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Telegraphic correspondence with Lord Chelmsford, and related papers

The documents listed under this head mainly relate to 'private' or 'private and personal' telegrams sent by Montagu as Secretary of State for India to the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford. The distinction between these terms, if there is one, is uncertain, but there is a clear distinction between communications of these kinds on the one hand and correspondence designated 'official' on the other. However, since a topic initially raised in official correspondence might subsequently form the subject of a series of private telegrams, copies of some official telegrams will also be found here. Official communications are explicitly identified in the list. It is possible that there were other categories of correspondence, since the term 'demi-official' also occurs. Correspondents occasionally discussed what category was appropriate for the subject under discussion (cf. A2/22/14, A2/23/3).

These papers were formerly either loose or fixed together with treasury tags to form small files. In the latter case the subject-matter of the file, or some other title, was sometimes marked on the top sheet.

The documents comprise (i) drafts and texts of the telegrams themselves; (ii) memoranda exchanged between Montagu and other officials on the composition of telegrams; and (iii) documents consulted as part of this process, such as newspaper cuttings and copies of regulations.

The correspondence begins at the time of the riots in Delhi, Bombay, and the Punjab, the day before the Amritsar massacre, and mostly concerns those disturbances and the controversial measures taken to counter them. The topics discussed include the progress of efforts to restore law and order; Gandhi; the involvement of Muslims in the disorders, and the Hindu-Mohammedan entente; the use of flogging as a punishment under martial law; the 'crawling order' issued by General Dyer at Amritsar, and the 'salaaming order' issued by Colonel Hodgson in Gujrunwala and Lyallpur; the postponement of sentences of execution against persons convicted of involvement in the Amritsar riots; the issue of notices by the Bombay High Court to barristers for taking the satyagraha vow; the question of arranging an inquiry into the disorders, and the subsequent formation and report of the Hunter Committee; and the Indemnity Bill.

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