Freedom's Battle/The Khilafat
Why I have joined the Khilafat Movement
An esteemed South African friend who is at present living in England has written to me a letter from which I make the following excerpts:
"You will doubtless remember having met me in South Africa at the time when the Rev. J.J. Doke was assisting you in your campaign there and I subsequently returned to England deeply impressed with the rightness of your attitude in that country. During the months before war I wrote and lectured and spoke on your behalf in several places which I do not regret. Since returning from military service, however, I have noticed from the papers that you appear to be adopting a more militant attitude... I notice a report in "The Times" that you are assisting and countenancing a union between the Hindus and Moslems with a view of embarrassing England and the Allied Powers in the matter of the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire or the ejection of the Turkish Government from Constantinople. Knowing as I do your sense of justice and your humane instincts I feel that I am entitled, in view of the humble part that I have taken to promote your interests on this side, to ask you whether this latter report is correct. I cannot believe that you have wrongly countenanced a movement to place the cruel and unjust despotism of the Stamboul Government above the interests of humanity, for if any country has crippled these interests in the East it has surely been Turkey. I am personally familiar with the conditions in Syria and Armenia and I can only suppose that if the report, which "The Times" has published is correct, you have thrown to one side, your moral responsibilities and allied yourself with one of the prevailing anarchies. However, until I hear that this is not your attitude I cannot prejudice my mind. Perhaps you will do me the favour of sending me a reply."
I have sent a reply to the writer. But as the views expressed in the quotation are likely to be shared by many of my English friends and as I do not wish, if I can possibly help it, to forfeit their friendship or their esteem I shall endeavour to state my position as clearly as I can on the Khilafat question. The letter shows what risk public men run through irresponsible journalism. I have not seen The Times report, referred to by my friend. But it is evident that the report has made the writer to suspect my alliance with "the prevailing anarchies" and to think that I have "thrown to one side" my "moral responsibilities."
It is just my sense of moral responsibilities which has made me take up the Khilafat question and to identify myself entirely with the Mahomedans. It is perfectly true that I am assisting and countenancing the union between Hindus and Muslims, but certainly not with "a view of embarrassing England and the Allied Powers in the matter of the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire," it is contrary to my creed to embarrass governments or anybody else. This does not how ever mean that certain acts of mine may not result in embarrassment. But I should not hold myself responsible for having caused embarrassment when I resist the wrong of a wrong-doer by refusing assistance in his wrong-doing. On the Khilafat question I refuse to be party to a broken pledge. Mr. Lloyd George's solemn declaration is practically the whole of the case for Indian Mahomedans and when that case is fortified by scriptural authority it becomes unanswerable. Moreover, it is incorrect to say that I have "allied myself to one of the prevailing anarchies" or that I have wrongly countenanced the movement to place the cruel and unjust despotism of the Stamboul Government above the interests of humanity. In the whole of the Mahomedan demand there is no insistance on the retention of the so-called unjust despotism of the Stamboul Government; on the contrary the Mahomedans have accepted the principle of taking full guarantees from that Government for the protection of non-Muslim minorities. I do not know how far the condition of Armenia and Syria may be considered an 'anarchy' and how far the Turkish Government may be held responsible for it. I much suspect that the reports from these quarters are much exaggerated and that the European powers are themselves in a measure responsible for what misrule there may be in Armenia and Syria. But I am in no way interested in supporting Turkish or any other anarchy. The Allied Powers can easily prevent it by means other than that of ending Turkish rule or dismembering and weakening the Ottoman Empire. The Allied Powers are not dealing with a new situation. If Turkey was to be partitioned, the position should have been made clear at the commencement of the war. There would then have been no question of a broken pledge. As it is, no Indian Mahomedan has any regard for the promises of British Ministers. In his opinion, the cry against Turkey is that of Christianity vs. Islam with England as the louder in the cry. The latest cablegram from Mr. Mahomed Ali strengthens the impression, for he says that unlike as in England his deputation is receiving much support from the French Government and the people.
Thus, if it is true, as I hold it is true that the Indian Mussalmans have a cause that is just and is supported by scriptural authority, then for the Hindus not to support them to the utmost would be a cowardly breach of brotherhood and they would forfeit all claim to consideration from their Mahomedan countrymen. As a public-server therefore, I would be unworthy of the position I claim, if I did not support Indian Mussalmans in their struggle to maintain the Khilafat in accordance with their religious belief. I believe that in supporting them I am rendering a service to the Empire, because by assisting my Mahomedan countrymen to give a disciplined expression to their sentiment it becomes possible to make the agitation thoroughly, orderly and even successful.
The Turkish Treaty
The Turkish treaty will be out on the 10th of May. It is stated to provide for the internationalisation of the Straits, the occupation of Gallipoli by the Allies, the maintenance of Allied contingents in Constantinople and the appointment of a Commission of Control over Turkish finances. The San Remo Conference has entrusted Britain with Mandates for Mesopotamia and Palestine and France with the Mandate for Syria. As regards Smyrna the accounts so far received inform that Turkish suzerainty over Smyrna will be indicated by the fact that the population will not be entitled to send delegates to the Greek Parliament but at the end of five years local Smyrna Parliament will have the right of voting in favour of union with Greece and in such an event Turkish suzerainty will cease. Turkish suzerainty will be confined to the area within the Chatalja lines. With regard to Emir Foisul's position there is no news except that the Mandates of Britain and France transform his military title into a civil title.
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We have given above the terms of the Turkish treaty as indicated in Router's messages. These reports are incomplete and all of them are not equally authenticated. But if these terms are true, they are a challenge to the Muslim demands. Turkish Sovereignty is confined to the Chatalja lines. This means that the Big Three of the Supreme Council have cut off Thrace from Turkish dominions. This is a distinct breach of the pledge given by one of these Three, viz., the Premier of the British Empire. To remain within the Chatalja lines and, we are afraid, as a dependent of the Allies, is for the Sultan a humiliating position inconsistent with the Koranic injunctions. Such a restricted position of the Turks is virtually a success of the bag and baggage school.
It is not yet known how the Supreme Council disposed of the rich and renowned lands of Asia Minor. If Mr. Lloyd George's views recently expressed in this respect have received the Allies' sanction--it is probable--nothing less than a common control is expected. The decision in the case of Smyrna will be satisfying to none, though the Allies seem to have made by their arrangement a skillful attempt to please all the parties concerned. Mr. Lloyd George, in his reply to the Khilafat Deputation, had talked about the careful investigations by an impartial committee and had added; "The great majority of the population undoubtedly prefer Greek rule to Turkish rule, so I understand" But the decision postpones to carry out his understanding till a period of five years.
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When we come to the question of mandates, the Allied Powers' motives come out more distinctly. The Arabs' claim of independence was used as a difficulty against keeping Turkish Sovereignty. This was defended in the of self-determination and by pointing out parallels of Transylvania and other provinces. When the final moment came, the Allies have ventured to divide the spoils amongst themselves. Britain is given the mandate over Mesopotamia and Palestine and France has the mandate over Syria. The Arab delegation complains in their note lately issued expressing their disappointment at the Supreme Council's decision with regard to the Arab liberated countries, which, it declares, is contrary to the principle of self-determination.
So what little news has arrived about the Turkish treaty, is uniformly disquieting. The Moslems have found sufficient ground to honour Russia, more than the Allies. Russia has recognised the freedom of Khiva and Bokhara. The Moslem world, as H. M. the Amir of Afghanistan said in his speech, will feel grateful towards Russia in spite of all the rumours abroad about its anarchy and disorder, whereas the whole Moslem world will resent the action of the other European nations who have allied with each other to carry out a joint coercion and extinction of Turkey in the name of self-determination and partly in the guise of the interest of civilization.
The terms of the Turkish treaty are not only a breach of the Premier's pledge, not only a sin against the principle of self-determination, but they also show a reckless indifference of the Allied Powers towards the Koranic injunctions. The terms point out that Mr. Lloyd George's misinformed ideas of Khilafat have prevailed in the Council. Like Mr. Lloyd George other statesmen also at San Remo have compared Caliphate with Popedom and ignored the Koronic idea of associating spiritual power with temporal power. These misguided statesmen were too much possessed by haughtiness and so they refused to receive any enlightenment on the question of Khilafat from the Deputation. They could have corrected themselves had they heard Mr. Mahomed Ali on this point. Speaking at the Essex Hall meeting Mr. Mahomed Ali distinguished between Popedom and Caliphate and clearly explained what Caliphate means. He said:
"Islam is supernational and not national, the basis of Islamic sympathy is a common outlook on life and common culture.... And it has two centres. The personal centre is the island of Arabia. The Khalifa is the Commander of the Faithful and his orders must be obeyed by all Muslims so long and so long only, as they are not at variance with the Commandments of God and the Traditions of the Prophet. But since there is no lacerating distinction between things temporal and things spiritual, the Khalifa is something more than a Pope and cannot be "Vaticanised." But he is also less than a Pope for he is not infallible. If he persists in un-Islamic conduct we can depose him. And we have deposed him more than once. But so long as he orders only that which Islam demands we must support him. He and no other ruler is the Defender of our faith."
These few words could have removed the mis-undertakings rooted in the minds of those that at San Remo, if they were in earnest for a just solution. But Mr. Mahomed Ali's deputation was not given any hearing by the Peace Conference. They were told that the Peace Conference had already heard the official delegation of India on this question. But the wrong notions the Allies still entertain about Caliphate are a sufficient indication of the effects of the work of this official delegation. The result of these wrong notions is the present settlement and this unjust settlement will unsettle the world. They know not what they do.
Turkish Peace Terms
The question of question to-day is the Khilafat question, otherwise known as that of the Turkish peace terms. His Excellency the Viceroy deserves our thanks for receiving the joint deputation even at this late hour, especially when he was busy preparing to receive the head of the different provinces. His Excellency must be thanked for the unfailing courtesy with which he received the deputation and the courteous language in which his reply was couched. But mere courtesy, valuable as it is at all times, never so valuable as at this, is not enough at this critical moment. 'Sweet words butter no parsnips' is a proverb more applicable to-day than ever before. Behind the courtesy there was the determination to punish Turkey. Punishment of Turkey is a thing which Muslim sentiment cannot tolerate for a moment. Muslim soldiers are as responsible for the result of the war as any others. It was to appease them that Mr. Asquith said when Turkey decided to join the Central Powers that the British Government had no designs on Turkey and that His Majesty's Government would never think of punishing the Sultan for the misdeeds of the Turkish Committee. Examined by that standard the Viceregal reply is not only disappointing but it is a fall from truth and justice.
What is this British Empire? It is as much Mahomedan and Hindu as it is Christian. Its religious neutrality is not a virtue, or if it is, it is a virtue of necessity. Such a mighty Empire could not be held together on any other terms. British ministers are therefore bound to protect Mahomedan interests as any other. Indeed as the Muslim rejoinder says, they are bound to make the cause their own. What is the use of His Excellency having presented the Muslim claim before the Conference? If the cause is lost the Mahomedans will be entitled to think that Britain did not do her duty by them. And the Viceregal reply confirms the view. When His Excellency says that Turkey must suffer for her having joined the Central Powers he but expresses the opinion of British ministers. We hope, therefore, with the framers of the Muslim rejoinder that His Majesty's ministers will mend the mistakes if any have been committed and secure a settlement that would satisfy Mahomedan sentiment.
What does the sentiment demand? The preservation of the Khilafat with such guarantee as may be necessary for the protection of the interests of the non-Muslim races living under Turkish rule and the Khalif's control over Arabia and the Holy Places with such arrangement as may be required for guaranteeing Arab self-rule, should the Arabs desire it. It is hardly possible to state the claim more fairly than has been done. It is a claim backed by justice, by the declarations of British ministers and by the unanimous Hindu and Muslim opinion. It would be midsummer madness to reject or whittle down a claim so backed.
The Suzerainty over Arabia
"As I told you in my last letter I think Mr. Gandhi has made a serious mistake in the Kailafat business. The Indian Mahomedans base their demand on the assertion that their religion requires the Turkish rule over Arabia: but when they have against them in this matter, the Arabs themselves, it is impossible to regard the theory of the Indian Mahomedans as essential to Islam. After all if the Arabs do not represent Islam, who does? It is as if the German Roman Catholics made a demand in the name of Roman Catholicism with Rome and the Italians making a contrary demand. But even if the religion of the Indian Mahomedans did require that Turkish rule should be imposed upon the Arabs against their will, one could not, now-a-days, recognise as a really religious demand, one which required the continued oppression of one people by another. When an assurance was given at the beginning of the war to the Indian Mahomedans that the Mahomedan religion would be respected, that could never have meant that a temporal sovereignty which violated the principles of self-determination would be upheld. We could not now stand by and see the Turks re-conquer the Arabs (for the Arabs would certainly fight against them) without grossly betraying the Arabs to whom we have given pledges. It is not true that the Arab hostility to the Turks was due simply to European suggestion. No doubt, during the war we availed ourselves of the Arab hostility to the Turks to get another ally, but the hostility had existed long before the war. The Non-Turkish Mahomedan subjects of the Sultan in general wanted to get rid of his rule. It is the Indian Mahomedans who have no experience of that rule who want to impose it on others. As a matter of fact the idea of any restoration of Turkish rule in Syria or Arabia, seems so remote from all possibilities that to discuss it seems like discussing a restoration of the Holy Roman Empire. I cannot conceive what series of events could bring it about. The Indian Mahomedans certainly could not march into Arabia themselves and conquer the Arabs for the Sultan. And no amount of agitation and trouble in India would ever induce England to put back Turkish rule in Arabia. In this matter it is not English Imperialism which the Indian Mahomedans are up against, but the mass of English Liberal and Humanitarian opinion, the mass of the better opinion of England, which wants self-determination to go forward in India. Supposing the Indian Mahomedans could stir up an agitation so violent in India as to sever the connection between India and the British Crown, still they would not be any nearer to their purpose. For to-day they do have considerable influence on British world-policy. Even if in this matter of the Turkish question their influence has not been sufficient to turn the scale against the very heavy weights on the other side, it has weighed in the scale. But apart from the British connection, Indian Mahomedans would have no influence at all outside India. They would not count for more in world politics than the Mahomedans of China. I think it is likely (apart from the pressure of America on the other side. I should say certain) that the influence of the Indian Mahomedans may at any rate avail to keep the Sultan in Constantinople. But I doubt whether they will gain any advantage by doing so. For a Turkey cut down to the Turkish parts of Asia-Minor, Constantinople would be a very inconvenient capital. I think its inconvenience would more than outweigh the sentimental gratification of keeping up a phantom of the old Ottoman Empire. But if the Indian Mahomedans want the Sultan to retain his place in Constantinople I think the assurances given officially by the Viceroy in India now binds us to insist on his remaining there and I think he will remain there in spite of America."
This is an extract, from the letter of an Englishman enjoying a position in Great Britain, to a friend in India. It is a typical letter, sober, honest, to the point and put in such graceful language that whilst it challenges you, it commands your respect by its very gracefulness. But it is just this attitude based upon insufficient or false information which has ruined many a cause in the British Isles. The superficiality, the one-sidedness the inaccuracy and often even dishonesty that have crept into modern journalism, continuously mislead honest men who want to see nothing but justice done. Then there are always interested groups whose business it is to serve their ends by means of faul or food. And the honest Englishman wishing to vote for justice but swayed by conflicting opinions and dominated by distorted versions, often ends by becoming an instrument of injustice.
The writer of the letter quoted above has built up convincing argument on imaginary data. He has successfully shown that the Mahomedan case, as it has been presented to him, is a rotten case. In India, where it is not quite easy to distort facts about the Khilafat. English friends admit the utter justice of the Indian-Mahomedan claim. But they plead helplessness and tell us that the Government of India and Mr. Montagu have done all it was humanly possible for them to do. And if now the judgment goes against Islam, Indian Mahomedans should resign themselves to it. This extraordinary state of things would not be possible except under this modern rush and preoccupations of all responsible people.
Let us for a moment examine the case as it has been imagined by the writer. He suggests that Indian Mahomedans want Turkish rule in Arabia in spite of the opposition of the Arabs themselves, and that, if the Arabs do not want Turkish rule, the writer argues, no false religions sentiment can be permitted to interfere with self-determination of the Arabs when India herself has been pleading for that very status. Now the fact is that the Mahomedans, as is known to everybody who has at all studied the case, have never asked for Turkish rule in Arabia in opposition to the Arabs. On the contrary, they have said that they have no intention of resisting Arabian self-government. All they ask for is Turkish suzerainty over Arabia which would guarantee complete self-rule for the Arabs. They want Khalif's control of the Holy Places of Islam. In other words they ask for nothing more than what was guaranteed by Mr. Lloyd George and on the strength of which guarantee Mahomedan soldiers split their blood on behalf of the Allied Powers. All the elaborate argument therefore and the cogent reasoning of the above extract fall to pieces based as they are upon a case that has never existed. I have thrown myself heart and soul into this question because British pledges abstract justice, and religious sentiment coincide. I can conceive the possibility of a blind and fanatical religious sentiment existing in opposition to pure justice. I should then resist the former and fight for the latter. Nor would I insist upon pledges given dishonestly to support an unjust cause as has happened with England in the case of the secret treaties. Resistance there becomes not only lawful but obligatory on the part of a nation that prides itself on its righteousness.
It is unnecessary for me to examine the position imagined by the English friend, viz., how India would have fared had she been an independent power. It is unnecessary because Indian Mahomedans, and for that matter India, are fighting for a cause that is admittedly just; a cause in aid of which they are invoking the whole-hearted support of the British people. I would however venture to suggest that this is a cause in which mere sympathy will not suffice. It is a cause which demands support that is strong enough to bring about substantial justice.
Further Questions Answered
I have been overwhelmed with public criticism and private advice and even anonymous letters telling me exactly what I should do. Some are impatient that I do not advise immediate and extensive non-co-operation; others tell me what harm I am doing the country by throwing it knowingly in a tempest of violence on either side. It is difficult for me to deal with the whole of the criticism, but I would summarize some of the objections and endeavour to answer them to the best of my ability. These are in addition to those I have already answered:
(1) Turkish claim is immoral or unjust and how can I, a lover of truth and justice, support it?
(2) Even if the claim be just in theory, the Turk is hopelessly incapable, weak and cruel. He does not deserve any assistance.
(3) Even if Turkey deserves all that is claimed for her, why should I land India in an international struggle?
(4) It is no part of the Indian Mahomedans' business to meddle in this affair. If they cherish any political ambition, they have tried, they have failed and they should now sit still. If it is a religious matter with them, it cannot appeal to the Hindu reason in the manner it is put and in any case Hindus ought not to identify themselves with Mahomedans in their religious quarrel with Christendom.
(5) In no case should I advocate non-co-operation which in its extreme sense is nothing but a rebellion, no matter how peaceful it may be.
(6) Moreover, my experience of last year must show me that it is beyond the capacity of any single human being to control the forces of violence that are lying dormant in the land.
(7) Non-co-operation is futile because people will never respond in right earnest, and reaction that might afterwards set in will be worse than the state of hopefulness we are now in.
(8) Non-co-operation will bring about cessation of all other activities, even working of the Reforms, thus set back the clock of progress. (9) However pure my motives may be, those of the Mussalmans are obviously revengeful.
I shall now answer the objections in the order in which they are stated:
(1) In my opinion the Turkish claim is not only not immoral and unjust, but it is highly equitable, if only because Turkey wants to retain what is her own. And the Mahomedan manifesto has definitely declared that whatever guarantees may be necessary to be taken for the protection of non-Muslim and non-Turkish races, should be taken so as to give the Christians theirs and the Arabs their self-government under the Turkish suzerainty.
(2) I do not believe the Turk to be weak, incapable or cruel. He is certainly disorganised and probably without good generalship. He has been obliged to fight against heavy odds. The argument of weakness, incapacity and cruelty one often hears quoted in connection with those from whom power is sought to be taken away. About the alleged massacres a proper commission has been asked for, but never granted. And in any case security can be taken against oppression.
(3) I have already stated that if I were not interested in the Indian Mahomedans, I would not interest myself in the welfare of the Turks any more than I am in that of the Austrians or the Poles. But I am bound as an Indian to share the sufferings and trial of fellow-Indians. If I deem the Mahomedan to be my brother. It is my duty to help him in his hour of peril to the best of my ability, if his cause commends itself to me as just.
(4) The fourth refers to the extent Hindus should join hands with the Mahomedans. It is therefore a matter of feeling and opinion. It is expedient to suffer for my Mahomedan brother to the utmost in a just cause and I should therefore travel with him along the whole road so long as the means employed by him are as honourable as his end. I cannot regulate the Mahomedan feeling. I must accept his statement that the Khilafat is with him a religious question in the sense that it binds him to reach the goal even at the cost of his own life.
(5) I do not consider non-co-operation to be a rebellion, because it is free from violence. In a larger sense all opposition to a Government measure is a rebellion. In that sense, rebellion in a just cause is a duty, the extent of opposition being determined by the measure of the injustice done and felt.
(6) My experience of last year shows me that in spite of aberrations in some parts of India, the country was entirely under control that the influence of Satyagraha was profoundly for its good and that where violence did break out there were local causes that directly contributed to it. At the same time I admit that even the violence that did take place on the part of the people and the spirit of lawlessness that was undoubtedly shown in some parts should have remained under check. I have made ample acknowledgment of the miscalculation I then made. But all the painful experience that I then gained did not any way shake my belief in Satyagraha or in the possibility of that matchless force being utilised in India. Ample provision is being made this time to avoid the mistakes of the past. But I must refuse to be deterred from a clear course; because it may be attended by violence totally unintended and in spite of extraordinary efforts that are being made to prevent it. At the same time I must make my position clear. Nothing can possibly prevent a Satyagrahi from doing his duty because of the frown of the authorities. I would risk, if necessary, a million lives so long as they are voluntary sufferers and are innocent, spotless victims. It is the mistakes of the people that matter in a Satyagraha campaign. Mistakes, even insanity must be expected from the strong and the powerful, and the moment of victory has come when there is no retort to the mad fury of the powerful, but a voluntary, dignified and quiet submission but not submission to the will of the authority that has put itself in the wrong. The secret of success lies therefore in holding every English life and the life of every officer serving the Government as sacred as those of our own dear ones. All the wonderful experience I have gained now during nearly 40 years of conscious existence, has convinced me that there is no gift so precious as that of life. I make bold to say that the moment the Englishmen feel that although they are in India in a hopeless minority, their lives are protected against harm not because of the matchless weapons of destruction which are at their disposal, but because Indians refuse to take the lives even of those whom they may consider to be utterly in the wrong that moment will see a transformation in the English nature in its relation to India and that moment will also be the moment when all the destructive cutlery that is to be had in India will begin to rust. I know that this is a far-off vision. That cannot matter to me. It is enough for me to see the light and to act up to it, and it is more than enough when I gain companions in the onward march. I have claimed in private conversations with English friends that it is because of my incessant preaching of the gospel of non-violence and my having successfully demonstrated its practical utility that so far the forces of violence, which are undoubtedly in existence in connection with the Khilafat movement, have remained under complete control.
(7) From a religious standpoint the seventh objection is hardly worth considering. If people do not respond to the movement of non-co-operation, it would be a pity, but that can be no reason for a reformer not to try. It would be to me a demonstration that the present position of hopefulness is not dependent on any inward strength or knowledge, but it is hope born of ignorance and superstition.
(8) If non-co-operation is taken up in earnest, it must bring about a cessation of all other activities including the Reforms, but I decline to draw therefore the corollary that it will set back the clock of progress. On the contrary, I consider non-co-operation to be such a powerful and pure instrument, that if it is enforced in an earnest spirit, it will be like seeking first the Kingdom of God and everything else following as a matter of course. People will have then realised their true power. They would have learnt the value of discipline, self-control, joint action, non-violence, organisation and everything else that goes to make a nation great and good, and not merely great.
(9) I do not know that I have a right to arrogate greater purity for myself than for our Mussalman brethren. But I do admit that they do not believe in my doctrine of non-violence to the full extent. For them it is a weapon of the weak, an expedient. They consider non-co-operation without violence to be the only thing open to them in the war of direct action. I know that if some of them could offer successful violence, they would do to-day. But they are convinced that humanly speaking it is an impossibility. For them, therefore, non-co-operation is a matter not merely of duty but also of revenge. Whereas I take up non-co-operation against the Government as I have actually taken it up in practice against members of my own family. I entertain very high regard for the British constitution, I have not only no enmity against Englishmen but I regard much in English character as worthy of my emulation. I count many as my friends. It is against my religion to regard any one as an enemy. I entertain similar sentiments with respect to Mahomedans. I find their cause to be just and pure. Although therefore their viewpoint is different from mine I do not hesitate to associate with them and invite them to give my method a trial, for, I believe that the use of a pure weapon even from a mistaken motive does not fail to produce some good, even as the telling of truth if only because for the time being it is the best policy, is at least so much to the good.
Mr. Candler's Open Letter
Mr. Candler has favoured me with an open letter on this question of questions. The letter has already appeared in the Press. I can appreciate Mr. Candler's position as I would like him and other Englishmen to appreciate mine and that of hundreds of Hindus who feel as I do. Mr. Candler's letter is an attempt to show that Mr. Lloyd George's pledge is not in any way broken by the peace terms. I quite agree with him that Mr. Lloyd George's words ought not to be torn from their context to support the Mahomedan claim. These are Mr. Lloyd George's words as quoted in the recent Viceregal message: "Nor are we fighting to destroy Austria-Hungary or to deprive Turkey of its capital or of the rich and renowned lands of Asia Minor and Thrace which are predominantly Turkish in race." Mr. Candler seems to read 'which', as if it meant 'if they,' whereas I give the pronoun its natural meaning, namely, that the Prime Minister knew in 1918, that the lands referred to by him were "predominantly Turkish in race." And if this is the meaning I venture to suggest that the pledge has been broken in a most barefaced manner, for there is practically nothing left to the Turk of 'the rich and renowned lands of Asia Minor and Thrace.'
I have already my view of the retention of the Sultan in Constantinople. It is an insult to the intelligence of man to suggest that 'the maintenance of the Turkish Empire in the homeland of the Turkish race with its capital at Constantinople has been left unimpaired by the terms of peace. This is the other passage from the speech which I presume Mr. Candler wants me to read together with the one already quoted:
"While we do not challenge the maintenance of the Turkish Empire in the home-land of the Turkish race with its capital at Constantinople, the passage between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea being inter-nationalised, Armenia, Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine are in our judgment entitled to a recognition of their separate national condition."
Did that mean entire removal of Turkish influence, extinction of Turkish suzerainty and the introduction of European-Christian influence under the guise of Mandates? Have the Moslems of Arabia, Armenia, Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine been committed, or is the new arrangement being superimposed upon them by Powers conscious of their own brute-strength rather than of justice of their action? I for one would nurse by every legitimate means the spirit of independence in the brave Arabs, but I shudder to think what will happen to them under the schemes of exploitation of their country by the greedy capitalists protected as they will be by the mandatory Powers. If the pledge is to be fulfilled, let these places have full self-government with suzerainty to be retained with Turkey as has been suggested by the Times of India. Let there be all the necessary guarantees taken from Turkey about the internal independence of the Arabs. But to remove that suzerainty, to deprive the Khalif of the wardenship of the Holy Places is to render Khilafat a mockery which no Mahomedan can possibly look upon with equanimity, I am not alone in my interpretation of the pledge. The Right Hon'ble Ameer Ali calls the peace terms a breach of faith. Mr. Charles Roberts reminds the British public that the Indian Mussalman sentiment regarding the Turkish Treaty is based upon the Prime Minister's pledge "regarding Thrace, Constantinople and Turkish lands in Asia Minor, repeated on February 26 last with deliberation by Mr. Lloyd George. Mr. Roberts holds that the pledge must be treated as a whole, not as binding only regarding Constantinople but also binding as regards Thrace and Asia Minor. He describes the pledge as binding upon the nation as a whole and its breach in any part as a gross breach of faith on the part of the British Empire. He demands that if there is an unanswerable reply to the charge of breach of faith it ought to be given and adds the Prime Minister may regard his own word lightly if he chooses, but he has no right to break a pledge given on behalf of the nation. He concludes that it is incredible that such pledge should not have been kept in the letter and in the spirit." He adds: "I have reason to believe that these views are fully shared by prominent members of the Cabinet."
I wonder if Mr. Candler knows what is going on to-day in England. Mr. Pickthall writing in New Age says: "No impartial international enquiry into the whole question of the Armenian massacres has been instituted in the ample time which has elapsed since the conclusion of armistice with Turkey. The Turkish Government has asked for such enquiry. But the Armenian organisations and the Armenian partisans refuse to hear of such a thing, declaring that the Bryce and Lepssens reports are quite sufficient to condemn the Turks. In other words the judgment should be given on the case for prosecution alone. The inter-allied commission which investigated the unfortunate events in Smyrna last year, made a report unfavourable to Greek claims. Therefore, that report has not been published here in England, though in other countries it has long been public property." He then goes on to show how money is being scattered by Armenian and Greek emissaries in order to popularise their cause and adds: "This conjunction of dense ignorance and cunning falsehood is fraught with instant danger to the British realm," and concludes: "A Government and people which prefer propaganda to fact as the ground of policy--and foreign policy at that--is self-condemned."
I have reproduced the above extract in order to show that the present British policy has been affected by propaganda of an unscrupulous nature. Turkey which was dominant over two million square miles of Asia, Africa and Europe in the 17th century, under the terms of the treaty, says the London Chronicle, has dwindled down to little more than 1,000 square miles. It says, "All European Turkey could now be accommodated comfortably between the Landsend and the Tamar, Cornawal alone exceeding its total area and but for its alliance with Germany, Turkey could have been assured of retaining at least sixty thousand square miles of the Eastern Balkans." I do not know whether the Chronicle view is generally shared. Is it by way of punishment that Turkey is to undergo such shrinkage, or is it because justice demands it? If Turkey had not made the mistake of joining Germany, would the principle of nationality have been still applied to Armenia, Arabia, Mesopotamia and Palestine?
Let me now remind those who think with Mr. Candler that the promise was not made by Mr. Lloyd George to the people of India in anticipation of the supply of recruits continuing. In defending his own statement Mr. Lloyd George is reported to have said:
"The effect of the statement in India was that recruiting went up appreciably from that very moment. They were not all Mahomedans but there were many Mahomedans amongst them. Now we are told that was an offer to Turkey. But they rejected it, and therefore we were absolutely free. It was not. It is too often forgotten that we are the greatest Mahomedan power in the world and one-fourth of the population of the British Empire is Mahomedan. There have been no more loyal adherents to the throne and no more effective and loyal supporters of the Empire in its hour of trial. We gave a solemn pledge and they accepted it. They are disturbed by the prospect of our not abiding by it."
Who shall interpret that pledge and how? How did the Government of India itself interpret it? Did it or did it not energetically support the claim for the control of the Holy Places of Islam vesting in the Khalif? Did the Government of India suggest that the whole of Jazirat-ul-Arab could he taken away consistently with that pledge from the sphere of influence of the Khalif, and given over to the Allies as mandatory Powers? Why does the Government of India sympathise with the Indian Mussalmans if the terms are all they should be? So much for the pledge. I would like to guard myself against being understood that I stand or fall absolutely by Mr. Lloyd George's declaration. I have advisedly used the adverb 'practically' in connection with it. It is an important qualification.'
Mr. Candler seems to suggest that my goal is something more than merely attaining justice on the Khilafat. If so, he is right. Attainment of justice is undoubtedly the corner-stone, and if I found that I was wrong in my conception of justice on this question, I hope I shall have the courage immediately to retrace my steps. But by helping the Mahomedans of India at a critical moment in their history, I want to buy their friendship. Moreover, if I can carry the Mahomedans with me I hope to wean Great Britain from the downward path along which the Prime Minister seems to me to be taking her. I hope also to show to India and the Empire at large that given a certain amount of capacity for self-sacrifice, justice can be secured by peacefullest and cleanest means without sowing or increasing bitterness between English and Indians. For, whatever may be the temporary effect of my methods, I know enough of them to feel certain that they alone are immune from lasting bitterness. They are untainted with hatred, expedience or untruth.
In process of keeping
The writer of 'Current Topics' in the "Times of India" has attempted to challenge the statement made in my Khilafat article regarding ministerial pledges, and in doing so cites Mr. Asquith's Guild-Hall speech of November 10, 1914. When I wrote the articles, I had in mind Mr. Asquith's speech. I am sorry that he ever made that speech. For, in my humble opinion, it betrayed to say the least, a confusion of thought. Could he think of the Turkish people as apart from the Ottoman Government? And what is the meaning of the death-knell of Ottoman Dominion in Europe and Asia if it be not the death knell of Turkish people as a free and governing race? Is it, again, true historically that the Turkish rule has always been a blight that 'has withered some of the fairest regions of the earth?' And what is the meaning of his statement that followed, viz., "Nothing is further from our thoughts than to imitate or encourage a crusade against their belief?" If words have any meaning, the qualifications that Mr. Asquith introduced in his speech should have meant a scrupulous regard for Indian Muslim feeling. And if that be the meaning of his speech, without anything further to support me I would claim that even Mr. Asquith's assurance is in danger of being set at nought if the resolutions of the San Remo Conference are to be crystallised into action. But I base remarks on a considered speech made by Mr. Asquith's successor two years later when things had assumed a more threatening shape than in 1914 and when the need for Indian help was much greater than in 1914. His pledge would bear repetition till it is fulfilled. He said: "Nor are we fighting to deprive Turkey of its capital or of the rich and renowned lands of Asia Minor and Thrace which are predominantly Turkish in race. We do not challenge the maintenance of the Turkish Empire in the homelands of the Turkish race with its capital at Constantinople." If only every word of this pledge is fulfilled both in letter and in spirit, there would be little left for quarrelling about. In so far as Mr. Asquith's declaration can be considered hostile to the Indian Muslim claim, it its superseded by the later and more considered declaration of Mr. Lloyd George--a declaration made irrevocable by fulfilment of the consideration it expected, viz. the enlistment of the brave Mahomedan soldiery which fought in the very place which is now being partitioned in spite of the pledge. But the writer of 'Current Topics' says Mr. Lloyd George "is now in process of keeping his pledge" I hope he is right. But what has already happened gives little ground for any such hope. For, imprisonment or internment of the Khalif in his own capital will be not only a mockery of fulfilment but it would he adding injury to insult. Either the Turkish Empire is to be maintained in the homelands of the Turkish race with its capital at Constantinople or it is not. If it is, let the Indian Mahomedans feel the full glow of it or if the Empire is to be broken up, let the mask of hypocrisy be lifted and India see the truth in its nakedness. To join the Khilafat movement then means to join a movement to keep inviolate the pledge of a British minister. Surely, such a movement is worth much greater sacrifice than may be involved in non-co-operation.
Appeal to the Viceroy
As one who has enjoyed a certain measure of your Excellency's confidence, and as one who claims to be a devoted well-wisher of the British Empire, I owe it to your Excellency, and through your Excellency to His Majesty's Ministers, to explain my connection with and my conduct in the Khilafat question.
At the very earliest stages of the war, even whilst I was in London organising the Indian Volunteer Ambulance Corps, I began to interest myself in the Khilafat question. I perceived how deeply moved the little Mussalman World in London was when Turkey decided to throw in her lot with Germany. On my arrival in India in the January of 1915, I found the same anxiousness and earnestness among the Mussalmans with whom I came in contact. Their anxiety became intense when the information about the Secret Treaties leaked out. Distrust of British intentions filled their minds, and despair took possession of them. Even at that moment I advised my Mussalman friends not to give way to despair, but to express their fear and their hopes in a disciplined manner. It will be admitted that the whole of Mussalman India has behaved in a singularly restrained manner during the past five years and that the leaders have been able to keep the turbulent sections of their community under complete control.
The peace terms and your Excellency's defence of them have given the Mussalmans of India a shock from which it will be difficult for them to recover. The terms violate ministerial pledges and utterly disregard Mussalman sentiment. I consider that as a staunch Hindu wishing to live on terms of the closest friendship with my Mussalman countrymen. I should be an unworthy son of India if I did not stand by them in their hour of trial. In my humble opinion their cause is just. They claim that Turkey must be punished if their sentiment is to be respected. Muslim soldiers did fight to inflict punishment on their own Khalifa or to deprive him of his territories. The Mussalman attitude has been consistent, throughout these five years.
My duty to the Empire to which I owe my loyalty requires me to resist the cruel violence that has been done to the Mussalman sentiment. So far as I am aware, Mussulmans and Hindus have as a whole lost faith in British justice and honour. The report of the majority of the Hunter Committee, Your Excellency's despatch thereon and Mr. Montagu's reply have only aggravated the distrust.
In these circumstances the only course open to one like me is either in despair to sever all connection with British rule, or, if I still retained faith in the inherent superiority of the British constitution to all others at present in vogue to adopt such means as will rectify the wrong done, and thus restore confidence. I have not lost faith in such superiority and I am not without hope that somehow or other justice will yet be rendered if we show the requisite capacity for suffering. Indeed, my conception of that constitution is that it helps only those who are ready to help themselves. I do not believe that it protects the weak. It gives free scope to the strong to maintain their strength and develop it. The weak under it go to the wall.
It is, then, because I believe in the British constitution that I have advised my Mussalman friends to withdraw their support from your Excellency's Government and the Hindus to join them, should the peace terms not be revised in accordance with the solemn pledges of Ministers and the Muslim sentiment.
Three courses were open to the Mahomedans in order to mark their emphatic disapproval of the utter injustice to which His Majesty's Ministers have become party, if they have not actually been the prime perpetrators of it. They are:
(1) To resort to violence,
(2) To advise emigration on a wholesale scale,
(3) Not to be party to the injustice by ceasing to co-operate with the Government.
Your Excellency must be aware that there was a time when the boldest, though the most thoughtless among the Mussulmans favoured violence, and the "Hijrat" (emigration) has not yet ceased to be the battle-cry. I venture to claim that I have succeeded by patient reasoning in weaning the party of violence from its ways. I confess that I did not--I did not attempt to succeed in weaning them from violence on moral grounds, but purely on utilitarian grounds. The result, for the time being at any has, however, been to stop violence. The School of "Hijrat" has received a check, if it has not stopped its activity entirely. I hold that no repression could have prevented a violent eruption, if the people had not had presented to them a form of direct action involving considerable sacrifice and ensuring success if such direct action was largely taken up by the public. Non-co-operation was the only dignified and constitutional form of such direct action. For it is the right recognised from times immemorial of the subject to refuse to assist a ruler who misrules.
At the same time I admit that non-co-operation practised by the mass of people is attended with grave risks. But, in a crisis such as has overtaken the Mussalmans of India, no step that is unattended with large risks, can possibly bring about the desired change. Not to run some risks now will be to court much greater risks if not virtual destruction of Law and Order.
But there is yet an escape from non-co-operation. The Mussalman representation has requested your Excellency to lead the agitation yourself, as did your distinguished predecessor at the time of the South African trouble. But if you cannot see your way to do so, and non-co-operation becomes a dire necessity, I hope that your Excellency will give those who have accepted my advice and myself the credit for being actuated by nothing less than a stern sense of duty.
I have the honour to remain,
Your Excellency's faithful servant, (Sd.) M.K. GANDHI. Laburnam Road, Gamdevi, Bombay 22nd June 1920
The Premier's Reply
The English mail has brought us a full and official report of the Premier's speech which he recently made when he received the Khilafat deputation. Mr. Lloyd George's speech is more definite and therefore more disappointing than H.E. the Viceroy's reply to the deputation here. He draws quite unwarranted deductions from the same high principles on which he had based his own pledge only two years ago. He declares that Turkey must pay the penalty of defeat. This determination to punish Turkey does not become one whose immediate predecessor had, in order to appease Muslim soldiers, promised that the British Government had no designs on Turkey and that His Majesty's Government would never think of punishing the Sultan for the misdeeds of the Turkish Committee. Mr. Lloyd George has expressed his belief that the majority of the population of Turkey did not really want to quarrel with Great Britain and that their rulers misled the country. In spite of this conviction and in spite of Mr. Asquith's promise, he is out to punish Turkey and punish it in the name of justice.
He expounds the principle of self-determination and justifies the scheme of depriving Turkey of its territories one after another. While justifying this scheme he does not exclude even Thrace and this strikes the reader most, because this very Thrace he had mentioned in his pledge as predominantly Turkish. Now we are told by him that both the Turkish census and the Greek census agree in pointing out the Mussulman population in Thrace is in a considerable minority! Mr. Yakub Hussain speaking at the Madras Khilafat conference has challenged the truth of this statement. The Prime Minister cites among others also the example of Smyrna where, he says, we had a most careful investigation by a very impartial committee in the whole of the question of Smyrna and it was found that considerable majority was non-Turkish.' Who will believe the one-sided "impartial committee's" investigations until it is disproved that thousands of Musselmans have been murdered and hundreds of thousands have been driven away from their hearths and homes? Strangely enough Mr. Lloyd George, believes in the necessity of fresh investigations by a purposely appointed committee in Smyrna as the most authenticated and up-to-date report, whereas he would not accept Mr. Mahomed Ali's proposal for an impartial commission in regard to Armenian massacre! Doubtful and one-sided facts and figures suffice for him even to conclude that the Turkish Government is incapable of protecting its subjects. And he proceeds to suggest foreign interference in ruling over Asia Minor in the interests of civilization. Here he cuts at the root of the Sultan's independence. This proposal of appropriating supervision is distinctly unlike the treatment meted out to other enemy powers.
This detraction of the Sultan's suzerainty is only a corollary of the Premier's indifference towards the Muslim idea of the Caliphate. The premier's injustice in treating the Turkish question becomes graver when he thus lightly handles the Khilafat question. There had been occasions when the British have used to their advantage the Muslim idea of associating the Caliph's spiritual power with temporal power. Now this very association is treated as a controversial question by the great statesman.
Will this raise the reputation of Great Britain or stain it? Can this be tolerated by those who fought against Turkey with full faith in British honesty? Mere receipts of gratitude cannot console the wounded Mussalmans. There lies the alternative for England to choose between two mandates--a mandate over some Turkish territories which is sure to lead to chaos all over the world and a mandate over the hearts of the Muhomedans which will redeem the pledged honour of Britain. The prime minister has an unwise choice. This narrow view registers the latest temperature of British diplomacy.
The Muslim Representation
Slowly but surely the Mussulmans are preparing for the battle before them. They have to fight against odds that are undoubtedly heavy but not half as heavy as the prophet had against him. How often did he not put his life in danger? But his faith in God was unquenchable. He went forward with a light heart, for God was on his side, for he represented truth. If his followers have half the prophet's faith and half his spirit of sacrifice, the odds will be presently even and will in little while turn against the despoilers of Turkey. Already the rapacity of the Allies is telling against themselves. France finds her task difficult. Greece cannot stomach her ill-gotten gains. And England finds Mesopotamia a tough job. The oil of Mosul may feed the fire she has so wantonly lighted and burn her fingers badly. The newspapers say the Arabs do not like the presence of the Indian soldiery in their midst. I do not wonder. They are a fierce and a brave people and do not understand why Indian soldiers should find themselves in Mesopotamia. Whatever the fate of non-co-operation, I wish that not a single Indian will offer his services for Mesopotamia whether for the civil or the military department. We must learn to think for ourselves and before entering upon any employment find out whether thereby we may not make ourselves instruments of injustice. Apart from the question of Khilafat and from the point of abstract justice the English have no right to hold Mesopotamia. It is no part of our loyalty to help the Imperial Government in what is in plain language daylight robbery. If therefore we seek civil or military employment in Mesopotamia we do so for the sake of earning a livelihood. It is our duty to see that the source is not tainted.
It surprises me to find so many people shirking over the mention of non-co-operation. There is no instrument so clean, so harmless and yet so effective as non-co-operation. Judiciously hauled it need not produce any evil consequences. And its intensity will depend purely on the capacity of the people for sacrifice.
The chief thing is to prepare the atmosphere of non-co-operation. "We are not going to co-operate with you in your injustice," is surely the right and the duty of every intelligent subject to say. Were it not for our utter servility, helplessness and want of confidence in ourselves, we would certainly grasp this clean weapon and make the most effective use of it. Even the most despotic government cannot stand except for the consent of the governed which consent is often forcibly procured by the despot. Immediately the subject ceases to fear the despotic force his power is gone. But the British government is never and nowhere entirely or laid upon force. It does make an honest attempt to secure the goodwill of the governed. But it does not hesitate to adopt unscrupulous means to compel the consent of the governed. It has not gone beyond the 'Honesty is the best policy' idea. It therefore bribes you into consenting its will by awarding titles, medals and ribbons, by giving you employment, by its superior financial ability to open for its employees avenues for enriching themselves and finally when these fail, it resorts to force. That is what Sir Michael O'Dwyer did and that is almost every British administrator will certainly do if he thought it necessary. If then we would not be greedy, if we would not run after titles and medals and honorary posts which do the country no good, half the battle is won.
My advisers are never tired of telling me that even if the Turkish peace terms are revised it will not be due to non-co-operation. I venture to suggest to them that non-co-operation has a higher purpose than mere revision of the terms. If I cannot compel revision I must at least cease to support a government that becomes party to the usurpation. And if I succeed in pushing non-co-operation to the extreme limit, I do compel the Government to choose between India and the usurpation. I have faith enough in England to know that at that moment England will expel her present jaded ministers and put in others who will make a clean sweep of the terms in consultation with an awakened India, draft terms that will be honourable to her, to Turkey and acceptable to India. But I hear my critics say "India has not the strength of purpose and the capacity for the sacrifice to achieve such a noble end. They are partly right. India has not these qualities now, because we have not--shall we not evolve them and infect the nation with them? Is not the attempt worth making? Is my sacrifice too great to gain such a great purpose?"
Criticism of the Manifesto
The Khilafat representation addressed to the Viceroy and my letter on the same subject have been severely criticised by the Anglo-Indian press. The Times of India which generally adopts an impartial attitude has taken strong exception to certain statements made in the Muslim manifesto and has devoted a paragraph of its article to an advance criticism of my suggestion that His Excellency should resign if the peace terms are not revised.
The Times of India excepts to the submission that the British Empire may not treat Turkey like a departed enemy. The signatories have, I think, supplied the best of reasons. They say "We respectfully submit that in the treatment of Turkey the British Government are bound to respect Indian Muslim sentiment in so far as it is neither unjust nor unreasonable." If the seven crore Mussulmans are partners in the Empire, I submit that their wish must be held to be all sufficient for refraining from punishing Turkey. It is beside the point to quote what Turkey did during the war. It has suffered for it. The Times inquires wherein Turkey has been treated worse than the other Powers. I thought that the fact was self-evident. Neither Germany nor Austria and Hungary has been treated in the same way that Turkey has been. The whole of the Empire has been reduced to the retention of a portion of its capital, as it were, to mock the Sultan and that too has been done under terms so humiliating that no self-respecting person much less a reigning sovereign can possibly accept.
The Times has endeavoured to make capital out of the fact that the representation does not examine the reason for Turkey not joining the Allies. Well there was no mystery about it. The fact of Russia being one of the Allies was enough to warn Turkey against joining them. With Russia knocking at the gate at the time of the war it was not an easy matter for Turkey to join the Allies. But Turkey had cause to suspect Great Britain herself. She knew that England had done no friendly turn to her during the Bulgarian War. She was hardly well served at the time of the war with Italy. It was still no doubt a bad choice. With the Musssalmans of India awakened and ready to support her, her statesmen might have relied upon Britain not being allowed to damage Turkey if she had remained with the Allies. But this is all wisdom after event. Turkey made a bad choice and she was punished for it. To humiliate her now is to ignore the Indian Mussulman sentiment. Britain may not do it and retain the loyalty of the awakened Mussulmans of India.
For "The Times" to say that the peace terms strictly follow the principle of self-determination is to throw dust in the eyes of its readers. Is it the principle of self-determination that has caused the cessation of Adrianople and Thrace to Greece? By what principle of self-determination has Smyrna been handed to Greece? Have the inhabitants of Thrace and Smyrna asked for Grecian tutelege?
I decline to believe that the Arabs like the disposition that has been made of them. Who is the King of Hedjaj and who is Emir Feisul? Have the Arabs elected these kings and chiefs? Do the Arabs like the Mandate being taken by England? By the time the whole thing is finished, the very name self-determination will stink in one's nostrils. Already signs are not wanting to show that the Arabs, the Thracians and the Smyrnans are resenting their disposal. They may not like Turkish rule but they like the present arrangement less. They could have made their own honourable terms with Turkey but these self-determining people will now be held down by the 'matchless might' of the allied i.e., British forces. Britain had the straight course open to her of keeping the Turkish Empire intact and taking sufficient guarantees for good government. But her Prime Minister chose the crooked course of secret treaties, duplicity and hypocritical subterfuges.
There is still a way out. Let her treat India as a real partner. Let her call the true representatives of the Mussalmans. Let them go to Arabia and the other parts of the Turkish Empire and let her devise a scheme that would not humiliate Turkey, that would satisfy the just Muslim sentiment and that will secure honest self-determination for the races composing that Empire. If it was Canada, Australia or South Africa that had to be placated, Mr. Lloyd George would not have dared to ignore them. They have the power to secede. India has not. Let him no more insult India by calling her a partner, if her feelings count for naught. I invite The Times of India to reconsider its position and join an honourable agitation in which a high-souled people are seeking nothing but justice.
I do with all deference still suggest that the least that Lord Chelmsford can do is to resign if the sacred feelings of India's sons are not to be consulted and respected by the Ministers. The Times is over-taxing the constitution when it suggests that as a constitutional Viceroy it is not open to Lord Chelmsford to go against the decision of his Majesty's Ministers. It is certainly not open to a Viceroy to retain office and oppose ministerial decisions. But the constitution does allow a Viceroy to resign his high office when he is called upon to carry out decisions that are immoral as the peace terms are or like these terms are calculated to stir to their very depth the feelings of those whose affair he is administering for the time being.
The Mahomedan Decision
The Khilafat meeting at Allahabad has unanimously reaffirmed the principle of non-co-operation and appointed an executive committee to lay down and enforce a detailed programme. This meeting was preceded by a joint Hindu-Mahomedan meeting at which Hindu leaders were invited to give their views. Mrs. Beasant, the Hon'ble Pandit Malaviyuji, the Hon'ble Dr. Sapru Motilal Nehru Chintamani and others were present at the meeting. It was a wise step on the part of the Khilafat Committee to invite Hindus representing all shades of thought to give them the benefit of their advice. Mrs. Besant and Dr. Sapru strongly dissuaded the Mahomedans present from the policy of non-co-operation. The other Hindu speakers made non-committal speeches. Whilst the other Hindu speakers approved of the principle of non-co-operation in theory, they saw many practical difficulties and they feared also complications arising from Mahomedans welcoming an Afghan invasion of India. The Mahomedan speakers gave the fullest and frankest assurances that they would fight to a man any invader who wanted to conquer India, but were equally frank in asserting that any invasion from without undertaken with a view to uphold the prestige of Islam and to vindicate justice would have their full sympathy if not their actual support. It is easy enough to understand and justify the Hindu caution. It is difficult to resist Mahomedan position. In my opinion, the best way to prevent India from becoming the battle ground between the forces of Islam and those of the English is for Hindus to make non-co-operation a complete and immediate success, and I have little doubt that if the Mahomedans remain true to their declared intention and are able to exercise self-restraint, and make sacrifices the Hindus will "play the game" and join them in the campaign of non-co-operation. I feel equally certain that the Hindus will not assist Mahomedans in promoting or bringing about an armed conflict between the British Government and their allies, and Afghanistan. British forces are too well organised to admit of any successful invasion of the Indian frontier. The only way, therefore, the Mahomedans can carry on an effective struggle on behalf of the honour of Islam is to take up non-co-operation in real earnest. It will not only be completely effective if it is adopted by the people on an extensive scale, but it will also provide full scope for individual conscience. If I cannot bear an injustice done by an individual or a corporation, and if I am directly or indirectly instrumental in upholding that individual or corporation, I must answer for it before my Maker, but I have done all it is humanly possible for me to do consistently with the moral code that refuses to injure even the wrong-doer, if I cease to support the injustice in the manner described above. In applying therefore such a great force there should be no haste, there should be no temper shown. Non-co-operation must be and remain absolutely a voluntary effort. The whole thing then depends upon Mahomedans themselves. If they will but help themselves Hindu help will come and the Government, great and mighty though it is, will have to bend before this irresistible force. No Government can possibly withstand the bloodless opposition of a whole nation.
Mr. Andrew's Difficulty
Mr. Andrews whose love for India is equalled only by his love for England and whose mission in life is to serve God, i.e., humanity through India, has contributed remarkable articles to the 'Bombay Chronicle' on the Khilafat movement. He has not spared England, France or Italy. He has shown how Turkey has been most unjustly dealt with and how the Prime Minister's pledge has been broken. He has devoted the last article to an examination of Mr. Mahomed Ali's letter to the Sultan and has come to the conclusion that Mr. Mahomed Ali's statement of claim is at variance with the claim set forth in the latest Khilafat representation to the Viceroy which he wholly approves.
Mr. Andrews and I have discussed the question as fully as it was possible. He asked me publicly to define my own position more fully than I have done. His sole object in inviting discussion is to give strength to a cause which he holds as intrinsically just, and to gather round it the best opinion of Europe so that the allied powers and especially England may for very shame be obliged to revise the terms.
I gladly respond to Mr. Andrew's invitation. I should clear the ground by stating that I reject any religious doctrine that does not appeal to reason and is in conflict with morality. I tolerate unreasonable religious sentiment when it is not immoral. I hold the Khilafat claim to be both just and reasonable and therefore it derives greater force because it has behind it the religious sentiment of the Mussalman world.
In my opinion Mr. Mahomed Ali's statement is unexceptionable. It is no doubt clothed in diplomatic language. But I am not prepared to quarrel with the language so long as it is sound in substance.
Mr. Andrews considers that Mr. Mahomed Ali's language goes to show that he would resist Armenian independence against the Armenians and the Arabian against the Arabs. I attach no such meaning to it. What he, the whole of Mussalmans and therefore I think also the Hindus resist is the shameless attempt of England and the other Powers under cover of self-determination to emasculate and dismember Turkey. If I understand the spirit of Islam properly, it is essentially republican in the truest sense of the term. Therefore if Armenia or Arabia desired independence of Turkey they should have it. In the case of Arabia, complete Arabian independence would mean transference of the Khilafat to an Arab chieftain. Arabia in that sense is a Mussulman trust, not purely Arabian. And the Arabs without ceasing to be Mussulman, could not hold Arabia against Muslim opinion. The Khalifa must be the custodian of the Holy places and therefore also the routes to them. He must be able to defend them against the whole world. And if an Arab chief arose who could better satisfy that test than the Sultan of Turkey, I have no doubt that he would be recognised as the Khalifa.
I have thus discussed the question academically. The fact is that neither the Mussulmans nor the Hindus believe in the English Ministerial word. They do not believe that the Arabs or the Armenians want complete independence of Turkey. That they want self-government is beyond doubt. Nobody disputes that claim. But nobody has ever ascertained that either the Arabs or the Armenians desire to do away with all connection, even nominal, with Turkey.
The solution of the question lies not in our academic discussion of the ideal position, it lies in an honest appointment of a mixed commission of absolutely independent Indian Mussulmans and Hindus and independent Europeans to investigate the real wish of the Armenians and the Arabs and then to come to a modus vivendi where by the claims of the nationality and those of Islam may be adjusted and satisfied.
It is common knowledge that Smyrna and Thrace including Adrianople have been dishonestly taken away from Turkey and that mandates have been unscrupulously established in Syria and Mesopotamia and a British nominee has been set up in Hedjaj under the protection of British guns. This is a position that is intolerable and unjust. Apart therefore from the questions of Armenia and Arabia, the dishonesty and hypocrisy that pollute the peace terms require to be instantaneously removed. It paves the way to an equitable solution of the question of Armenian and Arabian independence which in theory no one denies and which in practice may be easily guaranteed if only the wishes of the people concerned could with any degree of certainty be ascertained.
The Khilafat Agitation
A friend who has been listening to my speeches once asked me whether I did not come under the sedition section of the Indian Penal Code. Though I had not fully considered it, I told him that very probably I did and that I could not plead 'not guilty' if I was charged under it. For I must admit that I can pretend to no 'affection' for the present Government.
And my speeches are intended to create 'dis-affection' such that the people might consider it a shame to assist or co-operate with a Government that had forfeited all title to confidence, respect or support.
I draw no distinction between the Imperial and the Indian Government. The latter has accepted, on the Khilafat, the policy imposed upon it by the former. And in the Punjab case the former has endorsed the policy of terrorism and emasculation of a brave people initiated by the latter. British ministers have broken their pledged word and wantonly wounded the feelings of the seventy million Mussulmans of India. Innocent men and women were insulted by the insolent officers of the Punjab Government. Their wrongs not only remain unrighted but the very officers who so cruelly subjected them to barbarous humiliation retain office under the Government.
When at Amritsar last year I pleaded with all the earnestness I could command for co-operation with the Government and for response to the wishes expressed in the Royal Proclamation. I did so because I honestly believed that, a new era was about to begin, and that the old spirit of fear, distrust and consequent terrorism was about to give place to the new spirit of respect, trust and goodwill. I sincerely believed that the Mussulman sentiment would be placated and that the officers that had misbehaved during the Martial Law regime in the Punjab would be at least dismissed and the people would be otherwise made to feel that a Government that had always been found quick (and mighty) to punish popular excesses would not fail to punish its agents' misdeeds. But to my amazement and dismay I have discovered that the present representatives of the Empire have become dishonest and unscrupulous. They have no real regard for the wishes of the people of India and they count Indian honour as of little consequence.
I can no longer retain affection for a Government so evilly manned as it is now-a-days. And for me, it is humiliating to retain my freedom and be witness to the continuing wrong. Mr. Montagu however is certainly right in threatening me with deprivation of my liberty if I persist in endangering the existence of the Government. For that must be the result if my activity bears fruit. My only regret is that inasmuch as Mr. Montagu admits my past services, he might have perceived that there must be something exceptionally bad in the Government if a well-wisher like me could no longer give his affection to it. It was simpler to insist on justice being done to the Mussalmans and to the Punjab than to threaten me with punishment so that the injustice might be perpetuated. Indeed I fully expect it will be found that even in promoting disaffection towards an unjust Government I had rendered greater services to the Empire than I am already credited with.
At the present moment, however, the duty of those who approve my activity is clear. They ought on no account to resent the deprivation of my liberty, should the Government of India deem it to be their duty to take it away. A citizen has no right to resist such restriction imposed in accordance with the laws of the State to which he belongs. Much less have those who sympathise with him. In my case there can be no question of sympathy. For I deliberately oppose the Government to the extent of trying to put its very existence in jeopardy. For my supporters, therefore, it must be a moment of joy when I am imprisoned. It means the beginning of success if only the supporters continue the policy for which I stand. If the Government arrest me, they would do so in order to stop the progress of Non-co-operation which I preach. It follows that if Non-co-operation continues with unabated vigour, even after my arrest, the Government must imprison others or grant the people's wish in order to gain their co-operation. Any eruption of violence on the part of the people even under provocation would end in disaster. Whether therefore it is I or any one else who is arrested during the campaign, the first condition of success is that there must be no resentment shown against it. We cannot imperil the very existence of a Government and quarrel with its attempt to save itself by punishing those who place it in danger.
Hijarat and its Meaning
India is a continent. Its articulate thousands know what its inarticulate millions are doing or thinking. The Government and the educated Indians may think that the Khilafat movement is merely a passing phase. The millions of Mussalmans think otherwise. The flight of the Mussalmans is growing apace. The newspapers contain paragraphs in out of the way corners informing the readers that a special train containing a barrister with sixty women, forty children including twenty sucklings, all told 765, have left for Afghanistan. They were cheered en route. They were presented with cash, edibles and other things, and were joined by more Muhajarins on the way. No fanatical preaching by Shaukatali can make people break up and leave their homes for an unknown land. There must be an abiding faith in them. That it is better for them to leave a State which has no regard for their religious sentiment and face a beggar's life than to remain in it even though it may be in a princely manner. Nothing but pride of power can blind the Government of India to the scene that is being enacted before it.
But there is yet another side to the movement. Here are the facts as stated in the following Government Communique dated 10th July 1920:
An unfortunate affair in connection with the Mahajarin occurred on the 8th instant at Kacha Garhi between Peshawar and Jamrud. The following are the facts as at present reported. Two members of a party of the Mahajarins proceeding by train to Jamrud were detected by the British military police travelling without tickets. Altercation ensued at Islamia College Station, but the train proceeded to Kacha Garhi. An attempt was made to evict these Mahajarins, whereupon the military police were attacked by a crowd of some forty Mahajarins and the British officer who intervened was seriously wounded with a spade. A detachment of Indian troops at Kacha Garhi thereupon fired two or three shots at the Mahajarin for making murderous assault on the British officer. One Mahajarin was killed and one wounded and three arrested. Both the military and the police were injured. The body of the Mahajarin was despatched to Peshawar and buried on the morning of the 9th. This incident has caused considerable excitement in Peshawar City, and the Khilafat Hijrat Committee are exercising restraining influence. Shops were closed on the morning of the 9th. A full enquiry has been instituted.
Now Peshawar to Jamrud is a matter of a few miles. It was clearly the duty of the military not to attempt to pull out the ticketless Mahajarins for the sake of a few annas. But they actually attempted force. Intervention by the rest of the party was a foregone conclusion. An altercation ensued. A British officer was attacked with a spade. Firing and a death of a Mahajarin was the result. Has British prestige been enhanced by the episode? Why have not the Government put tactful officers in charge at the frontier, whilst a great religious emigration is in progress? The action of the military will pass from tongue to tongue throughout India and the Mussalman world around, will not doubt be unconsciously and even consciously exaggerated in the passage and the feeling bitter as it already is will grow in bitterness. The Communique says that the Government are making further inquiry. Let us hope that it will be full and that better arrangements will be made to prevent a repetition of what appears to have been a thoughtless act on the part of the military.
And may I draw the attention of those who are opposing non-co-operation that unless they find out a substitute they should either join the non-co-operation movement or prepare to face a disorganised subterranean upheaval whose effect no one can foresee and whose spread it would be impossible to check or regulate?