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Malaviya, Madan Mohan (1861–1946) Indian educationist and politician
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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.

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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

He was cordially welcomed on his state entry to Calcutta yesterday, and he affirmed his confidence in Lord Ronaldshay to a deputation from the municipality. He believes his recent statements about the Graeco-Turkish situation have had a good effect, and that the non-co-operationists are undecided as to what they should do next. He will discuss the arrangements for the Prince of Wales’ arrival at Calcutta with Ronaldshay on the 24th. Malaviya met him at Benares and asked him to mitigate his recent pronouncements regarding intimidation and the determination to enforce the law, but Reading refused, drawing attention to the widespread hartals and the disturbances in Bombay. He hopes, however, that there will not be too much zeal to arrest. He will discuss Bengal finances with Hailey next week, and is considering calling a meeting of all the Provincial Governments to discuss the matter.

(A cutting from a larger document.)

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.

(Typed.)

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

Continues his telegram of the previous day. Long debates on proposals for a conference have taken place in the Legislative Assembly and Council. Motions to condemn the Government’s repressive policy and to settle lines for a round-table conference were defeated, and the Government’s motion to reject the proposals was passed. The results, he believes, show that Gandhi has failed to capture moderate opinion. Reading has expressed firm views as to the demands of the conference to Malaviya and Seshigari Ayyar [Seshagiri Iyer?], and has advised them that a conference is out of the question for the time being. He believes Gandhi will proceed with his campaign of civil disobedience, which is announced to take place after the 31st.

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

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.

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Telegram from Edwin Montagu to Lord Reading

Approves of Reading's actions with regard to Malaviya. Commends the idea of officers' training corps: it is necessary to face the problem of diminishing army expenditure while satisfying the demand of loyal Indians to be able to defend their country. Suggests that the Government might help Gandhi with his reform programme on condition that he drop out of politics. Sastri sends his appreciation for Reading's encouraging message. Harington thought he had received an invitation from Kemal to discuss the position, which he accepted, but Kemal replied impertinently that he did not want to see him. The matter was not well handled. At this morning's session of the Imperial Conference Sastri made his statement and moved his resolution on Indians in the Dominions with 'vigour, clarity and ability'. He was congratulated by Hughes, whose views are coloured by the fact that he loves to see Smuts in difficulties. Lloyd George also expressed approval. The matter has now been relegated to a committee. The difficulty is that 'our view' is impossible for Smuts, for if he accepted it he would be out of office.

(Typed. Used for transmission.)

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Part 2. As a result of the negotiations, Das stated that he was willing to waive the hartal if the proclamations were withdrawn and prisoners released, but Gandhi added the further condition that all fatwa prisoners, including the Ali brothers, should also be released, and as Reading had already refused to discuss this question, this condition prevented further discussion. Reading admits that if Gandhi had responded to Malaviya’s subsequent requests to cease defiance he would have felt compelled in return to agree to discuss the composition and objects of the conference; but the opportunity has now passed. Gandhi’s telegrams, he believes, merely showed a desire to gain party advantage out of a situation which is embarrassing to the Government. He did also send a verbal message stating that he would attend a conference if invited, but as he refuses to make this statement public Reading regards it is useless, though he acknowledges Gandhi’s party difficulties.

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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.)

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.

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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.)

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.

Telegram from Lord Reading to Edwin Montagu

Part 2. He hopes that the arrival of Malaviya, whom he is about to meet, may assist a solution of the crisis. Sapru will arrive on the 21st, with Jamnadas Dwarkadas, Mrs Besant, etc., to try to arrange a conference. Sapru continues to act loyally. Dwarkadas has gone to Bombay, apparently to see whether Gandhi would be willing to join in a conference. He believes Gandhi’s presence at a conference essential, and will invite him if necessary. There has been practically no violent disorder yet. His main object at present is to enable the Prince’s visit to take place without demonstrations, etc., during his stay at Calcutta. The hartal will only be a problem if it affects transport. The Prince has written to point out that his visits to universities have been attended by humiliatingly small numbers of students; his degree will therefore be conferred upon him at Government House instead of Calcutta University. Reading has cancelled his at-tendance at a Bar dinner in his honour, as a number of vakils and pleaders were proposing to boycott it; but a recent garden party at Belvedere was well attended.

(Typed. Continued from A3/14/5.)

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.