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the Spirit of Mahatma Gandhi lives through every nonviolent action

Prof. Dr. Yogendra Yadav

Senior Gandhian Scholar

Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India

Contact No. – 09404955338, 09415777229

E-mail- dr.yadav.yogendra@gandhifoundation.net;

dr.yogendragandhi@gmail.com

Mailing Address- C- 29, Swaraj Nagar, Panki, Kanpur- 208020, Uttar Pradesh, India

 

Alwar and Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

Alwar is a district of Rajasthan. Mahatma Gandhi attached with Alwar. Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I have written something quite differently about Alwar this time. I am afraid it will take a little time to decide about my going there. I think it will be possible to go only in the beginning of August. I intend to pass the last week of July in the Ashram and then start the tour. I am sure you will come on the 16th. I hope you received the wires I sent there to you and to Sabarmati.” 1 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “The reader knows now why I have been silent about Alwar. I have no data to go upon. Alwar can laugh with as much disdain as the Nizam at anything I may say or write. If all the reports that are published are true, they are proof of Dyerism double distilled. But I know that I have for the moment no remedy. I watch with admiration the effort to the Press to secure at least a decent public inquiry into the awful allegations. I note the silent movement of Panditji’s diplomacy cutting its gentle way. Why need I bother then? Let those who appeal to me for prescriptions know that I am not an infallible Kaviraj with an inexhaustible pharmacopoeia. I am a humble, groping specialist with hardly two indistinguishable drugs in my little pocket. The specialist pleads present incapacity to deal with the evils complained of.” 2

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “What has been known as “Alwar atrocities” came before the Congress Working Committee that met in Calcutta, in the form of a motion by Sjt. Jamnalal Bajaj for the appointment of a committee of inquiry. Now it has been long a tradition of the Congress not to interfere in the internal affairs of Indian States. The members of the Committee felt that it was a healthy tradition which it would be unwise to break. Sjt. Jamnalalji then did not press his motion. I told him, however, that I should discuss the question in these pages and give my reasons for my personal opinion that the Congress should not interfere in the internal administration of the Indian States. This may, if one chooses to put it so, be regarded as a virtue of necessity or a matter of policy; It is both and perhaps a little more. It must be frankly admitted that the Congress possesses no authority for enforcing its will in Indian States even to the extent it does in British India proper. Prudence, therefore, dictates inaction where action would be waste of effort, if not folly. But if inaction is prudential, it is also benevolent. The Congress seeks not to embarrass the States, it desires to help them. It does not wish to destroy them, it wishes to reform them. And this the Congress for the moment does by abstention as an earnest of its goodwill. But abstention by the Congress does not mean absence of effort on the part of Congressmen. Those who have any relation with the States will no doubt use their influence. The local committees can help and guide the distressed people so long as they do not come in clash with authority. Nor does the Congress regulate or control the action of individual Congressmen. But when they take action, they do so not as Congressmen. The position of the Congress must not be compromised. May the subjects of Indian States then expect no relief from the Congress which claims to be a national institution? I fear the answer must be party in the negative. They may not expect any direct assistance. But indirect assistance they do get. For, to the measure that the Congress becomes powerful and efficient, to that measure also is levelled up the condition of the subjects of the Indian States. The moral pressure of the Congress must be felt all over the land either directly or indirectly. I hope, therefore, the afflicted people will realize that, if the Congress does not offer any direct help, it is not for want of will, but it is entirely due to wanted of ability and opportunity.” 3

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “What I wrote about Panditji was based on what I had read in the newspapers. The correspondent has hastily formed a wrong opinion. Panditji did not get permission to go and investigate in Alwar. The officials of the Alwar Ruler have acted much like General Dyer and the Ruler, by preventing a public inquiry, has acted in an autocratic manner and has taken the shine out of his crown. Panditji is not such a coward as to forgo the opportunity for investigating if it is given to him. No one should imagine even in his dreams that Panditji would sell his soul for the sake of money.” 4 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “This session of the States People’s Conference expresses its distress over the inhuman atrocities at Nimuchana in the state of Alwar and the intransigence of the State Government in refusing to hold an open and impartial inquiry into the causes and consequences of the barbaric atrocities and irregularities committed by the police and officers of the State. This Conference conveys its heart-felt sympathy to the many bereaved families, injured individuals and displaced persons whose houses and properties have been destroyed in the name of law and order. The Conference also wishes to be in a position to render some effective help to the people at Nimuchana in this misfortune.” 5 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “This conversation took nearly an hour. In the end, five men forcibly put Sethji in a car and took him away. In this process of using force, Sethji was injured on his left cheek below the eye. He was taken to Alwar State. Sethji here said, “You cannot act like this. You are not at liberty to deposit me in another State. If you do so I will run a case against you.” On this Mr. Young brought Sethji back again into Jaipur State. But we do not know his present whereabouts.” 6

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I do not know whether I am now in order in still carrying my complaints to you. But until you tell me to stop, I propose to send them as before. This is in continuation of my letter of 22nd October, 1940, regarding the alleged war extortions in Alwar. Here is another wire, dated 28th October, 1940: Sepoys beat me unconsciousness. Kept in sun realize war fund Rs. 22 forcibly under Najim order. Pray intervene, Chhajjuram, Baldeogarh, Nizamat Thanaghazi, and Alwar State. I understand that there the Minister and his Secretary are British, lent by the Political Department. The whole administration is said to be under the Political Department. If so, the argument I have advanced in my said letter of 22nd October, 1940, applies with double force. I have a letter telling me that force has been used in several cases for exacting contributions.” 7 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “They want me to send you to Alwar on 1st October. I have sent a flat refusal. If you were well I would certainly have sent you, but there is no knowing when you will be quite fit when you return it might be well to bring someone with you.” 8 Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “I visited the camp of the Meos near the Humayun’s Tomb. I was told that they had been turned out from the States of Alwar and Bharatpur. They said they had nothing to eat except what the Muslim friends had sent to them. I know that the Meos are an easily excitable community and can create a lot of trouble. But the remedy does not lie in driving them out to Pakistan against their wishes. The real remedy lies in treating them as human beings and their weaknesses should be treated as any other illness.” 9 

Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Today I had to go to Gurgaon to see the Meos. The Meos there consists of refugees from Alwar and Bharatpur, besides those who are natives of the place. The East Punjab Premier Dr. Gopichand Bhargava accompanied me. He told the Meos that those of them who wanted to stay could stay on. The Government would protect them. That hundreds of thousands had to leave their houses and properties in Pakistan was something barbarous. It was also a barbarous thing that people had to leave their houses and properties here. One cannot go into who committed more barbarities because such a discussion cannot end the enmity that has been generated. It should not be our fate to be eternal enemies of each other. It will only end in our ruin. I have said that I cannot tolerate this. Those who have made up their minds to go will certainly go but no one will be forced to go. There are men and women there in large numbers. All of them are in distress. Many of them have not even tents to shelter them and the days are so cold. It is a tragic sight. The Alwar State should admit its mistake and invite them back. The Bharatpur State should do the same. One cannot say that Meos is a criminal tribe. Who can say who is criminal and who is not? And will you exile those who are criminals? Will you kill them? This will never do. You have to reform them and educate them and show them the ways of civilized behaviour.” 10

 

References:

 

  1. 1.      LETTER TO JAMNALAL BAJAJ June 29, 1925
  2. 2.      Young India, 2-7-1925
  3. 3.      Young India, 23-7-1925  
  4. 4.        Navajivan, 23-8-1925
  5. 5.      Gandhiji aur Rajasthan, pp. 55-6
  6. 6.      The Hindustan Times, 9-2-1939
  7. 7.        LETTER TO LORD LINLITHGOW, November 4, 1940
  8. 8.      LETTER TO AMRIT KAUR, September 10, 1941
  9. 9.        Prarthana Pravachan—I, pp. 294
  10. 10.  SPEECH AT PRAYER MEETING, December 19, 1947

 

 

 

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