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128. Question Box
Q. Do you support evacuation of the Hindus from the affected areas if the League Government or the majority community agrees to give us due compensation?
A. He had supported the proposition from the non-violent standpoint. It was applicable to all provinces whether the majority was Hindu or Muslim. What could the Government do if the majority had become so hostile that they would not tolerate the presence of the minority com­munity? In his opinion it would be improper for them to force the majority into submission, nor could they undertake to protect the minority at the point of the bayonet. Suppose for instance that the majority would not tolerate Ramadhun or the clapping (to keep time with the chanting), would not listen to the fact that Rama was not a person but the name was synonymous with God, and that the Hindus believed in clapping, and that the Muslims would not tolerate it, he had then no hesitation in saying that the minority should evacuate if adequate compensation was paid.
Q. What should a Hindu worker do when he is being deliberately misrepresented by interested parties in Noakhali?
A. The answer in terms of Ahimsa, generally, would be that acts should be allowed to speak for themselves.
Whilst this was good as a general proposition there were occasions when to speak and explain was a duty and not to speak would amount to a falsehood. Therefore wisdom dictated that there were some occasions when speech must accompany action. Of course there was an occasion when mere thought would take the place of speech and action. Such was the attribute of the Almighty and might be almost possible for one in a billion, but he knew no such instance.
Q. You have advised evacuation if the majority become irrevocably hostile. But you have also maintained that a truly non-violent man should never give up hope of converting his opponent by love. Under these circumstances, how can non-violent man accept defeat and evacuate?
A. As to this question, it was perfectly correct that a non-violent man would not move out of his place. For such a one there would be no question of compensation. He would simply die at his post and prove that his presence was not a danger to the State or the community. He knew that the Hindus of Noakhali made no such pretension. They were simple folk who loved the world and wanted to live in the world in peace and safety. Such persons would consult their honour if the Government honourably offered them compensation in order to see the majority living in peace. If the mere presence of the Hindus irritated the Muslims who were the majority, he would consider it to be the duty of the Government to offer compensation as it would be of the Government in a Hindu majority province to offer compensation to the Muslims if their presence irritated the majority community.
Q. In case of evacuation, under advice from the Government, should the evacuees ask for compensation for:
 all their movable and immovable property,
  loss of business?
In other words, what would you consider to be adequate compensation?
A. Gandhiji said that the Government would be obliged to compensate for both immovable and movables when the latter could not or were not carried away with him by the evacuee. Loss of business was a ticklish question. He could not conceive the possibility of any Government shouldering the burden of such compensation. He would understand the proposition that asked for a reasonable sum for enabling the person concerned to start business in a new place.
Whilst he examined and admitted the possibility of evacuation, his experience of all India told him that the Hindus and the Muslims knew how to live at peace among themselves. He declined to believe that people had said goodbye to their senses so as to make it impossible to live at peace with each other as they had done for generations.
For, he believed with the late Poet Iqbal that the Hindus and the Muslims who had lived together long under the shadow of the mighty Himalayas and had drunk the waters of the Ganga and the Jamuna had a unique message for the world.
Harijan, 16-3-1947