I wish that every Englishman will see this appeal and give thoughtful
attention to it.
Let me introduce myself to you. In my humble opinion, no Indian has
co-operated with the British Government more than I have for an unbroken
period of twenty-nine years of public life in the face of circumstances
that might well have turned any other man into a rebel. I ask you
to believe me when I tell you that my co-operation was not based on
the fear of the punishments provided by your laws or any other selfish
motives. It was free and voluntary co-operation based on the belief
that the sum total of the activity of the British Government was for
the benefit of India. I put my life in peril four times for the sake
of the Empire,—at the time of the Boer war when I was in charge
of the Ambulance corps whose work was mentioned in General Buller's
dispatches, at the time of the Zulu revolt in Natal when I was in
charge of a similar corps, at the time of the commencement of the
late War when I raised an Ambulance corps and as a result of strenuous
training had a severe attack of pleurisy, and lastly, in fulfillment
of my promise to Lord Chelmsford at the War Conference in Delhi, I
threw myself in such an active recruiting campaign in Kaira District
involving long and trying marches, that I had an attack of dysentery,
which proved almost fatal. I did all this in the full belief that
acts such as mine must gain for my country an equal status in the
Empire. So late as last December I pleaded hard for a trustful co¬operation.
I fully believed that Mr Lloyd George would redeem his promise to
the Mussalmans and that the revelations of the official atrocities
in the Punjab would secure full reparation for the Punjabis. But the
treachery of Mr Lloyd George and its appreciation by you, and the
condonation of the Punjab atrocities have completely shattered my
faith in the good intentions of the Government and the nation which
is supporting it.
But though my faith in your good intentions is gone, I recognize your
bravery, and I know that what you will not yield to justice and reason,
you will gladly yield to bravery.
See What This Empire Means to India:
Exploitation of India's resources for the benefits of Great Britain,
an ever-increasing military expenditure, and a civil service the most
expensive in the world, extravagant working of every department in
utter disregard of India's poverty, disarmament and consequent emasculation
of a whole nation lest an armed nation might imperil the lives of
a handful of you in our midst, traffic in intoxicating liquors and
drugs for ' the purpose of sustaining a top-heavy administration,
progressively repressive legislation in order to suppress an ever-growing
agitation seeking to give expression to a nation's agony, degrading
treatment of Indians residing in your dominions and you have shown
total disregard of our feelings by glorifying the Punjab administration
and flouting the Mussalman sentiment.
I know you would not mind if we could fight and wrest the sceptre
from your hands. You know that we are powerless to do that, for you
have ensured our incapacity to fight in open and honourable battle.
Bravery on the battlefield is thus impossible for us. Bravery of the
soul still remains open to us. I know you will respond to that also.
I am engaged in evoking that bravery. Non-co-operation means nothing
less than training in self-sacrifice. Why should we co-operate with
you when we know that by your administration of this great country
we are being daily enslaved in an increasing degree? This response
of the people to my appeal is not due to my personality. I would like
you to dismiss me, and for that matter the Ali Brothers too, from
your consideration. My personality will fail to evoke any response
to anti-Muslim cry if I were foolish enough to raise it, as the magic
name of the Ali Brothers would fail to inspire the Mussalmans with
enthusiasm if they were madly to raise an anti-Hindu cry. People flock
in their thousands to listen to us because we today represent the
voice of a nation groaning under your iron heels. The Ali Brothers
were your friends as I was, and still am. My religion forbids me to
bear any ill will towards you. I would not raise my hand against you
even if I had the power. I expect to conquer you only by my suffering.
The Ali Brothers will certainly draw the sword, if they could, in
defence of their religion and their country. But they and I have made
common cause with the people of India in their attempt to voice their
feelings and to find a remedy for their distress.
You are in search of a remedy to suppress this rising ebullition of
national feeling. I venture to suggest to you that the only way to
suppress it is to remove the causes. You have yet the power. You can
repent of the wrongs done to Indians. You can compel Mr Lloyd George
to redeem his promises. I assure you he has kept many escape-doors.
You can compel the Viceroy to retire in favour of a better one, you
can revise your ideas about Sir Michael O'Dwyer and General Dyer.
You can compel the Government to summon a conference of the recognized
leaders of the people, duly elected by them and representing all shades
of opinion so as to revise means for granting Swaraj in accordance
with the wishes of the people of India.
But this you cannot do unless you consider every Indian to be in reality
your equal and brother. I ask for no patronage, I merely point out
to you, as a friend, an honourable solution of a grave problem. The
other solution, namely repression, is open to you. I prophesy that
it will fail. It has begun already. The Government has already imprisoned
two brave men of Panipat for holding and expressing their opinions
freely. Another is on his trial in Lahore for having expressed similar
opinions. One in the Oudh District is already impris-oned. Another
awaits judgment. You should know what is going on in your midst. Our
propaganda is being carried on in anticipation of repression. I invite
you respectfully to choose the better way and make common cause with
the people of India whose salt you are eating. To seek to thwart their
aspirations is disloyalty to the country.