DEAR LORD LINLITHGOW,
I must thank you warmly for your prompt reply to my letter of the
I wish I could agree with you that your letter is clear. I am sure
you do not wish to imply by clearness simply that you hold a particular
opinion strongly. I have pleaded and would continue to plead till
the last breath that you should at least make an attempt to convince
me of the validity of the opinion you hold, that the August resolution
of the Congress is responsible for the popular violence that broke
out on the 9th August last and after, even though it broke out after
the wholesale arrest of principal Congress workers. Was not the drastic
and unwarranted action of the Government responsible for the reported
violence ? You have not even said what part of the August resolution
is bad or offensive in your opinion. That resolution is in no way
a retraction by the Congress of its policy of non-violence. It is
definitely against Fascism in every shape or form. It tenders co-operation
in war effort under circum-stances which alone can make effective
and nationwide co-operation possible.
The Government have evidently ignored or overlooked the very material
fact that the Congress, by its August resolution, asked nothing for
itself. All its demands were for the whole people. As you should be
aware, the Congress was willing and prepared for the Government inviting
Quaid-i-Azam Jinnah to form a national government subject to such
agreed adjustments as may be necessary for the duration of the war,
such government being responsible to a duly elected assembly.
Being isolated from the Working Committee, except Shrimati Sarojini
Devi, I do not know its present mind. But the Committee is not likely
to have changed its mind.
Is all this open to reproach?
Objection may be raised to that clause of the resolution which contemplated
civil disobedience. But that by itself cannot constitute an objection
since the principle of civil disobedience is impliedly conceded in
what is known as the 'Gandhi-Irwin Pact'. Even that civil disobedience
was not to be started before knowing the result of the meeting for
which I was to seek from you an appointment.
Then, take the unproved and in my opinion unprov¬able charges
hurled against the Congress and me by so responsible a Minister as
the Secretary of State for India.
Surely I can say with safety that it is for the Government to justify
their action by solid evidence, not by mere ipse dixit.
But you throw in my face the facts of murders by persons reputed to
be Congressmen. I see the fact of the murders as clearly, I hope,
as you do. My answer is that the Government goaded the people to the
point of madness. They started leonine violence in the shape of the
arrests already referred to. That violence is not any the less so,
because it is organized on a scale so gigantic that it displaces the
Mosaic Law of tooth for tooth by that of ten thousand for one—not
to mention the corollary of the Mosaic Law, i.e., of non-resistance
as enunciated by Jesus Christ. I cannot interpret in any other manner
the repressive measures of the all- powerful Government of India.
Add to this tale of woe the privations of the poor millions due to
India-wide scarcity which I cannot help thinking might have been largely
mitigated, if not altogether prevented, had there been a bona fide
National Government responsible to a popularly elected Assembly.
If then I cannot get soothing balm for my. pain, I must resort to
the law prescribed for Satyagrahis, namely, a fast according to capacity.
I must commence after the early morning breakfast of the 9th February,
a fast for 21 days ending on the morning of the 2nd March. Usually
during my fasts, I take water with the addition of salts. But nowadays,
my system refuses water. This time therefore I propose to add juices
of citrus fruits to make water drinkable. For, my wish is not to fast
unto death, but to survive the ordeal, if God so wills. The fast can
be ended sooner by the Govern¬ment giving the needed relief.
I am not marking this letter personal, as I did the two previous ones.
They were in no way confidential. They were a mere personal appeal.