DEAR MR. HEYCOCK,
I have hitherto refrained from bringing to your notice statements,
which have continued to stream in, to the effect that the raiyats
are being prevented from coming in to me and that those who have come
in have been subjected to all kinds of pinpricks by the kothai amlas
and in some cases by the managers themselves. I have discounted some
of the statements. I have taken down a few. But if what I have heard
about the doing of the Belwa and the Dhokraha concerns is true, it
is calculated to end on one side at least, the friendly spirit in
which the inquiry has hitherto been carried on. I am most anxious
to continue and to increase the friendly spirit. I am straining every
[nerve] so far as in me lies, to so conduct my mission that nothing
but good-will should be left behind, when its labours are finished.
I send you the statements taken regarding the Belwa and the Dhokraha
concerns. If the statements are true, they do not reflect any credit
upon the concerns in question. I enclose, too, my letter to Mr Holttum
which was written before I heard of the fire and which was despatched
before I took the statements of the Dhokraha men last evening after
I can understand and even appreciate the feelings which are bound
to fill those who are called upon to contemplate the prospect of having
to forgo huge incomes which they have hitherto been in the habit for
a long time of receiving from their raiyats. One cannot, therefore,
mind any legitimate effort on their part to hold on to what they have
considered as their rights. But what is reported to have happened
at the Belwa and Dhokraha dehats does not in my opinion fall under
such a category.
It is a known fact that the desire of the planters generally is, that
my friends and I should not carry on our work. I can only say that
nothing but physical force from the Government or an absolute guarantee
that the admitted or provable wrongs of the raiyats are to stop for
ever, can possibly remove us from the District. What I have seen of
the conditions of the raiyats is sufficient to convince me that if
we withdrew at this stage, we would stand condemned before man and
God and, what is most important of all, we would never be able to
But the mission is totally of peace. I cannot too often give the assurance
that I bear no ill-will against the planters. I have been told that
this is true of myself but that my friends are fired with an anti-English
feeling and that for them this is an anti-English movement. I can
only say that I do not know a body of men who have less of that feeling
than my friends. I was not prepared for this pleasant revelation.
I was prepared for some degree of ill-will. I would have held it excusable.
I do not know that I have not been guilty of it myself under circumstances
which have appeared to me most provoking. But if I found that any
of my associates were, in the conduct of this mission, actuated by
any ill-will at all, I should disassociate myself entirely from them
and insist upon their leaving the mission. At the same time, the determination
to secure a freedom for the raiyats from the yoke that is wearing
them down is inflexible.
Cannot the Government secure that freedom ? This is a natural exclamation.
My answer is that they cannot, in cases like this, without such assistance
as is afforded to them by my mission. The Government machinery is
designedly slow. It moves, must move, along the line of least resistance.
Reformers like myself, who have no other axe to grind but that of
reform they are handling for the time being, specialize and create
a force which the Government must reckon with. Reformers may go wrong
by being over-zealous, indiscreet or indolent and ignorant. The Government
may go wrong by being impatient of them or over-confident of their
ability to do without them. I hope, in this case, neither catastrophe
will take place and the grievances, which I have already submitted
and which are mostly admitted, will be effectively redressed. Then
the planters will have no cause to fear or suspect the mission of
which I have the honour to be in-charge and they will gladly accept
the assistance of volunteers who will carry on the work of education
and sanitation among the villagers and act as links between them and
Pray, excuse the length of this letter as also its argumentative character.
I could not avoid it, if I was to place my true position before you.
In bringing the two matters which have necessitated this communication,
I have no desire to seek legal relief. But I ask you to use such administrative
influence as you can to preserve the friendly spirit which has hitherto
prevailed between the kothis and my friends and myself.
I do not wish to suggest that the kothis in question are responsible
for the fire. That is the suspicion of some of the raiyats. I have
talked to hundreds of them about the two fires. They say that the
raiyats are not responsible for them, that they have no connection
with the mission. I readily accept this repudiation because we are
incessantly telling the raiyats that this is not a mission of violence
or reprisals and that any such thing on their part can only delay
relief. But if the kothis may not be held responsible for them, they
may not seek to establish a connection between them and the mission.
Fires have taken before now, and, mission or no mission, they will
take place for ever. Neither party may blame the other without the
clearest possible proofs.
There is talk, too, about the lives of the planters being in danger.
Surely this cannot be serious talk. Any waj', the mission cannot render
them less safe than they are. The character of the mission is wholly
against any such activity. It is designed to seek relief by self-
suffering, never by doing violence to the supposed or real wrong-doer.
And this lesson has been inculcated among the raiyats in season and
out of season.
Lastly, there is, I fear, ample proof of intimidation such as is described
in the statements thereto attached. Intimidation can only mean more
trouble all-round without meaning the slightest relief, to the planters
in the shape of retention of the present system.
I seek such help as you can vouchsafe in the circumstances I have
ventured to place before you. I am sending a copy to Mr Lewis.