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[Pamphlets issued by the India office and by other British and Indian governmental agencies, relating to the government of India, and to various political, economic, and social questions concerning it and Burma] (Volume 15) online

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India. Governor-General.

F,ast India (non-co-operation).
Telegraphic correspondence re-
garding the situation in India,



Telegraphic Correspondence
regarding the Situation in India.

Presented to Parliament by Command of His Majesty.




To be purchased through any Bookseller or directly from
H.M. STATIONERY OFFICE at the following addresses :



Price 6d. Net.

[Cmd. 1586.]





From Viceroy, Home
Department, 9th
February 1922.

From Viceroy, Home
Department, 9th
February 1922.

From Viceroy, Home
Department, 14th
February 1922.

From Viceroy, Home
Department, 28th
February 1922.

From Viceroy, Home

March 1922.'


From Viceroy, Home

Department, 1st
March 1922.

From Viceroy, Home

Department, 5th
March 1922.

From Viceroy, Home

Department, llth
March 1922.

General appreciation of the
situation regarding non-

Riot at Chauri Chaura

Resolution passed by Con-
gress Woi^king Committee
for suspension of moss
civil disobedience.

Postponement of pro-
ceedings against leaders.

All-India Congress Com-
mittee confirms, with
modification, resolution
referred to in No. 3.

Decision to arrest and
prosecute Gandhi.

Arrest of Gandhi


Telegraphic Correspondence regarding the
Situation in India.

No. 1.

From Viceroy, Home Department, to tieui-etary of State for
India, dated Sth February 1922.

(Received, 10th February 1922.)


The following is a general appreciation of the situation as
regards non-co-operation. In order to explain the situation as
it exists, it is necessary to trace the orfgins of the non-co-
operation movement and its developments. It is impossible to
give within the scope of a telegram an adequate appreciation
of whole situation, and Government of India would have
preferred, had time permitted, to send a considered despatch.
As, however, the matter is one of great urgency we have done
our best to give a connected account in message that follows.

The first manifestation of non -co - operation with
Government as a political force took place about the beginning
of 1920. The spirit of nationalism in this country as else-
where had been greatly stimulated and intensified by the
war and the pronouncements made as to the principles for
which the Allies stood. It was intended by the Reforms Act
of 1919 to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Indian people,
and moderate and reasonable opinion was to a certain extent
satisfied thereby. An extreme section of Indian politicians
rejected it as inadequate, but opposition to it might not have
assumed formidable proportions had it not " been for the
operation of special causes in particular, racial feeling, which
had been engendered by the Punjab disturbances in 1919, the
economic distress which resulted from the general rise in
prices, the bitter resentment on the part of Muhammadans
over the delay in announcing the terms of peace with Turkey
and their apprehensions lest these terms should prove un-
favourable to Turkey. It was as a result of these causes that
the doctrine of non-co-operation, which was a revival of
Gandhi's Satyagraha movement of 1919, began to make rapid
progress in 1920.

In March 1920 Gandhi established close relations with
Mohamed AH, Shaukat Ali, and other leaders of the Khilafat
movement, and he announced publicly that that movement had
his sympathy and that he would lead the non-co-operation
movement, directed against the Government, if the terms of
peace with Turkey did not meet the sentiments of his Moslem
fellow-subjects. He declared in this manifesto that the only
remedy left open to him was non-co-operation based on non-
violence. There was no very clear announcement at that time

P.S. 52922 AVt 31793/397 750 422 [I O.P.J


of the precise form which the movement would take, but Gandhi
defined his programme later in the year after the Turkish peace
terms had been published. There was to be a beginning of
non-co-operation by

(1) the resignation of titles and honorary posts ;

(2) the resignation of posts in the Civil Service of Govern-

ment, the Police being excluded ;

(3) the resignation of service in the Police and the Army ;


(4) the refusal to pay taxes.

By resolutions passed at a special meeting of Congress
held at Calcutta in September 1920 the following items were
added to the programme :

(1) withdrawal of children from educational institutions

aided or controlled by Government and establishment
in their places of National Schools and Colleges ;

(2) boycott by lawyers and litigants of British Courts and

establishment of private Arbitration Courts ;

(3) refusal by military, clerical and labouring classes to

volunteer for service in Mesopotamia ;

(4) withdrawal of candidates for election on new Councils

and abstention on the part of voters ;

(5) gradual boycott of foreign goods.

All the foregoing steps were to be initiated before resigna-
tion of service in police and army and refusal to pa}^ taxes, both
of which were to be started only at the final stages of the

Little enthusiasm was roused at first by the movement ; all
sections of moderate opinion were opposed to it, and even by
Tilak and his followers it was regarded with some doubt and
suspicion, while Hindu opinion naturally was averse from a
close alliance with the more violent and fanatical aspects of the
Khilafat movement. But the personality of the leader of the
non-co-operation movement who was believed to be a selfless
ascetic, a character which has a peculiar attraction for Indians,
the propaganda which he and his lieutenants assiduously
carried on, the intense irritation which had been caused among
Mahommedans by announcement of the Turkish peace terms,
and in particular the increasing economic pressure on large
sections of the population, drew a growing number of adherents
gradually to the movement.

2. Certain disquieting symptoms commenced to show
themselves in the movement towards the end of the year
1920. A tendency to imitate military methods was developed
in some of the Volunteer Associations, which had been
originally started, at any rate nominally, for philanthropic
and social service, and the leaders of the agitation against
Government were not slow to utilise for political purposes
these organisations as a potent instrument of social boycott.

This volunteer movement has presented peculiar difficulties,
partly owing to the fact that some of the associations
were in the past founded in good faith, in pursuance of
some form of social service, and have, in fact, on occasions
rendered valuable assistance in assisting strangers and facili-
tating the maintenance of order at great religious fairs
and pilgrimages, and partly owing to our disinclination to
interfere with Associations whose activities were ostensibly
directed to political objects which did not come within the
criminal law. Violence is opposed to the professed objects for
which members are drawn into these bodies; yet gradually the
establishment of these Associations has put into the hands of
the leaders powerful organisations, which can be, and have been,
used for sinister purposes. Attempts to usurp functions of
police, intimidation and use of violence to enforce hartals and
social and commercial boycott, or under guise of swadeslii or
temperance movements in order to impair authority of Govern-
ment and terrorise jwlitical opponents, have been prominent
features of their recent activities. In some places only have
military drill and evolutions been practised. The avoidance
of violence has throughout been a part of their ostensible
creed, and it was a matter of no small difficulty to decide at
what point their suppression was essential in the interest of
law and order, and would not be condemned by public opinion
as undue interference with freedom of political association.
The non -co - operation movement presented other sinister
features in the growing violence of the speeches made by the
principal Khilafat leaders and in endeavours to enlist the
sympathy of students and immature schoolboys, while cause for
anxiety was given by the possible effects on the Indian Army
and Police of a campaign of seditious propaganda. As early
as April 1920 instructions were issued by Lord Chelmsford's
Government that there should be prompt prosecution of all
persons tampering with the loyalty of the Troops or the Police,
and a scheme for instituting counter propaganda was formulated
in July of (he same year. In September instructions were
issued to Local Governments to take action vigorously to
prosecute for all incitements to violence, and their attention
was drawn in October to the dangerous potentialities which lay
in the volunteer movement. Lastly, in November 1920 a
Resolution was issued by Lord Chelmsford's Government
defining their general attitude towards the non-co-operation
campaign. It was explained that, although the entire
movement was unconstitutional, they had refrained from
instituting criminal proceedings against such of its promoters
as had advocated simultaneously with non-co-operation
abstention from violence, and they had given instructions
to Local Governments that action should be taken against
those persons only who, in order to further the movement,
had advanced beyond the limits which its organisers had
originally set up, and had [openly incited the public to violence


by speech or writing or endeavoured to tamper with the loyalty
of the Army or the Police. The following considerations had
influenced Government in adopting this policy :

(1) Reluctance to interfere with the freedom of the Press

and liberty of speech at a time when India was on the
threshold of a great advance towards self-government.

(2) The knowledge that those against whom prosecution

might be directed would be likely to find in it the
opportunity of posing as martyrs, and that they might
swell the number of adherents to their cause by
evoking false sympathy.

(3) The belief that non-co-operation would be rejected by

the country as a whole as a visionary and chimerical
scheme, the result of which could only be widespread
disorder, political chaos and the ruin of all such as
possessed a real stake in the country itself, the appeal
being made to the ignorant and prejudiced, and its
creed being devoid of any constructive genius.

3. At the Congress Meeting which was held in December
1920 at Nagpur a new stage was reached. Little up to that time
in the way of solid achievement could be pointed to by the leaders
of the movement. Although the movement had undoubtedly
engendered in certain parts of the country a general spirit of
disloyalty and lawlessness, little success had been attained in
giving effect to the specific items of the non-co-operation pro-
gramme ; there had been very few surrenders of titles,
a handful only of lawyers had suspended their practice, and,
though in the elections to the Reformed Councils the voting had
been somewhat interfered with, the constitution of these Councils
had not been seriously affected by it. Strong opposition had
been provoked by the attack on educational institutions, and
the attack had no lasting effect. But Gandhi at Nagpur was
successful in capturing the entire Congress organisation for his
party. Indication of the growing strength in that body of the
Extremist element was given by the change in the first article
of the constitution of the Congress which was effected by an
overwhelming majority, the object of Congress being denned
now as the attainment of Swaraj by all legitimate and peaceful
means. There was omission of the reference to British con-
nection. It became, moreover, clear by this time that the
intention of the leaders of the movement was to spare no efforts
by which the more ignorant masses might be permeated with
their doctrine. An increasing activity with this object in view
marked the early spring of 1921. There was great astuteness
shown in promoting labour unrest and exploiting economic
grievances, and promises of the wildest character Avere freely
made (as now) to ignorant peasants, for example, rent-free
lands, cheap clothes, cheap food and free railway passes. The
first evidence of this policy was the widespread agitation among
the tenantry of Oudh, from which, in January 1921, serious

disturbances resulted, and there was exploitation with some
success about the same time by the non-co-operation leaders of
the Akali movement among the Sikhs a movement which in
its inception seems to have been inspired by a genuine desire
for religious reform and success was attained to some extent
\)y such leaders in giving to the movement a character which
was definitely anti-Government. At the end of January the
Local Governments received from Lord Chelmsford's Govern-
ment fresh instructions in view of these developments. That
Government, while they adhered to the general policy which
had been enunciated in November 1920, impressed on the Local
Governments the necessity for instituting prosecutions with
greater freedom in ^all cases of incitements to violence and
endeavours to seduce police or Indian troops. Remedial
legislation was urged where redress was demanded by genuine
grievances. There were, too, to be steps taken for starting,
counter - propaganda whereby Government's policy would
be justified, and in general for enforcing respect for
the law. Government at the same time took every oppor-
tunity during the first session of the reformed Legislature
of convincing Indian opinion that the reforms were real and
great, and that they had conferred on the representatives of the
people wide poAvers, and that there Avas a readiness to inquire into
the cause of discontent, or any specific grievances. It Avas, for
example, agreed to refer to non-official Committees of the Legis-
lature certain Acts \vhich conferred extraordinary powers on the
Executive, as well as the Acts regulating the conduct of the
Press ; the greatest consideration Avas shown in framing the
Budget to the opinion of the Legislature.

4. As the result of the agitation AA r hich was carried on by the
non-co-operation leaders, there took place in the early summer
of 1921 a stampede from the Tea Gardens of Assam of coolies
to the number of many thousands, and there was simultaneously
a strike on the Assam-Bengal Railway. Another development
Avas a strong campaign against the use of foreign cloth and the
drink ti'affic ; this was mostly by means of a system of picket-
ing, an operation in which a prominent part Avas played by
intimidation. In spite of numerous prosecutions and restric-
t'lA^e orders, a general Aveakening of the respect for law and
order resulted from all these activities ; frequent outbreaks of
mob violence folloAved from this in various parts of the
country, and racial feeling directed against Europeans increased,
Avhether they Avere engaged in commerce or in the service of
Government. The leaders of the Khilafat party simultaneously
employed language which steadily increased in violence, and
many sections of the Mohammedan community Avhich had
hitherto been untouched by it Avere permeated by the agitation
which aimed at the restoration of the Sultan of Turkey
to his temporal power and pre-war religious ascendency.
A series of speeches was made by* the All brothers in the

winter and the spring at various towns, in the United Provinces
of Agra and Oudli, and in these speeches Great Britain was
openly described as the arch enemy of Islam, and they did all
in their power to incite against the British the animosity of
their co-religionists. They declared that a time would arrive
when it would be incumbent on all Mussalmans as a religious
duty to draw the sword in defence of their religion, nor did they
hesitate to put forward the view that if a Mohammedan Power
were to invade India with the object of avenging the cause of
Islam they would support it. While their prosecution for
these speeches was under consideration, their friends
induced them to sign a public apology and to undertake
that in future they would refrain from speeches and writings
which incited to violence or tended to the creation of an
atmosphere of preparedness for violence. In a letter addressed
in June 1921 to all Local Governments the situation was
reviewed. The Government of India were still convinced, in
spite of the disquieting symptoms to which reference has been
made above, of the soundness of the general policy which
had been pursued hitherto. They indicated at the same time
that the attitude of Government should in no way be relaxed
towards any advocacy of violence, including not only direct
incitements but speeches calculated to give rise to feelings
of disaffection, enmity or hatred such as were likely to
lead to violence not as a remote or ultimate consequence but
as a probable result in the near future.

5. A little time after this a more open form was assumed
by the attempts to create disaffection in the ranks of the Police
and the Army. There was widely published about midsummer
on the alleged authority of 500 Qlema (learned men) a Fatwa,
that is religious pronouncement, which purported to interpret
the precepts of the Koran. All service under Government
was declared in this to be forbidden by the Mussulman
religion, and service in the Police and the Army was stigma-
tised as a specially heinousi sin. A resolution was passed at
Karachi in July at the meeting of the All-India Khilafat
Committee, Mohamed Ali presiding, to the effect that it was
incumbent on all Mahommeclans as a religious duty not to
join the Indian Army or to continue to serve in it or
to give assistance in recruiting for the Army, and that
the duty of all Mahommedans was to bring to the notice
of the Moslem soldiers this religious injunction. Mohamed
Ali, with Shaukat Ali, his brother, and four other Khilafat
leaders, were afterwards prosecuted for this resolution and con-
victed, the conviction being under the ordinary law. In the
month of July riots or minor disturbances took place, with serious
loss of life in some instances, at the following places : Dharwar,
Madras, Aligarh, Calcutta, Chittagong, Matiari, Karachi. A
fuller account of these events will be found in the Repressive
Laws Committee Report of the Indian Legislature together

with its Appendices. In the month of August took place
the outbreak of the Moplahs. This was an organised
rebellion of a whole countryside which was populated by
Moslem tribes of a peculiarly backward and ignorant character,
whose fanaticism the Khilafat leaders had by their speeches
and writings deliberately excited. Without doubt a consider-
able body of Hindu opinion was alienated from the Khilafat
movement by this rebellion, in which many thousands of
Hindus were plundered and many hundreds murdered, as it
has become widely known that many Hindus were forcibly
converted to Islam and Hindu temples desecrated. Attempts
have been made to exploit to the discredit of the Government
the lamentable railway train episode in which Moplah prisoners
lost their life, but these have had little effect on Hindu
opinion. Events in Malabar, however, brought about no
modification in attitude of Gandhi. At Delhi on November
4th every Province was authorised by the Congress Committee
to start civil disobedience. This authorisation stipulated
however that conditions, such as proficiency in the spinning-
wheel, should be fulfilled the nature of which was so
impracticable as to indicate that the immediate inception of
this policy was not desired by the Congress. On the day of
the landing in India of the Prince of Wales, viz., 17th November,
a general Hartal (cessation of business) took place in Northern
India in most of the principal towns. An enthusiastic welcome
was received by the Prince in Bombay itself, but an attack by
non-co-operators on people returning from viewing His Royal
Highness's arrival developed into serious riots which lasted
three days ; in these several Europeans were murdered, and
in all there was a casualty list of 53 killed and approxi-
mately 400 wounded. Widespread intimidation on the part of the
volunteers marked the Hartal in Calcutta ; on a smaller scale
the same thing occurred in other large towns.

6. A new and dangerous situation confronted Government
after the events of the 17th November. An increasing disregard
for lawful authority and the growth of a dangerous spirit of
lawlessness had been engendered by the outbreaks of the last few
months, and it had become evident that a systematic campaign
of violence, intimidation and obstruction had been embarked
on by many of the Volunteer Associations, to combat which it
had proved ineffective to proceed under the ordinary criminal
law. In many places these associations were at first recruited
from educated classes, but as the campaign became more violent,
they began to draw adherents from unemployed labourers, mill
hands and city rabble, many of whom were paid for their
service. Government decided in these circumstances that
measures of a more comprehensive and drastic character should
be resorted to, and information was sent to the Local Governments
that sanction would be given to the application of the Seditious
Meetings Act in any district where it was considered necessary

52922 A 3


to adopt that course. Instructions were also given to them
that vigorous use should be made of the provisions of the
Criminal Law Amendment Act, Part II., for combating the
Volunteer Associations' illegal activities, and that troops should
be employed more freely, both in order to reinforce the police
nnd to hearten and encourage all law-abiding citi/ens. and
the measures to be taken in the event of civil disobedience
being inaugurated were laid down. Provincial Governments
were assured of the full support of the Government
of India in checking disorder, while the formation of
armed police battalions and the extensive enrolment of
special constables was suggested. In particular, they were
informed that they should not hesitate to prosecute any
offenders against the ordinary law, however prominent their
position, whose arrest and prosecution was in their opinion
required for the maintenance of authority. Emphasis was
laid on the importance of countering decisively the first active
measures taken to give effect to civil disobedience. It was
made clear that full strength of Government's resources was to
be employed if necessary for this purpose, and that most
prominent participators in the movement, not excluding
Gandhi, should be arrested immediately and prosecuted.
Action was promptly taken by practically all Local Govern-
ments in Northern India, in accordance with these instructions.
The Seditious Meetings Act was introduced in most of the
seriously affected districts in the Punjab, Bihar, Bengal, Assam
and Burma. In some Provinces the various Associations had
been proclaimed as unlawful, under the Criminal Law Amend-
ment Act, a few days before the receipt of 'our instructions, and
certain other Provinces have now issued similar proclama-
tions. A large number of persons have also been arrested
and convicted under that Act and other enactments for
preservation of law and order. At the same time prosecutions
were more freely instituted against newspapers, leaders and
speakers who had incited to violence. Throughout the year
proceedings had been taken against a number of persons who
had directly or indirectly advocated violence. Although serious
alarm had been caused among a substantial section of Moderate
opinion by the turn events had taken in the middle of
November and it had demanded that sterner measures should
be adopted by the Government, a disappointing revulsion of
Moderate opinion in political and journalistic circles followed
on the enforcement of the two Acts to which reference has been
made above and the prosecution and conviction under them of
a large number of persons.

An inclination was shown to represent the new policy as
an interference with the freedom of association for political


Online LibraryGreat Britain. India Office[Pamphlets issued by the India office and by other British and Indian governmental agencies, relating to the government of India, and to various political, economic, and social questions concerning it and Burma] (Volume 15) → online text (page 1 of 2)