulted on these matters.

(Carbon copy.)

Telegram from Lord Chelmsford to Edwin Montagu

The High Court has plenary powers under letters patent, and no executive Government can interfere. But the action of the Court has created no excitement, and Chelmsford does not believe it unwise. Even if the Court finds the pleaders guilty, it will probably merely issue a warning. It is unsafe to regard satyagraha is a thing of the past, as Gandhi threatens to revive it.

(Typed.)

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Malaviya has agreed to become a member of the committee appointed in connection with the Prince of Wales’s visit. Gwalior and Bikaner will also attend the meetings, though not as members, as will Shafi and Sapru. The inclusion of Malaviya is bold but wise, for though he is not quite a non-co-operator, he is in sympathy with Gandhi regarding social reform and carries weight with ‘thoughtful’ Indians; he seems increasingly inclined to advocate constitutional means for enforcing swaraj, and may eventually have a moderating influence on Gandhi's chief supporters and perhaps Gandhi himself. Malaviya is presently giving evidence before Rawlinson's Army Committee; he favours the formation of officer training corps at the univer-sities (a proposal which Reading thinks could be effected) and wants the Prince's visit to be identified with their formation. It is important that Malaviya should be associated with the Government in preparing a welcome to the Prince. Gandhi's social reform programme is meeting with success; he has just collected over a crore of rupees as a result of an appeal, though some of the money may not be paid. Many of the subscriptions are earmarked for particular reforms. These subscriptions are a tribute to Gandhi's moral and religious elevation. Many of them are not strictly political, but they produce an effect on the public mind. Gandhi is more criticised politically than before. It is unclear what his attitude will be to the Prince's visit. Refers to Montagu's telegram of 5 July: does not think the situation altered by subscription.

(Typed.)

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

According to a bulletin issued by the Indian News Agency, the principal feature of the All-India Congress Committee meeting at Bombay is the personal ascendancy of Gandhi, who has threatened to sever all connections with the movement if his demands are not met. Malaviya opposed a boycott of the Prince of Wales’s visit, and it appears that the boycott will be confined to abstention from official rejoicings and that no hartals will be observed. Gandhi’s concentration on the boycott of foreign cloth has led to much discussion.

(Typed.)

Telegram from Edwin Montagu to Lord Reading

Is going on holiday. Kenya continues to be troublesome. Is eager to discuss the proposed statement of policy at the opening of the Legislative Assembly. The decision whether to prosecute those who spoke at the Karachi conference should be made promptly. The Government’s decision to substitute a treaty with King Feisul of Mesopotamia for a mandate may improve relations with Mohammedans. It is rumoured that Gandhi intends to proclaim an Indian republic. Some, including Churchill, are optimistic about Irish peace; others, including the Prime Minister, are not.

(Typed. Used for transmission.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Has met with Malaviya, who thinks the visit of the Prince of Wales should not be cancelled, and proposes that the Government of India should call a conference of Gandhi and his representatives, along with supporters of constitutional agitation, moderates, and Government members, to address the problems connected with the Punjab, the Khilafat, and the question of giving some measure of responsibility to India; he said that a constitutional party was being formed, of which he is a member, and that he will probably enter the Assembly next year; he believes that it will take twenty years before India can get complete dominion status, as she will have to organise her own defence force and higher command, and observed that his own views as to the composition of the Executive Council had been adopted by the party; and he urged again that an Indian, preferably Sir [M.] Visvesvarya, should be appointed Minister of Commerce and Industry. Reading pointed out to him that it was too late to consider the conference, as a decision must be made about the Prince’s visit. Malaviya’s main plea was that Government should forestall constitutional agitation by a magnanimous action to be announced on 1 November; he did not believe Government should be bound by the decisions of the conference, and thought that Gandhi would probably attend. Reading had already been considering the possibility of a conference, but difficulties would be presented by the likely demand for more responsibility. Discusses the revision of the Punjab martial law cases. Is going to Kashmir. His mind is hardening against the arrest of Gandhi.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Has told Malaviya that, by refusing to suspend controversy during the Prince of Wales’s visit, Gandhi had given the impression that India was disloyal; and he repudiated the rumour that if the Prince was well received the Government would claim that India had no real grievances. Malaviya suggested that Gandhi might yet relent if the obstacle of the Ali brothers could be negotiated, but Reading refused to discuss their case, which is now in the hands of the courts. The Statesman, The Englishman, and the Times of India are opposed to the arrest of Gandhi.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Telegram from Edwin Montagu to Lord Reading

Refers to Reading’s communications regarding Gandhi and the Prince of Wales’s visit. The Cabinet’s opinion is that Gandhi’s arrest and trial are inevitable and preferable to deportation, and that action should be taken promptly. Suggests that Gandhi might be deported after conviction, perhaps to Ceylon. The Cabinet believes that the Prince of Wales’s visit should proceed as planned unless the effect of Gandhi’s arrest leads Reading to ask for a postponement at the last minute. Montagu opposes the conference proposed by Malaviya, thinking that it would be disloyal to those elected members of the legislatures who have determined to make the most of the Government of India Act to discuss political questions with those with no representative position, and that as Gandhi has declared that he wishes to make Government impossible, he does not see how Reading can confer with him about improving the Act. A conference with the legislatures or their representatives would be another matter. Emphasises that it would be difficult to persuade Parliament to alter the Act without evidence of a defect in it or some alteration in the political situation.

(Typed, with handwritten alterations. Used for transmission. The message was sent in three portions, over two days.)

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Refers to A3/9/2. Nothing is reported as having happened as the result of the meetings at which the formula of the Ali brothers has been repeated, and he has not yet received the opinion of the Bombay Government’s legal advisers, nor the Government of India’s views on the expected effect of Gandhi’s arrest. The Government will lose no time [in taking action], but there are unavoidable delays in obtaining evidence. He infers that when Montagu sent his telegram he had not yet received his own of the 11th [A3/8/9]. His view is stiffening against the arrest of Gandhi, in the hope that his ‘bombshell’ may become a ‘squib’. Is examining the po-lice precautions in connection with the Prince of Wales’s visit. Agrees, for the most part, with Montagu’s objections to the suggested conference.

(Carbon copy.)

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Continues his message for the Prime Minister, the first part of which was on the subject of railway finance. Thanks him for his support. Will take all necessary precautions for the Prince of Wales’s visit. Refers to A3/11/3, and points out that Gandhi’s action has apparently had little effect. Acknowledges the necessity of taking up his challenge to Government, but hopes he is still free to make his own decision. Draws attention to the necessity of gathering evidence before arrest, the opposition of pro-British newspapers to arrest, and the divisions between the Hindu and Moslem parties.

(Typed. Marked '3'.)

Telegram from Edwin Montagu to Lord Reading

Refers to A3/10/25. (1) The arrest of Gandhi must involve general action against non-co-operation, as it now threatens peace in India. A large number of other prosecutions will probably therefore take place. Asks whether Reading has considered his suggestion of prohibiting meetings for organising or discussing civil disobedience. (2) On the Khilafat question, Montagu expects that part of Thrace will be restored to Turkey for the protection of Constantinople, and that the Turkish Government there will be freed from Allied control; also that Smyrna will be restored. Any action of the British Government is risky, now that Kemal is adopting the attitude of a conqueror. Points out that the retention of Con-stantinople, etc., were modifications to the treaty made in consideration of the wishes of Indi-ans, and believes that the French are more concerned with their popularity with Mohammedans than with improving conditions in Turkey. He does not see why Reading should not state publicly what he is urging upon the British Government, what he has achieved by his repre-sentations, and that he is continuing to urge the questions of Thrace, Smyrna, Constantinople, no obstacle to any arrangements about Holy Places, etc. (3) Reading is in a position to state that his representations have achieved much, because Montagu has voiced them ‘vigour and argument’, and that the British Government will continue to consider them favourably; he therefore has a right to demand the support of Mohammedans. (4) The British Government is not presently in favour of restoring the whole of Thrace to Turkey, but since no power has hitherto proposed this, it has never had occasion to oppose it, and it is untrue to say that it ever prevented the allies from restoring Smyrna. (5) The British Government has not given any assistance to the Greeks in their present campaign. (6) Is unsure what a conference would achieve.—[P.S.] Cabinet is presently absorbed with the critical situation in Ireland.

(Typed, with handwritten alterations. Used for transmission (in two parts).)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Part 2. With regard to amending the [Government of India] Act, they are bound by the period mentioned in it, though Parliament might consent to an earlier period if it chose; but though he can conceive proposals for amendments to improve the constitutional machinery and advancing towards Dominion status, he is not prepared to advise this step at present. Malaviya has asked him to receive a deputation on the 21st to request a conference, but he has refused to do so unless the boycott of the Prince of Wales’s visit was called off. He added, however, that if Gandhi and his associates were to make such a gesture he would withdraw the proclamation against volunteers and release certain prisoners, and Ronaldshay is pursuing a similar course. He has made a number of cautious reservations to Malaviya about the holding of a conference.

(Carbon copy. Continued from A3/15/1.)

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Part 1. Malaviya came to see him yesterday. He said that Reading’s answer to the deputation favourably impressed the extremists and non-co-operators, and he brought a document signed by Das and other leading non-co-operators proposing a conference in January (Gandhi and other non-co-operationists to represent the Congress), subject to the withdrawal of proclamations and release of prisoners. The signatories undertook to prevent a hartal on the 24th and to observe a real truce. At the same time, however, Reading received an agency telegram advising of statements by Gandhi which made it impossible to consider the question. Malaviya was much upset. Reading emphasised to him that he would not make arrangements expressly covering hartals, as they would be covered by any arrangement to desist from non-co-operation activities. Montagu has also misunderstood his proposals on this point. The discussion was repeated in the presence of Lord Ronaldshay.

(Typed. Continued in A3/23/3.)

Printed copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Quiet prevails at Bombay. Gandhi has made a press statement in which he does not dispute the seriousness of the violent outbreaks or deny that they constitute a breach of his injunctions to refrain from harm or insult to the Prince, and admits that he finds himself unable to control the spirit of revolt and that the hope of reviving mass civil obedience has once more been dashed. Reading believes that the non-co-operationists have suffered a great defeat and that the majority at Bombay have shown themselves loyal to the Crown. There have been hartals in several big cities and intimidation has been resorted to, particularly in Calcutta. The Government of Bengal has declared the volunteer corps unlawful. Practically all shops were shut in Delhi, but despite the success of hartals he believes that the general public are now anxious for Government to assert its authority. Will discuss the situation in Council tomorrow. Urges Montagu to oppose the institution of autonomous rule at Adrianople under the Greek flag, and asks whether it is impossible that autonomy should be under Turkish suzerainty, though under international control.

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

Extract from a letter from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

His visit to Calcutta was ‘crowded and agitated’, but he thinks the final result was good. It would have been bad tactics to give a definite refusal to the deputation’s proposals for a conference, though he always doubted that Malaviya could get sufficient assurances from Gandhi and the other leaders. But this is no longer a matter of practical politics, as Gandhi has declared a war of civil disobedience. Gandhi appears to have been irritated by what had happened, possibly by the pressure put on him by Malaviya and others and by the fact that the Government had put him in an awkward position. Reading’s answer to the deputation seems to have steadied moderate opinion. Since 17 November there has been a tendency to assert Government authority too much.

Extract from a letter from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

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.

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

(Official.) Continues A3/25/8. The Commissioner, Northern Division, reports that at a meeting at Bardoli [on 29 January], attended by Gandhi and other leaders, a resolution was passed for the non-payment of taxes. This will take effect if approved by an All-India Congress Committee meeting at Surat on 31 January and if no round-table conference is arranged. It is believed that an ultimatum to the Viceroy will be sent on 1 February.

(Typed.)

Copy of a telegram from Edwin Montagu to Lord Reading

(Official.) Has received A3/35/1. The Government is anxious about the situation in India, particularly the reports of outbreaks at Bareilly and Chauri Chaura, and Gandhi’s continued freedom. Gandhi’s letter is the direct challenge for which the Government of India was wait-ing [see A3/27/1], and they must act to protect those who would otherwise become his dupes. Montagu and his Council have concluded that the instructions given by the Viceroy to Local Governments on 24 November do not go far enough; the organisation of civil disobedience must be prevented; and the leaders of the movement, including Gandhi, must be dealt with promptly. It is up to Reading to decide what measures should be taken.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Refers to A3/40/1 and observes that the date of the debate coincides with the arrival of the Prince of Wales at Delhi. The arrest of Gandhi should be announced by Montagu, but he thinks it would be unfair to the Prince to make the arrest less than 48 hours before he arrives at ‘the capital of the Empire’. As the Bombay Government say that the arrest could not be made before Monday, Reading has postponed it till Tuesday, after the Prince’s reception, and he will advise Montagu when the arrest takes place, so that he can announce it in the House. He cannot reply about the military budget, since, if the decision is indeed vested in him, he ought not to make his views known in advance. He thinks more Indians will accept Gandhi’s arrest now than at any previous time: Malaviya, Jinnah, and others have published expres-sions of disgust at Gandhi’s attitude, and the incidents at Gorakhpur and Bareilly have fright-ened people. He is disturbed by the views of the Bombay Government’s legal advisers, who doubt whether the Bardoli Resolutions and Gandhi’s speeches there on civil disobedience amount to an offence, and are therefore prosecuting for his earlier writings, but he is agreeing to this course, as he believes now is the time to arrest him.

(Typed.)

Letter from Sir William Duke to Edwin Montagu

Peel Cottage, Campden Hill Road, Kensington, W.8.—Is pleased the debate went well. Reiterates his views on the postponement of Gandhi’s arrest, and wonders whether this action prompted the decision of The Times to ‘declare war’. He has lain up longer this time in order to ensure a proper recovery, and should soon be able to come to work.

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

(Official.) Continues A3/46/6. Gandhi has left Ahmadabad for Ajmer. As the Ajmer authorities are apprehensive of the results of arresting him there, it is proposed to arrest him at Sabarmati station, Ahmedabad, where he is expected to arrive on the afternoon of the 10th.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Letter from Hasan Shahid Suhrawardy to R. C. Trevelyan

21, Theatre Road, Calcutta. - Is very grateful for the trouble Trevelyan has taken with his MS; agrees that it is unfair that no publishers will take his poems even when costs will be covered. The publication of his book would also have helped his chances of getting the University Professorship of English which will soon fall vacant; prefers this position to his own due to the lack of 'concrete material of the Asiatic arts' which necessitates indulgence in 'fantastic theories'. Cannot afford to have it printed himself, and will not hear of Trevelyan spending more money on him. Used to know a man called Coppard at Oxford, a 'towering intellectual from the working classes', whom he heard has had success as a novelist; he used to like Suhrawardy's verses, especially the ones printed in the 1916 "Oxford Anthology" (Amelie Brázdová must have mistaken this for the "Oxford Book of Verse"; would like to know in English what she has written about him; she makes mistakes as she is not familiar with England and Suhrawardy is 'horrified' that his friends might think he has given her false information). Coppard suggested getting the poems privately printed at the Golden Cockerel Press, with which he had some connection. If Trevelyan could lend him the expenses for a year, he would like to have the poems published there or with the Chelsea Press. Is sorry John Lane have rejected his book; used to know [Ronald?] Boswell, in the management there, at Oxford, and once met him at Trevelyan's friends the Archibalds' [Dorothy and George]. Tells Trevelyan to do what he thinks best, but only if he really thinks it worthwhile to get the work published: he himself is out of touch and cannot judge the merits of his verses properly.

Very glad Trevelyan saw [Marie] Germanova in Paris; they write in detail about each of his visits. Sends love to Bessie. Hopes Julian and Ursula are happy. Strange times in India: he had 'great sympathy with the Congress' and stood as a candidate for the Upper House in Bengal by 'indirect selection'. Due to 'indiscipline and bungling' he lost, for which he is now very glad as the path the Congress is following is 'sterile'. Does not understand the 'Congress formula', nor its tactical value. Calls Gandhi 'the divine bungler'. No chance of escaping the heat and coming to Europe in the summer; hopes he can persuade his father to consult his doctor this autumn, in which case he will come then. If not, he hopes to come next year, for longer. Is taking up the study of Chinese: when getting on in years 'one must have a quest that is endless', and Chinese will last him 'several reincarnations'.

Carbon copy of a letter from L. S. Amery to Sir George Schuster

India Office.—The Viceroy (Linlithgow) does not think this the time for the kind of good-will mission suggested. Explains why he agrees with this view, and points out other methods which might be used to ease the deadlock.

(Carbon copy of a typed transcript.)

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Transcript

COPY

India Office, | Whitehall.
21st. November, 1941.

My dear Schuster,

I have just heard from the Viceroy that he does not think that this is really the time for the kind of good will mission suggested. He does not think it could do any good in the present situation and might even do harm. I am afraid I must agree with his conclusion. I fear that there might be every danger of the leaders of the main parties, short of a Government decision to accord Dominion status now, giving a public rebuff to the visit. As you will remember, your very friendly and helpful open letter last year met with a cool reception and Miss Rathbone’s earnest and sincere appeal only provoked the most violent criticism.

I imagine that both Gandhi and Jinnah might not only ignore the mission, but order their followers to do so.

On top of all this there is the terrific difficulty about securing priority for air passages.

Isn’t the best chance under present conditions of easing the deadlock to give Indians themselves the opportunity of creating credit for any constructive move—assisting them entirely sub-rosa, which might be done to some extent by people like Wint or Hodson or Coupland, and by reading your book {1}, but not by a Parliamentary mission which could not but attract attention, and might very well be suspected of being really a disguised official mission?

I don’t think you should assume that because the major deadlock is unsolved, and likely to be unsolved for some time to come, we are pursuing a purely negative policy. On the contrary, I cannot but hope that in actual working the new Executive and the National Defence Council will begin to exercise a very real influence on the outlook of India, and be increasingly contrasted with the purely negative attitude both of Gandhi and of Jinnah. In all these things one has, after all, to take time into one’s counsels. Incidentally time, in the shape of a German advance in the Caucasus or a Japanese invasion of Burma, may help the process of reflection.

I have telegraphed to Wint saying that we both think he had better go on with his investigations into Pakistan.

Yours sincerely,
(Sgd) L. S. AMERY

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{1} George Schuster and Guy Wint, India and Democracy: A Summary (1941).

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