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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

Has instructed the Home Department to send Montagu a daily summary of events. With regard to martial law in parts of the Punjab, open rebellion in two districts made it imperative that he should give powers to deal drastically with the situation; but he has modified the 1804 regulation so as to preclude the possibility of sentences being passed by young and inexperienced military officers. The situation is grave but not critical; their military arrangements are ‘admirable’ and they are determined to restore law and order. Gandhi appears to have been greatly shocked by events at Ahmedabad, and has expressed to the Commissioner of the Division his determination to obey Government orders. Rioters at Ahmedabad and Amritsar have suffered heavily. In the Punjab looters played a prominent part. Will today issue a resolution of the Government of India, with the assent of Sankaran Nair, stating their determination to restore law and order, and use the powers vested in them, however drastic, to do so.

(Carbon copy.)

Copy of a telegram from Sir George Lloyd to Edwin Montagu

On 8 April Horniman published a passive resistance manifesto in the [Bombay] Chronicle. Gandhi was arrested in the Punjab, taken to Bombay, and ordered to remain in that Presidency. A serious riot at Ahmedabad resulted on the same day. On the 11th a large mob attacked and burnt the telegraph office and several other Government buildings, and injured the power house. On the 12th the Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner arrived with a military force, order was restored, and the city remains strongly picketed. Telegraphic communication has been restored. The casualties so far reported at Ahmedabad are one European sergeant and an Indian constable killed, and about 250 rioters killed or wounded. On the 12th a mob at Virangam attacked and burnt the railway station, and are reported also to have burnt Government buildings and stocks of famine grass. An Indian revenue official was murdered and telegraph communication was severed. On the same day two British officers and 200 Indian troops were dispatched from Ahmedabad to restore order. A telegraph and railway party also left to reopen communications. Order has now been restored at Virangam. On the 11th there was rioting at Bombay, but no casualties occurred. The city is now quiet. Gandhi arrived on the 11th and addressed a meeting, making an appeal against violence. He was allowed to go to Ahmedabad the next day. Military forces have been sent to various places in Gujarat where disturbances may be expected. Anticipating that Gandhi’s arrest would lead to disturbance, Lloyd decided to make no prominent arrests till military precautions had been taken in areas where disorder might arise. But immediately he heard of Gandhi’s arrest he made dispositions for maintaining order in Bombay and arranged a meeting with the Viceroy. On his way up, news of Ahmedabad came, and he and the Viceroy decided to leave Gandhi at liberty for the present but to deport Horniman and certain other leaders. Arrangements are being made to do so, but he is having trouble with Sir Ibrahim on this point, and may have to defer action for two or three days, as he does not want to risk the resignation of a Moslem member of the Council. Though he has been very patient, he cannot allow the open advocacy of law-breaking to continue. Opposition to the Rowlatt Bills is a pretext for a carefully planned revolution, of which Gandhi is a tool, not a principal. Mob violence has so far been directed against telegraphs and railways, and the attacks on Virangam show design, in as much as the seizure of that place cuts off all communications with Kathiawar.

(Carbon copy.)

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.)

Telegram from Lord Chelmsford to Edwin Montagu

Continues A2/1/8. O'Dwyer has declined for the present an offer of extra staff, and reports the Punjab situation better. In reply to specifice inquiries, O'Dwyer reports that (a) in rural areas disorderly elements are looting trains and damaging Government property; (b) there is no evidence yet that demobilised soldiers are prominent, though some may have joined disorderly bands; (c) attempts have been made to seduce Indian troops, but so far their attitude is staunch, and they are being used everywhere. Annie Besant was at Simla yesterday, and is reported to have stated in an interview with the Press Association that there is nothing in the Rowlatt Act to which a good citizen could object; she had opposed passive resistance because she believed it would lead to disregard of law and consequently to rioting and bloodshed; she condemned Gandhi; and she admitted the existence of revolutionary movements in some places, and considered it the duty of all leaders to help Government in the task of putting down violence. At Calcutta, moderates have issued a manifesto condemning the passive resistance movement. Roos-Keppel [Chief Commissioner of the North-West Frontier Province] reports organised attempts in Peshawar to work up Rowlatt agitation and Mohammedan feeling. Large demonstrations have been held there, but there has been no breach of peace. Refers to A2/3/4 [a telegram received by him from Montagu, but intended in fact for Sir George Lloyd] and states that they regard deportation at present from a broadly preventative standpoint, but admits that deportation of an individual can lead to serious temporary local outbreaks.

(Typed. Marked 'B'.)

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

When he sent A2/11/14 the atmosphere was highly charged, racial feeling was acute, and misgivings and misunderstandings relating to the Rowlatt Bills and the reform policy rife. He then foresaw a time when it might be necessary (a) to summon a representative gathering of Indian leaders and explain in detail the application of the Rowlatt Bills, thereby giving them a means of dissociating themselves from Gandhi’s agitation; (b) to make a reassuring announcement about the reforms and the declaration of his intention to adhere to his course in spite of events; and (c) to promise an inquiry into the outbreaks. However, it was necessary to maintain martial law longer than he anticipated, and intervening events changed his view of what was necessary and expedient; he was also anxious to avoid any suggestion that he disagreed with his Government or the policy pursued by local governments. Meanwhile the course of events has been in their favour: the Gandhi agitation fell into disrepute, and the Rowlatt legislation passed into the background; the Afghan aggression roused the people to a sense of practical realities and the Government’s responsibility for the defence of India; and racial feeling improved. Then came Montagu’s ‘admirable’ speech on the Indian situation, the publication of the Bill, and his assurances regarding India’s political future. Chelmsford’s aims have therefore been automatically attained. The difficult question of an inquiry has been considered in Council, and Montagu will receive their telegram shortly.

(Typed.)

Telegrams from Edwin Montagu to (i) Lord Chelmsford and (ii) Sir George Lloyd

(i) The conduct and discipline of the Bar should, he agrees, be regulated by the High Court, but its attitude [to satyagraha] is likely to hinder the amelioration of conditions in India. Chelmsford assured him some time ago that the Punjab did not treat satyagraha in itself as a crime, and to act against it now it has been abandoned and the ‘magnificent political wisdom’ of Lloyd has avoided the necessity of proceeding against its originator [Gandhi], and to deprive five advocates of their livelihood, is extremely foolish.

(ii) As (i), with minor variations.

(Typed, with handwritten alterations.)

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

Refers to Montagu's telegram of 6 June regarding the Prince of Wales's visit. The non-co-operation agitation is now less active. The recantation of the Ali brothers has, he thinks, had a damping effect on the Khilafat supporters and the Gandhi movement, notwithstanding Mohammed Ali's explanation of his apology. Sapru, Shafi, and Malaviya also think the situation improved. Gandhi is not succeeding in obtaining support and money. Butler is dissatisfied with the position in the United Provinces, and wishes to proceed with prosecutions against the Independent and others; the Government of India will decide on their policy on Friday. Is concerned at the number of youths in gaol for lesser offences, and favours releasing them upon expressions of regret and promises of future good behaviour. So long as Gandhi pursues his present policy of less virulence and refrains from preaching active hatred of the Government, no action should be taken by the Government; but prosecutions should be instituted wherever speeches are made inciting to violence, or whenever the agents of the non-co-operationist movement lie about Government action or preach hatred of it. It is not always easy to distinguish between speeches denouncing Government policy and thus exciting disaffection against it, and speeches containing serious mis-statements, accompanied by incitement to hatred, but he recommends prosecution only in the latter case at present.

(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.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

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.)

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 S. R. Hignell to S. K. Brown

Sends in full the ‘agreed statement’ as given to the press: Lord Reading has been advised that his conversations with Gandhi about the Ali brothers have been inaccurately reported in the press, and he has therefore authorised the publication of an agreed statement on the following lines. The interviews resulted from conversations between Reading and Malaviya in which the latter was advised of the Government’s decision to begin criminal proceedings against the Ali brothers for making speeches inciting to violence. Malaviya and Andrews suggested that Reading should speak with Gandhi. The proposed interview was intended to have reference to the general situation, but it is acknowledged that in inviting Gandhi to Simla Malaviya made no reference to the intended proceedings against the Ali brothers. In due course Gandhi came to Simla and an interview was arranged. At the first interview no mention was made of the proposed prosecutions. At the next, Reading expressed the belief that responsible non-co-operators had made speeches inciting to violence, and Gandhi replied that, if he was satisfied that such were the case, he would publicly repudiate them and their teachings unless they withdrew their statements. Reading read to Gandhi passages in speeches by the Ali brothers that he believed were calculated to incite to violence, and Gandhi acknowledged that they were capable of bearing that interpretation; but he asserted that he did not believe that the Ali brothers had intended to incite their audience to violence, and said that he would advise them to express public regret for the unintentional incitement in these passages. Reading asked to see a draft of this statement, and at this point he mentioned the intended prosecutions, stating that, if he was satisfied with the statement, he would try to prevent the prosecutions being carried out. Gandhi, in due course, showed the statement to Reading, who pointed out that certain passages, particularly the reference to the Ali brothers’ religious creed, gave it the appearance of a manifesto, and that it did not contain a promise to refrain from speeches inciting to violence. Reading pointed out that, after publication of the statement, the Ali brothers could give any explanation by means of speeches, provided they did not infringe the law. Gandhi agreed to make the requested alterations. Reading advised him that, if the Ali brothers signed the amended statement, the proceedings would be suspended, reserving the right to take them up again if the promises in the statement were not observed, and noted that it would be necessary to issue a communiqué explaining the Government’s position. Reading advised Gandhi that he might not be able to prevent the commencement of proceedings if the statement was not published quickly, and Gandhi agreed that this would be done. Some days later, Gandhi telegraphed that the Ali brothers had signed the [revised] statement with an immaterial alteration. The Government then issued an official communiqué, the terms of which were not settled till just before its issue, though its substance had been communicated to Gandhi. The main part of the interviews between Reading and Gandhi concerned the various causes of discontent in India, including the disturbances in the Punjab, the Khilafat agitation, and the Treaty of Sèvres. Gandhi did not submit any scheme of swaraj, nor was any such scheme discussed.

(Typed. Formally issued in the name of the Viceroy.)

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.)

Telegram from Edwin Montagu to Lord Reading

He thinks Reading should know the attitude at home towards affairs in India. The general opinion of the press is that action should be taken against ringleaders. There is perplexity at the fact that action is only taken against those actually dealt with in riots, and great uneasiness at reports of drilling. Recent speeches of Lord Willingdon and Sir George Lloyd suggest a difference of opinion between the former and the Government of India as to Gandhi’s connection with the spreading unrest, for the public believes that if the Government shared Willingdon’s views some action would have been taken.

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

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

With regard to action against ringleaders, the Ali brothers and Kitchlew have been arrest-ed. The drilling on the part of Moplahs was not extensive. He cannot see anything in the speeches of Willingdon and Lloyd to suggest a difference of opinion between them and his Government regarding either policy or the connection between Gandhi and unrest.

(Typed.)

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Refers to Gandhi’s speech at Trichinopoly and his article in Young India, in which he stated that, as non-co-operation is legally sedition under the Penal Code, he objected to the suggestion in Sir George Lloyd’s communiqué that tampering with the loyalty of the sepoy and sedition were fresh crimes committed by the Ali brothers, and went on to encourage Congress and Khilafat workers to reiterate the Ali brothers’ formula and to spread disaffection openly till arrested. They [the Government of India] cannot arrest ‘small fry’ and leave Gandhi free; therefore the speech and article are being examined by lawyers, and Reading has canvassed Local Governments for their opinions as to the effect of prosecuting him. His own impression is that, though Gandhi has recently lost some ground, he remains popular with the masses, and that his arrest would lead to violence. Points out that Gandhi’s article is intended to bridge the gap between Hindu and Moslem.

(Typed.)

Telegram from Edwin Montagu to Lord Reading

Refers to A3/8/1. He had feared that Gandhi would force Reading’s hand, and agrees that he must be arrested. Other arrests will probably be necessary, and Gandhi is likely to make good the claim that it was his influence alone which was safeguarding the country from violence. Asks what plans have been made to cope with the efforts that will be made to secure his release, and what bearing he thinks such considerations will have on the Prince of Wales’s visit.

(Typed, with handwritten alterations. 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

Refers to A3/8/3. Council has considered Gandhi’s pronouncements, but will not make a decision till they have received legal advice and further information about a manifesto issued by Gandhi in which he asserts the right of Indians to advise civilians and soldiers to leave Government employment. It is not easy to see how the prosecution of Gandhi can be avoided, and other arrests will necessarily follow. With regard to the Prince’s visit, he believes that Gandhi’s arrest will increase the risk of disturbances, despite Gandhi’s pronouncement exhorting the people to refrain from violence and not to indulge in hartals; but he does not recommend cancelling the visit, as this would create a misleading impression of disloyalty in India. Malaviya is distressed at Gandhi’s attitude, and wishes to help.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Quotes passages from an article by Gandhi in 'Young India' urging Indians not to serve the Government, and refers to a letter by him in the 'Bombay Chronicle' stating that, if the rumours of his imminent arrest were true, it would confirm that the Government was waging war not against violence but against the principle of non-co-operation. The question of prosecuting Gandhi will be considered in Council on the 10th.

(Mechanical copy of typed original.)

Copy of a telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Council have postponed their decision about prosecuting Gandhi till they have received the views of the Bombay Government and reports on the effect of Gandhi’s propaganda on the army. These inquiries will take two or three weeks.

(Mechanical copy of typed original. A duplicate of A3/24/3.)

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