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148. Curb Anger

Turning to the burning question of the day Gandhiji said in his post-prayer address that he was prepared to understand their resentment and the consequent impatience. But if they deserved their independence, they would learn to subdue their resentment and trust their Government to do the best. He was presenting to them not his own way of non-violence, much as he would like to. He knew that he was out of court today. He suggested to them the adop­tion of the path that all democratic nations had adopted. In democracy the individual will was governed and limi­ted by the social will which was the State, which was governed by and for democracy. If every individual took the law into his own hands there was no State, it became anarchy, i.e. absence of social law or State. That way lay destruction of liberty. Therefore, they should subdue their anger and let the State secure justice. In his opinion, if they permitted the State to do its duty, he had no doubt that every Hindu and every Sikh refugee would return to his home with honour and dignity. He was free to admit that they had suffered much in Pakistan, many homes had become desolate, lives had been lost, girls had been abducted, there had been forcible conversions. If they had self-control and did not allow their anger to get the better of their reason, girls would be returned, forcible conversions would be null and void and their properties returned to them. But this could not be done if they interfered with the even course of justice and thus-spoiled their own case. They could not expect these things if they expected that their Muslim brothers and sisters should be driven out of India. He regarded any such thing as a monstrous propo­sition. They could not have the cake and eat it too. Moreover whilst it was true that the minorities, i.e. the Hindus and the Sikhs were badly treated in Pakistan, it was equally true that the East Punjab has also treated its minority, the Muslims, likewise. Guilt could not be weighed in golden scales. He had no data to measure the guilt on either side. It was surely sufficient to know that both the sides were guilty. The universal way to have proper adjustment was for both the States to make a frank and full confession of guilt on either side and come to terms, failing agreement to resort to arbitration in the usual manner. The other and crude way was that of war. The thought repelled him. But there was no escape from it if there was neither agree­ment nor arbitration. Meanwhile, he hoped that wiser counsels would prevail and the Muslims who had not of their own free will chosen to migrate to Pakistan, should be asked by the neighbours to return to their homes with a perfect feeling of safety. This could not come about with the aid of the military. It could be done by return to sanity by the people concerned. He had made his final choice. He had no desire to live to see the ruin of India through fratricide. His incessant prayer was that God would remove him before any such calamity descended upon their fair land. And he asked the audience to join in the prayer.

Harijan, 28-9-1947