Page:Speeches And Writings MKGandhi.djvu/40

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ers and marching on foot behind mounted infantry, through dense bush, sometimes thirty miles a day, in the midst of a savage enemy’s country unarmed and unprotected to perform the task of hospital assistants and to nurse the wounded natives, who had been callously shot down by the colonial troopers, or had been cruelly lashed by military command. Mr. Gandhi does not like to speak his mind about what he saw or learnt on this occasion. But many times he must have had searchings of conscience as to the propriety of his allying himself, even in that merciful capacity, with those capable of such acts of revolting and inexcusable brutality. However, it is well to know that nearly all his solicitude was exercised on behalf of aboriginal native patients, and one saw the Dewan’s son ministering to the needs and allaying the sufferings of some of the most undeveloped types of humanity, whose odour, habits and surroundings must have been extremely repugnant to a man of refined tastes—though Mr. Gandhi himself will not admit this.


Scarcely had he returned to Johannesburg to resume practice (he had left his office to look after itself during his absence), than a thunderbolt was launched by the Transvaal Government by the promulgation of the Draft Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance, whose terms are now familiar throughout the length and breadth of India. After years of plotting and scheming, the anti-Asiatics of the Transvaal, having first secured the willing services of an administrative department anxious to find an excuse for the continuance of its own existence, compelled the capitulation of the executive itself with the afore-mentioned result. Mr. Gandhi at once realised what was afoot, and understood, immediately that, unless the Indian community adopted a decided attitude of protest, which would be backed up, if necessary, by resolute action, the whole Indian population of South Africa was doomed, and he accordingly took counsel with the leading members of the community, who agreed that the measure must be fought to the bitter end.