Page:Speeches And Writings MKGandhi.djvu/89

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M. K. GANDHI 63 The most unhappy man present there was perhap the Judge himself. He restrained his emotion, cleared his voice, gathered his strength and delivered his oral judgment in care- ful and dignified words. No one could have performed this duty better. To combine the dignity of his position with the courtesy due to the mighty prisoner before him was no easy task. But he succeeded in doing it in a manner worthy, of the highest praise. Of course, the prisoner before Qhim belonged of a different cate- gory from "any person he ever tried " or is rlikely try in future. And this fact influenced his whole speech and demean- our. His words alniost fell when he came to the end and pronounced the sentence of simple imprisonment for six years. And who is this Mr. Gandhi, who at the age of 53, has been sentenced to six years' imprisonment Z He is the man whom the convicting judge himself described " as a great pmtriot and a great leader, as a man of high ideals and leading a noble and even saintly life," a man in whom, as Gokhale aptly described, ‘ Indian humanity has really reached its high water-mark’ and in whom a Christian Bishop witnesseth ‘the patient sufferer for the cause of righteousness and mercy} Such a man has been condemn- ed despite his public avowal of his huge mistake, his penitance for the same, his decision to suspend his aggres- sive programme, and his grave warnings that it would be " criminal " to start civil disobedience in the existing state of the country. Even some of the Anglo-Indian papers have condemned the action of the Government as a blunder ; and one of these has gone so far as to characte- rise it as ‘ a masterpiece of official ineptitude] And such a criticism cannot be described as altogether undeserved or unjust. Mr. Gandhi’s agitation originated with the Rowlatt Act. It received strength on account of the calculated brutalities and humiliations of the Martial Law regime, And the climax was reached when the solemn pledges of the British Prime Minister in regard to Turkey were conveniently forgotten at Severs. The Rowlatt Act has since been repealed, the Punjab wrongs have been admitted and an appeal has been made to "forget and forgive," , Mr. Gandhi’s bitter complaint that the British Ministers have not sincerely fought for the redemption of the solemn pledges to the Mussulmans has been proved to