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KINDNESS

IN THE PUNJAB ~ Gandhi

Sir Michael O’Dwyer held me responsible for all that had happened in Punjab, and some irate young Punjabis held me responsible for the martial law. They asserted that, if only I had not suspended civil disobedience, there would have been no Jalianwala Bagh massacre. Some of them even went to the length of threatening me with assassination if I went to Punjab. But I felt that my position was so correct and above question that no intelligent person could misunderstand it. I was impatient to go to Punjab. I had never been there before, and that made me all the more anxious to see things for myself. Dr Satyapal, Dr Kitchly and Pandit Rambhaj Dutt Chowdhary, who had invited me to Punjab, were at this time in jail. But I felt sure that the Government could not dare to keep them and the other prisoners in prison for long. A large number of Punjabis used to come and see me whenever I was in Bombay. I ministered to them a word of cheer on these occasions, and that would comfort them. My self-confidence at that time was infectious. But my going to ad to be postponed again and again. The Viceroy would say, ‘not yet,’ every time I asked for permission to go there, and so the thing dragged on. In the meantime, the Hunter Committee was announced to hold an inquiry in connection with the Punjab Government’s doings under martial law. Mr C. F. Andrews had now reached Punjab. His letters gave a heart-rending description that the martial law atrocities were even worse than the press reports had shown. He pressed me urgently to come and join him. At the same time, Malaviyaji sent telegrams asking me to proceed to Punjab at once. I once more telegraphed to the Viceroy asking whether I could now go to Punjab. He wired back in reply that I could go there after a certain date. I cannot exactly recollect now, but I think it was the 17th of October. The scene that I witnessed on my arrival at Lahore can never be effaced from my memory. The railway station was from end to end one seething mass of humanity. The entire populace had turned out of doors in eager expectation, as if to meet a dear relation after a long separation, and was delirious with joy. I was put up at the late Pandit Rambhaj Dutt’s bungalow, and the burden of entertaining me fell on the shoulders of Shrimati Sarala Devi. A burden it truly was, for even then, as now, the place where I was accommodated became a veritable caravanserai. Owing to the principal Punjab leaders being in jail, their place, I found, had been properly taken up by Pandit Malaviyaji, Pandit Motilalji and the late Swami Sharddhanandji. Malaviyaji and Shraddhanandji I had known intimately before, but this was the first occasion on which I came in close personal contact with Motilalji. All these leaders, as also such local leaders as had escaped the privilege of going to jail, at once made me feel perfectly at home amongst them so that I never felt like a stranger in their midst. How we unanimously decided not to lead evidence before the Hunter Committee is now a matter of history. The reasons for that decision were published at that time, and need not be recapitulated here. Suffice it to say that, looking back upon these events from this distance of time, I still feel that our decision to boycott the Committee was correct and proper. As a logical consequence of the boycott of the Hunter Committee, it was decided to appoint a non-official Inquiry Committee, to hold almost a parallel inquiry on behalf of Congress. Pandit Motilal Nehru, the late Deshbandhu C. R. Das, Sjt. Abbas Tyabji, Sjt. M.R.Jayakar and myself were appointed to this Committee, virtually by Pandit Malaviyaji. We distributed ourselves over various places for purposes of inquiry. The responsibility for organizing the work of the Committee devolved on me, and as the privilege of conducting the inquiry in the largest number of places fell to my lot, I got a rare opportunity of observing at close quarters the people of Punjab and the Punjab villages. In the course of my inquiry, I made acquaintance with the women of Punjab also. It was as if we had known one another for ages. Wherever I went they came flocking and laid before me their heaps of yarn. My work in connection with the inquiry brought home to me the fact that Punjab could become a great field for Khadi work. As I proceeded further and further with my inquiry into the atrocities that had been committed on the people, I came across tales of the Government’s tyranny and the arbitrary despotism of its officers such as I was hardly prepared for, and they filled me with deep pain. What surprised me then, and what continues to fill me with surprise, was the fact that a province that had furnished the largest number of soldiers to the British Government during the war, should have taken all these brutal excesses lying down. The task of drafting the report of this Committee was also entrusted to me. I would recommend a perusal of this report to anyone who wants to have an idea of the kind of atrocities that were perpetrated on the Punjab people. All that I wish to say here about it is that there is not a single conscious exaggeration in it anywhere, and every statement made in it is substantiated by evidence. Moreover, the evidence published was only a fraction of what was in the Committee’s possession. Not a single statement, regarding the validity of which there was the report. This report, prepared as it was solely to bring out the truth and nothing but the truth, will enable the reader to see to what lengths the British Government is capable of going, and what inhumanities and barbarities it is capable of of of perpetrating to maintain its power. So far as I am aware, not a single statement made in this report has ever been disproved. ~ IN THE PUNJAB

By KINDNESS WISDOM

Life is like a bunch of roses. Some sparkle like raindrops. Some fade when there's no sun. Some just fade away in time. Some dance in many colors. Some drop with hanging wings. Some make you fall in love. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Life you can be sure of, you will not get out ALIVE.(sorry about that)

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