Item 5 - Telegram from Edwin Montagu to Lord Reading

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MONT II/A/3/1/5


Telegram from Edwin Montagu to Lord Reading


  • 29 July 1921 (Creation)

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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of humiliation orders in future will be dismissed without pension; and (4) that, although the Martial Law Manual should not be published, it should be inspected by six non-official Indians with a view to their stating publicly that it ought to render the recurrence of Amritsar impossible.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.)

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